FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FROM PROSPECTIVE HOSTS


Who is the intended audience for the material on Big Data?

The full course targets undergraduate tech students (e.g., computer science, information technology, mathematics) with 1-2 programming courses but no specialized courses in data, or undergraduate or post-graduate students in any field with some exposure to computer programming. Many instructors, lecturers, and faculty in a variety of fields have also participated. A few of the course modules do not require any programming background, although comfort with logic and basic mathematics is helpful. Some hosts are using the Big Data short-course as a means to foster collaborations across departments and institutions. Note that some modules may be too basic for advanced undergraduate or post-graduate computer science or other technical students who have already taken courses in data management, data mining, or machine learning.


Who is the intended audience for the workshops on Design Thinking and Collaborative Problem-Solving?

Anyone! From high school students and undergraduates to post-graduates, instructors, and professors, in any field. All that's required is an open mind and willingness to communicate.


Who is the intended audience for Women in Tech?

Women at any level, from high school students and undergraduates to post-graduates, instructors, and professors, generally in tech fields. The format is a roundtable discussion; active participation is expected.


Can the agenda include topics in research?

Teaching is the primary purpose. However, Prof. Widom is happy to deliver a one-hour research talk in a conference or department-seminar setting, and meet with faculty and students briefly about their research. Research-focused activities should be limited to a small portion of the visit, to leave plenty of time for teaching and interacting with students.


Can the visit include consulting with technology professionals from local industry?

Hosts are welcome to invite working professionals to participate, bearing in mind that the instruction is academically oriented. Corporate training or consulting on business challenges is not on offer.


Will there be course assistants?

Hosts are encouraged to provide 1-2 course assistants for the topics in Big Data that include student hands-on learning. (Course assistants are not needed for other topics.) Assistants can be faculty, lecturers, post-graduate, or advanced undergraduate students in computer science or related fields – anyone strong in English and comfortable with the concepts and tools (or a quick learner).


Do any of the courses include exams? Is course credit awarded?

The courses are meant to be educational and fun. Some of them include exercises and projects, but the work is not graded, there are no exams, and formal credit is not awarded.


What are the minimum and maximum lengths of a visit?

There is no minimum, although 1-2 days would need to be combined with other locations nearby. Due to high demand and a desire to reach as many students as possible, stays in one location are limited to one week (about 5 days of teaching), and stays in one country but multiple locations are limited to two weeks (about 10 days of teaching).


May I charge participants a nominal fee to help cover local expenses?

No! The intention is of the instructional odyssey is to offer free instruction. If you are having difficulty covering local expenses, see next question.


I'm not able to cover all local expenses. Can I still host a visit?

Yes! Thanks to a generous sponsorship from the VLDB Endowment, funds are available by application to cover local costs, though it's preferable if the local hosts can make some contribution. Please see the Local Support page.


I'd like to invite students from nearby areas to participate, but I have no funds for their travel. Can you help?

Yes! See answer to previous question.


Now that the sabbatical is over, is there still a chance of hosting a visit?

Yes. I hope to teach twice a year for up to a week in each location.