Guide for Discussion Leaders
When you are designated as the discussion leader for a class, you need to do two things: write a post about the reading for our course blog and facilitate the in-class discussion for the day.
Paper Perspective Post
First, write a post about the reading for our course blog. The deadline for the post is the class before the one where you present, so you will need to open the pull request by the 9:05am for that one-prior class period. Here is what the post must contain:
- Any background that you think the audience needs to understand the paper.
- A detailed summary of the main contributions in the work.
- Critical thinking about the merits and shortcomings of the work.
- Discussion of the work's role in history and its connections to the current computing landscape.
- Questions that you have about the work, including its technical content, its “marketing,” its evaluation, and its context in the research landscape.
If you need inspiration for the style of post to write, read The Morning Paper, a blog that highlights CS research papers. The posts on that blog there are detailed but concise and help highlight the most important insights without sacrificing their nuances. Your post should do the same.
Work hard on these posts and make them good. Their quality will not only shape the discussions we have in class but will also determine most of your grade for the reading component.
Add new blog posts to the course GitHub repository. The repository README has instructions. When you finish the first draft of your perspective post, announce it on Slack. The instructor will provide feedback on your blog posts to help you improve them, and other students are invited to do so too.
With your blog post in hand, the discussion leader is in charge of the 50-minute discussion that the class will have on a given paper. Plan to spend the first chunk of class, about 20 minutes, talking through the content of the paper and helping the class answer one another's questions about the reading. With the remaining time, your job is to facilitate a balanced and free-ranging discussion about the paper. If the conversation lags, it's your responsibility to drive it forward using your prepared discussion questions from your post. You can use whatever style you like to lead the discussion (with or without slides, for example).