This FAQ is mainly designed for new Computer Science TAs looking for help with the CS department's computer resources, such as CoSATS, GRIT, Submit, Forums, etc.
Operator (aka firstname.lastname@example.org, aka email@example.com) is a group of hard-working staff members that live in the basement of the EE/CS building. Operator handles perhaps 90% of things that you will need to do to set up a course. Operator will set up accounts for you for web space, grit, submit, forums, and miscellaneous shared class space, if necessary. Operator can also supply you with a computer for discussion sessions, set up your wireless, and all sorts of other things. Be nice to Operator. Operator has the power.
CoSATS stands for Computer Science Automated Template System. It is simply a set of pre-written php pages that will allow you to easily create a web page that looks a lot like other class web pages and has some standard links.
index.phpin your web directory.
$CLASS_NAME_SHORTto be the 4-letter 4-number code. (For me, it's "CSCI 2021")
$CLASS_NAMEto be the full name of the course. (Again, for me, "Machine Architecture and Organization")
$EXTRA_LINKS. (Usually forum, GRIT, submit, etc.)
home.html. I usually post dates and general announcements in this file.
As you create html files in the root directory, the CoSATS php files
will see them and add them to the left-hand list of the index page. Common file
names to use are:
Note: Be sure that all of these files are world-readable! CoSATS will not generally give 403 (access denied) errors for main-page items.
For more thorough documentation, read the CSE online help about CoSATS.
GRIT stands for Grades for IT, or Grading for IT or something like that. It is a system that will allow you to post students' grades online, but the students will only have access to their own grades and some statistics about the class grades overall (min, max, and average for each assignment.)
You'll notice that the template has 2 sheets. One is for keeping track of the actual scores, the other is for formatting all the scores in a GRIT-friendly manner.
On the GRIT sheet, the second cell (A2) contains a GRIT-style version
of your class descriptor. In the template, this is
CSCI1902.1.SU.2007. In general, this format is
, where NNNN is the course number, S
is the course section (usually 1, unless you want to keep track of section
scores separately which is hard and not recommended,) T is the
term, F for fall, S for spring or SU for summer, and YYYY is
If you use the score tracking sheet properly, formulas on the GRIT sheet should copy over the relevant data from the score tracking sheet. You'll notice in the template I gave you, there are two homework assignments and one midterm grade so far. As the class progresses, you can use the AutoFill feature of OpenOffice to copy over the scores to the next columns on the GRIT sheet.
csvfile. When you save as
csvin OpenOffice, it allows you to control the delimiter characters. For this, you'll want to set the field delimiter to ':' and the text delimiter to '' (that is, nothing.)
csvfile, you'll want to do one more quick thing so that grit likes it: You'll want to remove extraneous colons. Usually I do this with the following
cat gradefile.csv | sed 's/::*/:/g' > gritfile.csv
Other notes about using GRIT:
grit --helpor take a look at Operator's tutorial for GRIT here.
The submit tool is a command-line and web-based tool that allows students to submit their homework assignments. I recommend choosing one of the two tools and only teaching the students that. Usually, I choose the web-based tool for csci 1902, because in that class students often write code from home. Teaching them the web-based tool means that it is easier for them to submit their code from their home computers.
/project/submit. For example,
hwnames.txtto control the names of allowed submissions. Note: Keeping this file up to date is very important! If you do, you can bar late submissions.
Other notes about submit:
Operator maintains a set of forums that is accessible to all ITLabs and CS accounts at
Upon request, they will set one up for your class.
This is a good question. For large classes (> 30 or so) I would recommend setting one up, since it is usually the case that many students will have the same questions about homework. The trade off is that you must check the forum often, or it will die of neglect. To alleviate this problem, when students send me questions about homework, I will often post the question and its answer on the forum, then tell the student to look at the forum for the answer. That way, you can force the students to get used to looking at the forum. It may pick up and get used a lot, it may not. I always feel that it's worth using, because it requires relatively little effort on the TA's part.
The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of Minnesota.