CS 125 App
The CS 125 App is a new feature of the course for Fall 2018. It tracks the proximity of course staff and students to known course locations: including office hours and Geoff’s office. Our app allows us to both understand how students use office hours and ensure that have staff available in office hours when needed.
Note that the CS 125 App does not continuously track your location. We only know when you arrive and leave office hours, or Geoff’s office. We do not know 1 your location at other times.
Read on to find out more about the CS 125 App.
Where to Get It
The CS 125 App is beta software being built by a small team. We do test changes on several devices before deploying new app versions, but there are a lot of different smartphones out there in the world.
So it may not work perfectly for you! CS 125 course staff and students should report bugs on the course forum. (Non-CS 125 course staff and students should not be using this app.)
Note that while we are providing extra credit this semester for trying our new app, no part of your core grade in CS 125 is influenced by whether or not you use our app.
In the following video Geoff Challen provides an overview of the features of the CS 125 App.
How It Works
Once you install the CS 125 App, satisfy the app requirements 3, and log in, the CS 125 App begins listening for signals sent by Bluetooth proximity beacons. We have a set of beacons purchased from Estimote. They look like this:
When the app hears a signal from one of these beacons, it reports to our server that you arrived at that location. When it stops hearing that signal, it reports that you left. When it doesn’t hear a signal from a beacon, we don’t know where you are.
Estimote Bluetooth proximity beacons have a range of up to 70 meters at full power but we have configured our beacons to transmit more softly and our app to only detect signals within a radius of 10 meters. You should notice that the app will detect our beacons in Siebel 0403 (office hours) right as you walk in and lose the signal once you exit and turn the corner into the basement hallway.
Currently our app is configured to detect beacons in the following locations:
Siebel 0403: there are two proximity beacons in the room we use to hold office hours. Both are mounted on a pillar in the middle of the room, one facing each direction. They are clearly visible—and hard to miss, given that they are purple.
Siebel 2227 (Geoff’s Office): there is one proximity beacon in Geoff’s office. And our CS 125 App allows you to determine when he’s there if you want to stop by. Please do! That’s pretty much the point of this feature of the app. However, note that this beacon can be disabled by Geoff so he can "hide" in his office if he’s particularly busy 4.
You may see CS 125 Course Developers working with other beacons as they develop new features for the app, but your app will not be configured to detect these beacons.
Why Are We Doing This?
The CS 125 App allows us to monitor course staff and students as they arrive and leave office hours. We’re doing this for two main reasons.
First, it will help us better manage the course. We try to assign course staff to times that we think office hours will be busy, but we don’t really know when those times are. So collecting this data and monitoring office hours in real time will help us ensure that there are course staff available to help you when you need it. We never want you to come to office hours and not be able to get help! If we detect a particularly busy time or a particularly bad staff-to-student ratio, we may put out an alert for extra course staff. Geoff may even come down from his office to help.
Second, it will help us understand the course and the effectiveness of office hours. Getting space on campus for office hours is not always easy. If we can show that they are effective, it will help us lobby for additional space in the future. We suspect that students that come to office ours regularly—particularly beginners—do better in CS 125. Collecting this data will allow us to know for sure.
The CS 125 App is for the exclusive use of CS 125 staff and students.
Although anyone with an
@illinois.edu email address can log in, we only record
entry and exit events for current CS 125 staff and students.
All data collected by the CS 125 App is for exclusive use by the CS 125 Course Staff and researchers at the University of Illinois. It will not be shared with or in any other way provided to third parties. Before using the data generated by the CS 125 App in any research publication, even in aggregated form, we will obtain consent from app users.
All data collected by the CS 125 App is stored in secured servers located on campus at the University of Illinois. All data transfer back and forth between the app is done over encrypted connections. The app does not cache your location history locally, and only ever known your current location. The app also does not track your location when you are not logged in, so you are welcome to only log on when you attend office ours and log off when you leave.