The different topics in this section help you to decide whether or not this course is suitable/useful/interesting for you. You learn how the course is organized, and you can try out the different tools that we will be using. You can set up accounts where needed, and register to a mailing list. Other practical information is about the due dates for tasks (due dates are relevant for for-credit students only) and the dates of the livestreamed feedback webinars (when you take this course in sync with students at Ghent University). Don’t forget to have a look at the study hints, in particular if you are new to online learning.
This course is meant for physicists, chemists, engineers or other scientists who need a good conceptual understanding of hyperfine interactions. With ‘conceptual understanding’ we mean: understanding the physical principles behind hyperfine interactions is in this course more important than mathematical derivations. Once you understand the concepts, you will be able to make sense of the many mathematically inspired books on this topic yourself. While trying to study a mathematical hyperfine interaction book without having understood those concepts first, might not be easy.
The expected entry level for this course is a general science background at bachelor level. That means that you should have had introductory courses about classical mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and a little bit of quantum physics.
This course is the first one of a series of two. In the present course, hyperfine interactions as a physical phenomenon play the major role. The second course in the series focuses on understanding the concepts of experimental methods that rely on hyperfine interactions. These two courses can be taken independently from each other. Just be aware that for the second course a good conceptual understanding of hyperfine interactions is a strict prerequisite.
These two courses can be taken as free, open online courses by anyone with an internet connection. You can take them self-paced, or in sync with the yearly edition of these courses in the spring term at Ghent University, Belgium (February-May). Volunteering participants may obtain an inofficial certificate that has no legal value whatsoever. Students registered at Ghent University, or students from other universities where this course is adopted by a local staff member, can get regular credit as foreseen in their study program.
This course is an online course, designed to serve simultaneously regular on-campus students as well as volunteering students anywhere in the world. The latter have the choice to take the course in sync with the spring term edition in Ghent, Belgium (February-May), or to take it self-paced. The weekly classroom session takes the form of a feedback webinar, that is livestreamed and recorded.
If you take this course in February-May, synchronized with the live edition, then this is what you can expect:
The spring term has 12 weeks, interrupted by a 2 week Easter break. Each week corresponds to a section of this online course (6 for part A, 6 for part B). You are expected to watch the videos of that week, and to make the associated tasks. When you submit your answer to a task, there is in most cases immediate automated feedback. If after this feedback you still have questions, you can submit your question to a dedicated forum. Your fellow students might help you out, or they can second your question. Every week there is a feedback session where those questions are discussed that were not answered, or that are shared by many students. There is no lecturing during the feedback session, all lecturing happens online via prerecorded videos. Those feedback sessions
can be attended in person in class (not in 2021…), but they are also livestreamed and a recording is made available afterwards (that’s why we prefer to call them feedback webinars rather than sessions). Students from Ghent University are free to chose whether they attend these feedback webinars in person (not in 2021…) or online.
Students from Ghent University are graded for this course. Part of the credit is for submitting weekly reports in time. The other part is for the final exam. More details about this during the first feedback webinar. There is no official exam nor certificate provided for students that are not enrolled at a Flemish university, but for those students there is an inofficial honour’s certificate if they complete the required parts of the online course.
If you take this course at your own pace, at any time of the year, then this is what you can expect:
You go through the course at your own pace. You submit your answers to the tasks, and you get immediate automated feedback when available. If the feedback doesn’t clarify everything, or if you have additional questions, you can put them on the fora. If there is a fellow student around in the same time slot, he or she might help you out. If others have asked the same question before, you might find the answer in the recorded feedback webinars. If your question does not get answered, it may be addressed during one of the feedback webinars in the next February-May edition.
There is no official exam nor certificate provided for students that are not enrolled at a Flemish university, but for those students there is an inofficial honour’s certificate if they complete the required parts of the online course.
Studying in an online course is a little different from studying in a traditional face-to-face (f2f) course. Here are some hints that can help you to study in the most efficient way.
It can be a reassuring feeling to have all lectures permanently available as videos, only a few mouse clicks away. And this definitely has advantages. But be careful this doesn’t lure you into a trap. Merely watching a video is not the same as studying. And merely watching a video five times, doesn’t have much added value either. Whenever you watch a video, do the following:
If you watch the videos in this way, you will be studying efficiently and the need to rewatch videos will be reduced to those sections where it really makes sense for you. That doesn’t mean it is forbidden to rewatch everything. Some students who did take good notes prefer to watch every video a second time before the exam, and get even more out of it with all the background knowledge they accumulated since then. Study habits are personal – go on and find the one that suits you best.
Campus students who take this course as an official course on their study program, have to submit weekly reports. The due date is always on Tuesday early morning (UTC). This is to make sure that there is sufficient time for the instructors to prepare the feedback webinar, one day later. It is definitely allowed to run ahead of the due dates. For instance, if you foresee you won’t have much time in week x+2, but you have less work in week x, it would be wise to cover the material of two weeks during week x.
International volunteers who take this course in sync with the live feedback webinars are strongly encouraged to observe the same due dates. This makes sure their questions too will be addressed during the feedback webinars. The richer the pool of questions is, the more all of us can learn.
International volunteers who take this course self-paced, should not care about the due dates.
For students from Ghent/Flanders: 4 out of the 20 exam points for this course are given for timely submitting your answers/reports. You get these 4 points already at the start of the term. If you submit your answers/reports before the due date, you keep them. Every week you do not submit your answers/reports in time, one of these 4 points is subtracted (with a floor of zero). Correctness of your answers does not matter (it’s the learning phase, hence it is allowed to make mistakes). Points will be subtracted only if a report is missing, or is clearly copied or made without fair effort.
During the February-May time slot, there will be a weekly feedback webinar. Via this page, you can access the livestream of this webinar (an agenda is added underneath). After the webinar, a recorded video of the feedback webinar will be added after the corresponding section of the course. Students living in Ghent (or Flanders) can attend the feedback webinar in person, if they want.
Access to the livestream is here (opens in a new window). (when no livestream is going on, this link replays the previous stream — all previous streams are also available via the feedback webinar page of the corresponding chapter in the course site)
When a stream is being broadcast, you’ll see it here too:
You can find the dates of the webinars in the present academic year here (scroll down to the second part of that page).
If you intend to take this course in sync with the feedback webinars during the spring term at Ghent University (February-May), then it is recommended to subscribe to a mailing list for administrative messages. Changes in the schedule, important modifications to the course sites, information in case of a site downtime,… will be posted to this list only (in order not to bother people who just want to walk around in this course at their convenience).
To subscribe to this mailing list, please send an email with any content to email@example.com. Do this from the emaill address where you want to receive these messages, and then follow the instructions you will get in your mailbox. Alternatively, you may subscribe at the web page of this list.
To unsubscribe, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(we will probably not use this activity in 2023. The instructions underneath can therefore be discarded. They are not updated anyway.)
We will read in this course a few research papers. Typically, you will understand a lot of them, but not immediately everything. Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could point to the sentence you don’t understand, and ask somebody for help? Well, you can. You will read these papers via the social annotation tool Perusall. It allows you to make annotations in the paper, and these annotations are visible to the other students in this course. They can answer your question, and again these answers are visible to all.
The more people use Perusall to ask/answer questions, the more useful it becomes. In order to give you an incentive to use it, raising or answering a minimal number of questions on Perusall is part of the weekly tasks for for-credit students (you will clearly see in which weeks Perusall-related tasks appear).
The rest of this page describes how you can login to Perusall, and how you can use it. It is recommended to create your account already now, such that you can proceed smoothly once you’ll need it in the course. Once logged in, you will find a sample document to try out some features of Perusall.
Ready to go, you’re Perusall-proof now!
At this page, a recording will be posted of the introductory classroom session that takes place on Wednesday February 15, 2023 (7h30 am UTC or 8h30 am local time). It summarizes part of the practical info, yet has no scientific content. For online students who take this as a selfpaced course, there is no pressing need to watch this webinar. Yet, you can do so if you feel like.