Appendix A. Curriculum Example

Appendix A. Curriculum Example

Introductory Course for Computer Ethics and Social Responsibility

For some CS departments an introductory course dedicated to computers and society and computer ethics in the context of either a liberal arts or engineering curriculum for either computer science majors or for the general student population will be most appropriate. Such a course could comfortably include the lectures and labs previously described in the five knowledge units. More hours could also be added that include in-depth study of several case studies or emerging technologies and their ethical significance. One successful version of such course[17] meets three times a week with one hour each devoted to topical content, practical skills, and tutorial (or laboratory) sections for small group activities. The syllabus for that course is shown in Table 3 followed by a detailed description of the assignments.

Description of Assignments for Social Impact and Computer Ethics Course

The assignments described below are designed to encourage students to develop their skills to read, think, speak, and write about social and ethical impact issues. The purpose of the assignments is to accomplish the learning objectives in the ES KUs.

Ethics Scenario Evaluation: An important purpose of this course is enable the students to develop analysis skills to make decisions on ethical issues that may arise related to computer systems that they develop and implement in the future. An effective way to do that is to analyze hypothetical situations or real scenarios that present ethical case studies.

Assignment: Students are given an ethical scenario to evaluate in three parts:

1) they are to analyze the scenario using their own set of personal values. To do this they have to identify all of the stakeholders in the scenario, all of the actions that were taken, and all of the alternative actions that could have been taken. They are to state their reactions to the actions and decisions of the people in the scenario based upon their personal ethical framework. They are not graded upon their values, but upon how well they can state them to argue a position related to the scenario.

2) Then they analyze the scenario using the Code of Ethics of a professional society stating the specific principles from the code that apply to the scenario and what the right course of actions are based upon that code.

3) Finally, they are to compare and contrast the conclusions made in parts 1 and 2 .

Science Fiction Report: Students are required to read a science book or short story or view a science fiction movie. The purpose of this assignment is to examine how technology is portrayed to the public through fiction. Is it presented by the author as a good, evil or neutral force in society? It is presented as being under human control or evolving on its own? The technology discussed does not have to be imaginary or futuristic. The book could have been written a century ago about technology that now exists.

Assignment: The actual report consists of two parts: a 4-minute oral report to be given during a discussion session and a 3-4 page written report. The format of the written report is as follows:

1) Briefly summarize the story without giving all of the plot details.

2) List the issues that the story addressed in the context of this course.

3) State the view of the author regarding the particular technology used in the story - good, evil, neutral, in control, etc.

4) State their personal reactions to that view why do they agree or disagree with author?




Current Issue Critique: Computer professional frequently hear and read about controversial issues raised in the popular media as a result of new computer technology. It is important for the CS student to be able to respond to these issues in a rational way. This assignment is to help them examine societal impact issues as they are portrayed in the popular media.

Assignment: During the semester a number of lectures, newspaper accounts, or magazine articles dealing with current societal issues related to this course will occur. The students are required to be aware of and report on one of these current issues. They will turn in a 2-3 page report containing a summary of the issue and their reaction to the way it is portrayed in the media based upon what they have learned in this class.

Discussion Group Participation: Each student is assessed based upon their active involvement in the class. This requires that they read the weekly assignments, think about the issues, show up for discussions and express their opinions. Each week a different small group in the tutorial sections will be responsible for organizing and leading the discussion for the topic of the week.

Oral and Visual Communication Skills: Students are required to give several oral presentations during the course. They are assessed on their ability to clearly articulate their ideas and their ability to use visual aids effectively to help communicate those ideas.

Social Impact Analysis Report: This is a team research report that comprehensively examines the social impact of some computer system located in a service unit at the university. It includes an executive summary, description of the system, analysis of the use, impact, and ethical concerns of the system, a set of recommendations, references to literature related to these issues, and an appendix describing raw data and data collection methods. An oral report will be presented to the class.

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to give the students experience working on a team with a real client to produce an analysis of the operation of a computer system in the real world. The clients they will be working with are all involved in providing services to the campus community. The task of the students is to analyze how the client is using the computer to help provide the service - what impact is the computer having in their organization, who is using the computer, how is it being used, is it viewed as a positive or negative asset in the organization, are there ways that it could be used differently, is the delivery of service being helped by the computer?

Specific Tasks of the SIA:

1) To determine how the system works - the actual versus idealized practice.

2) To give both students and their client practice in thinking about the social and ethical aspects of computer systems. It is up to the students to structure the interactions so that they help the client think about the system. Clients are to be treated as the experts on how their system works.

3) To provide the client with a document that will be useful in future modifications of the system. They are to provide recommendations to help the client to develop a system that is more reliable, safer, more efficient, and more effectively used than before.

Methods of Data Collection: interviews, surveys, field observations, day-in-the-life scenarios




Sample Syllabus for Computer Ethics and Social Impact Course

Week 1. Lecture: Course Overview - Tools as Social Artifacts

Practicum: Overview of sw tools - spreadsheet, graphics, database

Tutorial (small groups): Small group ice breaker exercises

Week 2: Lecture: History of Computers

Practicum: Technical Writing - organization of technical reports

Tutorial(small groups): Team building exercises

Week 3: Lecture: Developing a Moral Framework

Practicum: Project planning for teamwork

Tutorial (small groups): Personal ethical frameworks

Week 4: Lecture: Professional Codes of Ethics

Practicum: Collecting empirical data in a social context

Tutorial (small groups): Ethics case study with stakeholder role-playing

Week 5: Lecture: Computers in the Workplace (Ethics Scenario Evaluation due)

Practicum: Interview Skills- preparing for site visit

Tutorial (small groups): Discussion of workplace issues

Week 6: Lecture: Software Reliability and Socially Critical Systems

Practicum: Survey Data - design and collection

Tutorial (small groups): Discussion of socially critical systems

Week 7: Lecture: Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (Science Fiction Report due)

Practicum: Technical Writing - citations, references

Tutorial (small groups): Discussion of science fiction works

Week 8: Lecture: Equity of Access: Gender, Social Class

Practicum: Observational Data - design and collection

Tutorial (small groups): Discussion of equity issues

Week 9: Lecture: Computers in Education (SIA: plan, bibliography due) Practicum: Oral Presentations - organize and prepare

Tutorial (small groups): Replicate educational software experiment

Week 10: Lecture: Software as Intellectual Property

Practicum: Oral Presentations - use of visual aids

Tutorial (small groups): SIA oral progress reports

Week 11: Lecture: Privacy and Civil Liberties (Current Issues Critique due)

Practicum: Empirical data analysis and presentation

Tutorial (small groups): Discussion of privacy issues

Week 12: Lecture: Hacker Mentality & Computer Crime

Practicum: Technical writing: presentation of data, results, conclusions

Tutorial (small groups): Discussion of computer crime

Week 13: Lecture: Electronic Funds Transfer, Cybercash

Practicum: Technical writing: the abstract, executive summary

Tutorial (small groups): Discussion of electronic funds transfer

Week 14: Lecture: current topic of interest

Practicum: Technical writing-table of contents, appendices, team work log

Tutorial (small groups): Discussion of current topic of interest

Week 15: Final oral presentations of SIA with peer review (SIA Final Report due)