CS371 Computer Ethics and Technical Communication

3 + 0
  • COMM131 or COMM141
  • CS202
  • ENGL211 or ENGL213
John Quan
Duckering 529
Office Hours
By Appointment
Meeting Time
Chapman 206
Course Website
Required Texts
Ethics and Technology: Controversies, Questions, and Strategies for Ethical Computing, 4th Ed. ISBN 978-1-118-28172-7

Course Description

Explores the social, legal and ethical issues aggravated, transformed or created by computer technology, with an additional focus on technical communication skills needed in the computer industry.

Course Outcomes

  • Ability to create effective end-user documentation
  • Ability to contribute effectively to a group presentation
  • Understand and apply the ACM code of ethics (or similar) and principles underlying them
  • Understands software licensing issues
  • Demonstrates ethical decision making
  • Ability to write a technical "white paper"
  • Ability to give an effective oral presentation
  • Ability to create effective end-user documentation

Tentative Schedule

    • Introduction & Course Mechanics
      • Read Chapter 1
    • Chapter 1 Introduction to Cyberethics: Concepts, Perspectives, and Methodological Frameworks
      • Assignment 1; Read MS3 Ch 10; Read CA
    • Chapter 1 continued; Grammatical Elements; UAF Editorial Style Guide;
    • The Classical Argument; The Classical Argument Lab
      • Read Chapter 2
    • Chapter 2 Ethical Concepts and Ethical Theories: Establishing and Justifying a Moral System
      • Assignment 1 Due; Assignment 2; Read TAP
    • Chapter 2 continued
    • FYI: Deadline for 100% refund of tuition and fees; Deadline for student- and faculty-initiated drops (course does not appear on academic record)
    • Creating an Effective Resume for Technical Professions; Resume Lab
      • Read Chapter 3
    • Chapter 3 Critical Reasoning Skills for Evaluating Disputes in Cyberethics
      • Assignment 2 Due; Assignment 3
    • Group Project Examples; Brainstorming Techniques
    • Brainstorming Lab
      • Read Chapter 4
    • Chapter 4 Professional Ethics, Codes of Conduct, and Moral Responsibility
      • Assignment 3 Due; Assignment 4; Read IEEE
    • Chapter 4 continued
      • Read SEC; Read ACM
    • IEEE-CS; SECEPP; Using the New ACM Code of Ethics in Decision Making
    • EXAM 1 Review
      • Assignment 4 Due
    • Exam 1
      • Read HCI
    • Human Computer Interaction
      • Read Chapter 5
    • Chapter 5 Privacy and Cyberspace
      • Read USE; Read CDE
    • Usability and Contextual Design
      • Assignment 5
    • Contextual Design Lab
      • Read Chapter 6
    • Chapter 6 Security in Cyberspace
      • Read VDE
    • Hacktivism; Value Sensitive Design
      • Assignment 6
    • Value Sensitive Design Lab
      • Read Chapter 7
    • Chapter 7 Cybercrime and Cyber-related Crimes
      • Skim TA; Skim SKE
    • Task Analysis and Prototyping
      • Assignment 5 Due; Assignment 7
    • Task Analysis and Prototyping Lab
      • Read Chapter 8
    • FYI: Deadline to apply for admission for spring semester (undergraduate students); Deadline for student- and faculty-initiated withdrawals (W grade appears on academic record)
    • White Papers: Types and Uses
      • Assignment 8
    • Chapter 8 Intellectual Property Disputes in Cyberspace
      • Assignment 6 Due
    • Chapter 8 Continued; Software Licensing Issues
      • Read Chapter 9
    • Software Licensing Issues continued; User's Manuals
      • Assignment 9
    • Chapter 9 Regulating Commerce and Speech in Cyberspace
      • Assignment 7 Due
    • Chapter 9 Continued
    • EXAM 2 Review
    • Exam 2
      • Assignment 8 Due
    • Group Project PRESENTATION 1: Current Status and Next Steps
      • Read Chapter 10
    • Chapter 10 The Digital Divide, Democracy, and Work
      • Assignment 9 Due
    • Cyberlaw: An Introduction
      • Read Chapter 11; Assignment 10
    • FYI: Thanksgiving holiday (no classes, most offices closed)
    • FYI: Thanksgiving holiday (no classes, most offices closed)
    • Chapter 11 Online Communities, Cyber Identities, and Social Networks
    • Cyberlaw: Legislative Initiatives
      • Assignment 10 Due; Assignment 11
    • Cyberlaw: Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks
      • Read Chapter 12
    • Chapter 12 Ethical Aspects of Emerging and Converging Technologies
    • Cyberlaw: Trade Secrets, eCommerce, and Contract Law
      • Assignment 11 Due; Assignment 12
      • Assignment 12 Due
    • FYI: Last day of instruction
    • Group Project PRESENTATION 2: 1pm - 3pm
      • Assignment 12 Due (no penalty)

Grading Policies

Weight Description
30% Exams
30% Assignments
40% Group Projects

Grades will be assigned based on the following percentage intervals:

[95%, 100%)

[90%, 95%)
[85%, 90%)
[80%, 85%)

[75%, 80%)
[70%, 75%)
[65%, 70%)

[60%, 65%)
[55%, 60%)
[50%, 55%)

[45%, 50%)
[40%, 45%)
[0%, 40%)


Assignments will reinforce lecture concepts and demonstrate application of critical thinking skills. Unless otherwise specified, all assignments must be done on an individual basis. LATE SUBMISSIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. Assignments marked with an asterisk (*) will be evaluated based on:

    • 20%     Formatting and layout (Does it look like a professional created it?)
    • 20%     Spelling and grammar
    • 60%     Technical content (is it complete and correct?)

You may discuss homework assignments with others, but everything you turn in must be your own work.  I will drop your lowest graded assignment so that one low score or missing assignment will not affect your final grade.


Examinations MUST be taken at the scheduled time. In particular, there will be no early final exams.

Other Texts

We will use excerpts from most of these texts throughout the semester.

Title Location Code
The Classical Argument Adapted from Walter Beale, Real Writing, 2nd edition, 1986 CA
Using the New ACM Code of Ethics in Decision Making ACM.org ACM
Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice ACM.org SEC
IEEE Code of Ethics IEEE.org IEEE
TAP Supplement: Create an Effective Resume DOL.gov TAP
U.S. DOL Employment Workshop: TAP Participant Guide DOL.gov TPG
Human-Computer Interaction Wikipedia.org HCI
Usability Wikipedia.org USE
Contextual Design Wikipedia.org CDE
Value Sensitive Design and Information Systems VDesign.org VDE
Task Analysis Dr. Matthias Rauterberg, TU/e TA
Purdue Online Writing Lab APA Formatting and Style Guide OWL
Sketching User Experiences Rasmuson Library [electronic resource] SKE
The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr Gutenberg.org ES


Students are expected to be at every class meeting on time, and are responsible for all class content, whether present or not. If absence from class is necessary, in-class work (other than quizzes) and homework may be made up only if the instructor is notified as soon as possible; in particular, absences due to scheduled events must be arranged ahead of time. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated, and will be dealt with according to UAF procedures. Students in this class must pay the CS lab fee.

UAF academic policies http://www.uaf.edu/catalog/current/academics

CS Department policies http://www.cs.uaf.edu/departmental-policies/

Disabilities Services:

The UAF Office of Disability Services implements the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and ensures that UAF students have equal access to the campus and course materials. I will work with the UAF Office of Disability Services (208 WHITAKER BLDG, 474-5655) to provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities.