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 103
Course Website
Required Texts
Ethics and Technology: Controversies, Questions, and Strategies for Ethical Computing, 4th Ed. ISBN: 9781118281727

Course Description

This course explores moral responsibilities and ethical decision-making by applying ethical theories, professional ethics and codes of conduct, and cyber-related law to cyber-ethical issues, such as privacy, security, and cybercrime. In addition, this course uses human-computer interaction development and other industry standards, such as white papers and user manuals, to reinforce technical writing concepts.

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 apply Value Sensitive Design

Tentative Schedule

    • Introduction & Course Mechanics
      • Read Chapter 1
    • FYI: Labor Day (offices closed — no classes, registration or fee payment)
    • Chapter 1 Introduction to Cyberethics: Concepts, Perspectives, and Methodological Frameworks
      • Assignment 1; Read CA
    • FYI: Deadline for adding classes, late registration and fee payment; 5 p.m. in person, midnight at UAOnline
    • Chapter 1 continued; Grammatical Elements
    • 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; Explore COS website: Resumes + Interviews
    • FYI: Last day for student- and faculty-initiated drops (course does not appear on academic record)
    • Chapter 2 continued
    • 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
    • ACM, IEEE-CS, and SECEPP Codes of Ethics Lab
    • EXAM 1 Review
    • EXAM 1
      • Read HCI
    • Human Computer Interaction
      • Assignment 4 Due; 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; Skim TA
    • FYI: Last day for student- and faculty-initiated withdrawals (W grade appears on academic transcript)
    • Chapter 7 Cybercrime and Cyber-related Crimes
      • Assignment 5 Due
    • FYI: Deadline to apply for admission for spring semester (undergraduate students)
    • Task Analysis and StoryBoarding
      • Assignment 7; Read Chapter 8
    • Chapter 8 Intellectual Property Disputes in Cyberspace
    • Copyleft Licenses; White Papers: Types and Uses
      • Assignment 8; Assignment 6 Due
    • Prototyping Lab
      • Read Chapter 9
    • Software Licensing Issues; 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
    • FYI: Thanksgiving holiday (no classes, most offices closed)
    • FYI: Thanksgiving holiday (no classes, most offices closed)
    • Cyberlaw: An Introduction
      • Assignment 9 Due; Assignment 10
    • Tort Law and the Civil Justice System
    • Arbitration Agreements; Cyberlaw: Legislative Initiatives
      • Assignment 11
    • Cyberlaw: Legislative Initiatives (continued)
      • Assignment 10 Due
    • Cyberlaw: Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks
    • Cyberlaw: Trade Secrets, eCommerce, and Contract Law
      • Assignment 11 Due
    • FYI: Last day of instruction

Grading Policies

Weight Description
30% Assignments
30% Exams
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
    • 20%     Spelling and grammar
    • 60%     Technical content

You may discuss homework assignments with others, but everything you turn in must be your own work.


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, 1986 CA
Career One Stop Department of Labor COS
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
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
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.