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, Ed. 4, ISBN: 978-1-118-28172-7 RECOMMENDED: Publication Man. of the APA, Ed. 6 ,Kindle, ISBN: 978-1433805615

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

    • First day of instruction; late registration begins
    • Introduction & Course Mechanics
    • American Psychological Association Style; APA Lab
      • Assignment 1; Read CA
    • The Classical Argument; The Classical Argument Lab
      • Read Chapter 1
    • Labor Day (offices closed — no classes, registration or fee payment)
    • Chapter 1 Introduction to Cyberethics: Concepts, Perspectives, and Methodological Frameworks
      • Read Chapter 2
    • Last day for student- and faculty-initiated drops (course does not appear on academic record)
    • Chapter 2 Ethical Concepts and Ethical Theories: Establishing and Justifying a Moral System
      • Assignment 1 Due; Assignment 2; Explore COS website: Resumes + Interviews
    • Chapter 2 continued
      • Read Chapter 3
    • Creating an Effective Resume for Technical Professions; Resume Lab
      • Assignment 3
    • Chapter 3 Critical Reasoning Skills for Evaluating Disputes in Cyberethics
      • Assignment 2 Due
    • Group Project Examples; Brainstorming Techniques
      • Read Chapter 4
    • Brainstorming Lab
      • Assignment 3 Due; Read IEEE
    • Chapter 4 Professional Ethics, Codes of Conduct, and Moral Responsibility
      • Assignment 4; Read SEC
    • Chapter 4 continued
    • ACM, IEEE-CS, and SECEPP Codes of Ethics Lab
    • EXAM 1 Review
      • Read HCI
    • EXAM 1
      • Read Chapter 5
    • Human Computer Interaction
      • Read USE; Read CDE
    • Chapter 5 Privacy and Cyberspace
      • Assignment 4 Due
    • Chapter 5 Continued
      • Read Chapter 6
    • Usability and Contextual Design
      • Assignment 5; Read VDE
    • Contextual Design Lab
    • Deadline to apply for fall 2016 graduation
    • Chapter 6 Security in Cyberspace
      • Read Chapter 7; Skim TA
    • Hacktivism; Value Sensitive Design
      • Assignment 6
    • Value Sensitive Design Lab
    • Chapter 7 Cybercrime and Cyber-related Crimes
      • Read Chapter 8
    • The Pentagon Papers
      • Assignment 5 Due
    • Task Analysis and StoryBoarding
      • Assignment 7
    • Spring 2017 course list available at UAOnline
    • Chapter 8 Intellectual Property Disputes in Cyberspace
    • Deadline to apply for admission for spring semester (undergraduate students)
    • Chapter 8 Continued
      • Assignment 6 Due; Read Chapter 9
    • Last day for student- and faculty-initiated withdrawals (W grade appears on academic transcript)
    • Copyleft Licenses; White Papers: Types and Uses
      • Assignment 7 Due; Assignment 8
    • Prototyping Lab
    • Software Licensing Issues; User's Manuals
      • Assignment 9
    • Chapter 9 Regulating Commerce and Speech in Cyberspace
    • Chapter 9 Continued
      • Assignment 8 Due
    • Exam 2 Review
      • Read Chapter 10
    • Exam 2
    • Group Project PRESENTATION 1: Current Status and Next Steps
      • Assignment 9 Due
    • Chapter 10 The Digital Divide, Democracy, and Work
    • Thanksgiving holiday (no classes, most offices closed)
    • Thanksgiving holiday (no classes, most offices closed)
    • Cyberlaw: An Introduction
      • Assignment 10
    • Tort Law and the Civil Justice System
    • Cyberlaw: Legislative Initiatives
    • Cyberlaw: Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks
      • Assignment 10 Due; Assignment 11
    • Cyberlaw: Trade Secrets, eCommerce, and Contract Law
    • Last day of instruction
      • Assignment 11 due

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. I will deduct 10% per day for up to three days for late assignments. 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.