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 room 104
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 Essay; Read CA
    • The Classical Argument; The Classical Argument Lab
      • Read Chapter 1
    • Chapter 1 Introduction to Cyberethics: Concepts, Perspectives, and Methodological Frameworks
      • Read Chapter 2
    • Deadline for adding classes and late registration; 5 p.m. in person, midnight at UAOnline
    • Last day for student- and faculty-initiated drops with refund (course does not appear on academic record)
    • Chapter 2 Ethical Concepts and Ethical Theories: Establishing and Justifying a Moral System
      • Assignment 2 Essay
    • Deadline for tuition and fee payment; 5 p.m. in person, midnight at UAOnline
    • Chapter 2 continued
      • Assignment 1 Essay Due; Explore COS website: Resumes + Interviews
    • Creating an Effective Resume for Technical Professions; Resume Lab
      • Assignment 3 Resume; Read Chapter 3
    • Chapter 3 Critical Reasoning Skills for Evaluating Disputes in Cyberethics
      • Assignment 2 Essay Due
    • Group Project Examples; Brainstorming Techniques
      • Read Chapter 4
    • Brainstorming Lab
      • Assignment 3 Resume Due; Read IEEE
    • Brainstorming Lab continued (room 103)
      • Assignment 4 Brainstorming; Read SEC
    • Chapter 4 Professional Ethics, Codes of Conduct, and Moral Responsibility
    • Chapter 4 continued
    • ACM, IEEE-CS, and SECEPP Codes of Ethics Lab (room 103)
      • Read HCI
    • EXAM 1
      • Read Chapter 5
    • Human Computer Interaction
      • Read USE; Read CDE
    • Chapter 5 Privacy and Cyberspace
      • Assignment 4 Brainstorming Due
    • Chapter 5 Continued
      • Read Chapter 6
    • Usability and Contextual Design
      • Assignment 5 Usability; Read VDE
    • Contextual Design Lab
    • Deadline to apply for admission for spring semester (graduate students)
    • Chapter 6 Security in Cyberspace
      • Read Chapter 7; Skim TA
    • Hacktivism; Value Sensitive Design
      • Assignment 6 Value Sensitive Design
    • Value Sensitive Design Lab
    • Chapter 7 Cybercrime and Cyber-related Crimes
      • Read Chapter 8
    • Killswitch
      • Assignment 5 Usability Due
    • Task Analysis and StoryBoarding (room 103)
      • Assignment 7 Task Analysis
    • Chapter 8 Intellectual Property Disputes in Cyberspace
    • Deadline to apply for admission for spring semester (undergraduate students)
    • Chapter 8 Continued
      • Assignment 6 Value Sensitive Design 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 Task Analysis Due; Assignment 8 White Papers
    • Prototyping Lab (room 103)
      • Project Assignment: Video Prototyping and Digital Interactive Prototyping (DIP)
    • Software Licensing Issues; User's Manuals
      • Assignment 9 User Guides
    • Facebook, Google, and the Future of Free Speech
    • Chapter 9 Regulating Commerce and Speech in Cyberspace
    • Exam 2 Review
      • Read Chapter 10
    • EXAM 2
    • Group Project PRESENTATION 1: Current Status, DIP demo, and Next Steps
    • Chapter 10 The Digital Divide, Democracy, and Work
    • Cyberlaw: An Introduction
      • Assignment 8 White Papers Due; Assignment 10 Case Markup
    • Tort Law and the Civil Justice System
      • Cyberlaw: Legislative Initiatives
    • Cyberlaw: Legislative Initiatives
      • Assignment 9 User Guides Due
    • Cyberlaw: Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks
      • Assignment 10 Case Markup Due; Assignment 11 IRAC Analysis
    • Cyberlaw: Trade Secrets, eCommerce, and Contract Law
    • Last day of instruction
    • Assignment 11 IRAC Analysis due
    • Deadline for faculty to post grades, noon

Grading Policies

Weight Description
10% Quizzes
30% Assignments
30% Exams
30% 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%)

Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity

The University of Alaska Board of Regents have clearly stated in BOR policy that discrimination, harassment and violence will not be tolerated on any campus of the University of Alaska. If you believe you are experiencing discrimination or any form of harassment, including sexual harassment/misconduct/assault, you are encouraged to report that behavior. If you disclose sexual harassment or sexual violence to faculty members or university employees, they must notify the UAF Title IX coordinator about the basic facts of the incident. Your choices for disclosure include:

  1. You may confidentially disclose and access confidential counseling by contacting the UAF Health and Counseling Center at 474-7043.
  2. You can get support and file a Title IX report by contacting the UAF Title IX coordinator at 474-7599.
  3. You may file a criminal complaint by contacting the UAF Police Department at 474-7721.

From Disability Services: UAF is obligated to provide accommodation only to the known limitations of an otherwise qualified student who has a disability. Please identify yourself to UAF Disability Services by applying for accommodations. To be considered for UAF Disability Services accommodations, individuals must be enrolled for at least one credit as a UAF student. For more information contact Disability Services at uaf-disabilityservices@alaska.edu, 474-5655 or by TTY at 474-1827.


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. I will evaluate assignments 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, I will not allow 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
How to Identify Inartistic Proofs WikiHow HIIP
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


I will drop your one lowest quiz grade.


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.