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CS 335 Syllabus

Learning objectives

  • An understanding of professional, ethical, legal, security and social issues and responsibilities.
  • An ability to analyze the local and global impact of computing on individuals, organizations, and society.


  • Main text, with the majority of reading: Michael J. Quinn, Ethics for the Information Age, 4th edition.
  • Additional text, with some required reading: Abelson, Ledeen, and Lewis, Blown to Bits. See the book's website, which contains links where you can download the book for free. This is an outstanding not too technical book on contemporary privacy issues. It is well worth buying. However, it simply does not contain some topics we must cover in this class.

Topics, Readings

Tentative! Subject to change without notice. Amount of time per subject likely to change based on class interest.
  1. Introduction to IT policy issues. Discussion of book report, term paper, and leading debate or discussion. Read Quinn, Chapter 1.1, 1.5 and Quinn Chapter 1 Interview, and Blown to Bits, Chapter 1. (Reading due for start of Wednesday's class)
  2. History of Computing Read Quinn, 1.2–1.4.
  3. Introduction to classic ethics. Read Quinn, Chapter 2.1, and 2.6 through end of Chapter 2, including interview.
  4. Computer reliabiilty, and errors and failures. Liability. Risks, importance of professionalism. For Monday, read Quinn, Chapter 7.1–7.4, 7.8, and, for Wednesday, Therac-25 case, including mock trial for Therac-25 deaths, read Quinn, 7.5–7.7, and Leveson's Report on the Therac-25 incident.
  5. The Internet and the Web
    1. Freedom of expression: attempts to censor the Internet, filters, international issues, also the problem of spam. Quinn 3.1–3.6.
    2. Modern problems: Identity theft, cyberbullying, Internet addiction. Quinn 3.7–end-of-Chapter interview.
  6. Intellectual property: copyright and fair use. Copyright versus patent versus trade secret. Filesharing and "piracy" of software, music, movies, etc. DMCA controversies. Expect to have one outside speaker from library on fair use, and a second (either outside IP lawyer or from UIC Office of Technology Management) on how you can protect the software that you write to makea living. Read Quinn, Chapter 4.1–4.7.
  7. Intellectual property 2: Open-Source software and Creative Commons. Quinn, rest of Chapter 4.
  8. Midterm exam perhaps Wednesday October 17. (Subject to change!)
  9. Privacy: What they know, data aggregation, how 2011 is 1984. Facebook. Read Bits, Chapter 2 and Quinn, 5.9.9, p. 267 (on the Facebook Beacon fiasco.)
  10. Privacy: Philosophy. Quinn, Chapter 5.1–5.2.
  11. Privacy: Government surveillance, and US laws relating to same. Quinn, 5.5–5.9.6.
  12. Encyption, Quinn 5.11, and Bits, pp. 191–193.
  13. Cyber-Crime: Identity theft, malware, hackers, bots, etc. Quinn 5.10, 6.1–6.4.
  14. Computers' impact on Society: Workplace issues, the Digital Divide, the "Winner-Take-All Society". Quinn Chapter 9.
  15. Ethical issues for computing professionals. Quinn Chapter 8.


This policy is subject to change at any time for any reason.
Topic, partner, and format selected by Monday morning of 3rd week
Outline of main point and resources by later of 4th week or 2 weeks in advance
Pop quizzes, midterm, and possible final
2 short writing assignments (total)
Term paper
Class participation
Total: 100%

Leading Discussion or Debate

Students may choose a topic, a partner, and a presentation week up until the end of the second week of class.

Once you have decided, please edit the Google Docs document for Choosing discussion topics for CS 335 to give your chosen week, topic, and people.

After the second week students will be assigned topics and partners. For your assigned topic area you must then select a specific topic to use for your presentation, discussion or debate. To help you do this I suggest you look at the current news, and the textbook. You can look at the text's discussion topics, in-class exercises, and also at student present, as well as a previous text book's associated web site (A Gift of Fire, by Sara Baase).

For your chosen topic you will then give a presentation, lead the class in a discussion, or have a debate. By the beginning of the third week of class you must post your specific topic for my approval, as well as indicating whether you will be lecturing, moderating the class discussion or having a debate. Your prepared portion of your discussion or debate should last 20–25 minutes, including at least 5 minutes at the end for questions / interaction with the class. Part of your discussion/debate grade will be the extent to which your presentation stimulates thought or questions, and your ability to answer questions/challenges given by the class in response to your comments.

For discussions, students should share responsibility for preparation and presentation.The focus here is to engage the class, to get them interested, and to get them talking along the specific lines of your topic. (See this discussion of ways to get the audience involved.)

For debates (in a group presentation), students should again share the time evenly, presenting views and rebuttals of opponents positions. You should be empassioned in your argumentation, attempting to pursuade the listeners to your views by facts, analogy, and logical arguments.

Grading for Presentation, Discussion or Debate

Students should share responsibility for preparation and presentation. For Leading Discussions, everyone in the group will receive the same grade. For Debates, you will be graded individually. You will be graded on a scale of 0 to 4 for each of the following 5 areas:
  1. Interesting. Engages the class and stimulates discussion. Well thought-out questions for the class.
  2. Communicates verbally effectively. (Argues convincingly for debates.)
  3. Use of visual aids (overheads, board, web, handouts, etc.).
  4. Understands the issues; Knows the facts, main points, uses supporting cases/scenarios/questions.
  5. Well-prepared; Knows exactly who is doing what in the group; Uses appropriate amount of time, including 5 minutes at the end for interaction with class.
This gives a possible total of 20 points. For each area, a grade of 3 is considered normal, for a "normal" total score of 15. Only truly outstanding performance will get a score higher than a 3 (out of 4) for any of the above 4 areas.

Writing Assignments

This semester, there will be 3 writing assignments: a very short assignment due Wednesday of third week, a book report, and a term paper. The writing assignments will all be turned in via Blackboard.

These assignments will be graded primarily on content, but I will also grade the mechanics of the writing. For the term paper, each of you will review a draft of another student's paper, and a few of the points for the term paper will be based on that review.

Mechanics (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.) will count some of the grade for all writing assignments.

For (free!) help with your writing, I encourage you to use the UIC Writing Center. Writing tutors are your friends and allies!

Quizzes, Midterm, Final

There will be a cumulative midterm.

Quizzes will be given at the beginning of class. Those who arrive late will have less time or will entirely miss the quiz, which will last around 5 minutes.

Both quizzes and the midterm will be based on previous lectures and assigned readings. I suggest you look at the review questions at the end of chapters. No makeup quizzes will be given, but the lowest quiz grade will be dropped.

I have not yet decided whether to give a final.

Class Participation

Discussion is a critically important component of this class. Class participation means being actively involved in discussions and asking questions, demonstrating you have read the material, and have thought about it ahead of time. After I have assigned readings or position papers I will choose members from the class to comment. I will ask you to read one of your classmate's term papers (I'll tell you whose) and will ask random students for their thoughts. I will keep track of who is prepared and who isn't. You have to be present to comment, so I will take roll regularly (perhaps by asking questions using the class list).

Rules, Regulations, Academic Integrity


UIC Undergraduate catalog states that in addition to needing excellent justification for an incomplete, a student must lso have been "making satisfactory progress in the course."

Therefore, no matter how good your excuse, I will not grant you an ncomplete if you have less than a C average at the time you ask for n incomplete.

Academic Integrity

Any writing you do must cite any sources you used for ideas, and must indicate specifically any exact quotation, and must have a specific citation immediately following or receding any non-exact quotation that is a restatement of another source. Any failure to do these things is plagiarism.

In general, I expect this course to be rather generous in its grading or a computer science major course.
However, the minimum penalty for any cheating, including but not limited to plagiarism, will be an F for the ourse (not just the assignment in question!), and the maximum enalty is expulsion from the University.


The structure of the presentations come mainly from Dr. Dale Reed's 2009 version of CS 335.

The structure of the book report and term paper are based on suggestions of Sara Baase (author of a textbook sometimes used for this course in other semesters).

-- Main.troy - 2012-08-24

Topic revision: r2 - 2012-08-27 - 18:35:18 - Main.troy
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