CISC 355: Computers, Ethics, and Society

Fall 2013
Instructor: Richard Gordon

Course Info, Grades, and Texts   |   Syllabus   |   Log in to Canvas

General Information

Richard Gordon
Office: 227LL, UDCC (192 S. Chapel Street)
Office Hours: Perkins Scrounge, By Appointment:
Set up an appointment
Phone: (302) 831-1717
Email: richard [at] udel [dot] edu
Eric McGinnis
Office: 103 Smith Hall (TA Room)
Office Hours: TBA

Meeting Information:
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:00 - 6:15 p.m.
104 Colburn Lab

Required Texts:
  • Quinn, M. (2012) Ethics for the Information Age. 5th Edition (Quinn)
  • An assortment of readings on the World-Wide Web.

Course Requirements:

In part because the content for this class changes from year to year--and sometimes from week to week, I'm always tinkering with this course. This year, we'll use

The best way to teach an applied ethics class is to give students the opportunity to discuss situations, either deciding how one could sort a situation out, or making sure one understands where other people's decisions come from. Therefore, I try to keep lecture to a minimum to leave plenty of time for our discussion. And you'll have plenty of opportunity to continue class discussion on line.

Here's how your work will be evaluated: 35% of your grade will come from "daily work" (online quizzes, in class exercises); 35% of your grade will come from online discussion (including current news stories); 30% of your grade will come from test and exam scores.

Expect quizzes or in-class exercises daily to make sure you stay up with the reading. I believe one reviewer at an off-campus site referred to my quizzes as "painfully easy." Keep up, and 35% of your grade will be A.

Class Attendance, Participation, Late Assignments, Academic Honesty:

  1. Attendance and Participation Policies:
    Students are expected to participate actively in all class discussions. Hence the daily quizzes and exercises. Being an active listener is fine. However, being physically present and reading the newspaper, studying for an exam in another class, facebooking or texting or "chatting on line with babes all day" does not make you an active participant.

    Treat class like you would treat a business obligation: Use common sense and courtesy and let your instructors know when you have to miss class meetings.

    CISC355 is a participatory class. If you miss class, you are depriving your colleagues of your input. Whether you are present or absent, you are responsible for every class meeting. All class meetings are recorded by the UD Capture service.

    Here are the specifics of the class absence policy:

    • Notify your instructor if you need to miss class. You should treat your classes like you treat a job. You wouldn't skip work without letting your boss know, would you?
    • Complete the work due that day by the time appointed.
    • Review the UD Capture recording of the class you missed.
    • To retain your quiz credit in Canvas for a day you missed, make a post to our Google Group about the class you missed and/or the readings for that class. Just a pagragraph or two that would "advance discussion"--like a contribution you would have made during the class meeting. If you've not made your Google Group "absence make-up" posting before the next class meeting, your quiz/daily work score for the day you missed will be reset to 0 (zero).
    • If you did not complete the quiz for a day you missed, you can still get half-credit for the quiz/daily work by making a post to the Google Group before the next class meeting.
    • There will often be in-class exercises that might be added to the daily work score in Sakai. If you miss an in-class exercise, make a Google Group posting about the class or discussion you missed to receive half-credit for the exercise.
    • Because of some issues the last two semesters, I am reserving the right to dock your semester grade for frequent absences. Before you panic, the penalty will not kick in until you miss a fourth class session. And, obviously, if you have negotiated -- in writing -- an excused absence with the instructor before the absence, no worries.
      • 1-3 absences: no penalty
      • 4-8 absences: 1 point off per class missed--including the first three
      • 9 or more absences: minimum of 18 points off. (-2 per class missed)
      • Examples using a semester average of 88 (B+)
        • Miss 0-3 classes: semester average remains 88 (B+)
        • Miss 4 classes: semester average drops to 84 (B)
        • Miss 7 classes: semester average drops to 81 (B-)
        • Miss 9 classes: semester average drops to 70 (C-)
    • Some of the above requirements may sound strict. Bottom line, students usually enjoy the class and learn quite a bit. Heavens knows, your instructor always learn new things when teaching this class!
  2. Late Assignments
    Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date indicated (unless otherwise noted on the syllabus). Any change in a due date must be negotiated with the instructor ahead of time. Do not assume that a date change has been granted just because you asked for one. Wait for the instructor's written approval or denial of your request. However, ask for an extension rather than copy someone else's assignment. Several years ago, two students received zeros on their final exams because one copied the other's exam with that student's permission.
  3. Academic Honesty
    Students are expected to do their own work. I fully expect you to discuss things outside of class with your colleagues; however, when it comes time to take a quiz, do an individual project, write an exam, etc., all students need to write independently--unless the assignment specifically asks for you to collaborate with classmates.

Grade Scale:

                   A = 94.0 and up; A- = 90.1 - 93.9
B+ = 87.5 - 90.0;  B = 83.5 - 87.4; B- = 80.1 - 83.4
C+ = 77.5 - 80.0;  C = 74.0 - 77.4; C- = 71.1 - 73.9
D+ = 68.0 - 71.0;  D = 65.0 - 67.9; D- = 63.0 - 64.9
F  = under 63.0

If you keep up with the work, grades are not usually too much of an issue. In aggregate, over 80% of the students in my sections did work that earned a grade of B or higher. Given how easy the quizzes usually are, it is rare for a student's work to earn a grade under 75 in my sections.

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Fall 2013 Syllabus