- Attendance (30%)
- Blogging (37%)
- Blog setup (2%)
- Smallish Posts (16%)
- Current Events (6%)
- Book-Inspired Posts (8%)
- Blog Comments (3%)
- Personal Writing Workshop (2%)
- Readings (13%)
- Daily Readings (6%)
- Elements of Style (2%)
- The Cuckoo's Egg (2%)
- Here Comes Everybody (3%)
- Social Networking (8%)
- LinkedIn (2%)
- Internet Safety Wiki (6%)
- Position Vlog (6%)
- Literary Extravaganza (2%)
- Articles of Personal Ethics (4%)
Class participation is a significant part of the experience of this course. Since it is extremely difficult to grade class participation fairly (especially the qualitative elements), we grade participation via attendance and we expect participation by all attendees.
Here's a slightly more profound explanation:
- In the university setting, there are, broadly speaking, two kinds of classes — skills classes and experience classes.
- A skills class is one where the goal is to acquire a specific set of skills. Most math and language classes are like this. That's why you can get back from your mission to Mexico and test out of 16 hours of Spanish credit. If you can speak it, you get the credit for it. In other words, you have the skill, so you don't need the class.
- An experiential class is primarily about going through something together for some reason. A lot of religion classes are experiential, despite the quizzes and exams that test you for knowledge. PE classes are largely experiential. The best basketball player in PE class doesn't just show up, hit a jump shot and test out of the class. While there's a skill component to the grading, participation is crucial in a PE class.
- In practice, most courses are some sort of hybrid, not purely skills or experiential.
- CS 404 is an almost entirely experiential class. As evidence, you may note that there are no quizzes or exams in this class. Hence, attendance points give you the opportunity to score points simply by showing up with at least one vital sign.
The following are important guidelines relative to attendance:
- Attendance is mandatory.
- Attendance is a significant chunk of the grade in this class, and you earn it at the rate of 100% if you materialize in person, keep your laptop shut and your phone in your pocket.
- Attendance grades will be lowered for students who exhibit chronic tardiness.
- Students with open laptops or cell phones will lose 1 of 3 attendance points for that day.
- Exceptions to the laptop policy can be negotiated in advance with the instructor.
- Exceptions to the laptop policy are only granted for class-related reasons.
- A student loses 3% of the course grade per absence, up to a maximum penalty of all attendance points.
- If you have legitimate conflicts, you must communicate these to the instructor in as timely a manner as possible.
- Before the fact is the epitome of timely, and is the ideal situation.
- If the conflict is unforeseen, please communicate as quickly as you can after the fact.
- Excused absences require make-up work where possible.
- Flexibility in excusing absences without penalty is at the discretion of the instructor. Please keep in mind that we are quite forgiving as long as there is honest communication!
- An attendance roll will be passed around class each day.
- You are to personally initial this attendance roll.
- You may not initial for another student, whether that student is present or absent.
I want you to learn to write better. The best way to do that is to write. I also want the writing that you do to be as meaningful as possible. The best way to achieve that is to stop writing throw-away junk for the TA and the professor and start writing to whatever part of the world wants to hear from you. Blogging achieves both of those purposes. I also want you to get some hands-on experience with a fairly revolutionary social networking phenomenon so that you understand more deeply what all the fuss is about.
Since all of your writing for this course will be posted on your blog, you need to get your blog set up as quickly as possible. To help incentivize you, we've assigned a few percent to this phase of the blogging operation. If you already have a blog set up that meets these requirements, then you're already done.
The following are important guidelines relative to setting up your blog:
- Every student is required to set up a publicly accessible blog.
- I recommend using a free hosting service like Blogger.com or WordPress.com. They're free, tend to be full-featured, and are nicely accessible to the world.
- If you already have a blog, you're free to use that for this course.
- The blog you use needs to be under your control, but can't be behind a firewall or otherwise inaccessible to the world (like a Facebook blog in a private account).
- You must set up or have access to some mechanism that easily tells you what your visitor and RSS traffic looks like. Your hosting site may have some capability already, or you may need to research and install some third party solution. (FeedBurner and Google Analytics are both good services.)
When you have completed the steps identified here, you need to email the TA and provide the following information:
- Title of your blog
- URL of your blog
- Report of traffic tracking mechanism used
Grading for the Blog Setup is binary — do the steps and get the points.
It's your responsibility to email the TA with this information by midnight on the designated due date. If you fail to complete this step by the due date, you can finish it and notify us within 48 hours late for a loss of half the possible points. After 48 hours late you lose all of the course grade for this assignment, but you still have to set up your blog, since all writing assignments are submitted via personal blogs.
Our discussions are largely driven by the readings assigned for each day. It is difficult to have meaningful class discussions unless everyone has read the material and thought through some of the implications. In addition, writing is a critical skill that can be dramatically improved through exercise. Hence, smallish blog posts are required.
The following are important guidelines relative to daily readings and smallish blog posts:
- Assigned readings are identified in the schedule and need to be read before class.
- Inspired by the issues raised in the readings, you are to write one reasonably sized, meaningful paragraph with some insight or original thought.
- I really do mean ONE reasonably sized paragraph. Not multiple paragraphs jammed together, masquerading as one behemoth paragraph.
- On a normal blog, one reasonable paragraph is generally not going to be longer than 10 lines or so.
- One paragraph should deal with one thought or idea. Limit your focus to a single thought.
- Your written comments must explore the topic and not simply regurgitate what the author said. Neither should your comments simply disagree with what the author said. What are your thoughts on the subject?
- You will be graded on writing mechanics as well as insight.
- Blog posts are submitted to the entire world, via your personal blog. The entry must be posted prior to 11:00 a.m. on the day that it is due.
- Remember that English 316 is a prerequisite for this course. We expect you to be capable writers when you arrive. But whether you are or aren't, we're going to try and help you get better.
- Getting 100% on the daily insights is largely a deterministic test of your commitment to good writing and thoughtful analysis and is reasonably achievable by every student.
- Entries posted after 11:00 a.m. but within 48 hours will be accepted
with a penalty of one point. Entries either not posted or posted more than 48 hours late will not be graded.
- In case of extenuating circumstances, let us know as quickly as possible and we will work with you on due dates.
The following grading scale applies:
- Writing and Insight:
5 = Thoughtful, well-written and engaging. No grammatical problems.
4 = Reasonably thoughtful and well-written, but with minor grammatical problems.
3 = Not particularly thoughtful, or not well-written, or suffering from significant grammatical problems.
2 = Suffering considerably in thoughtfullness, writing style, and/or grammatical construction.
1 = Obviously slopped together with little or no thought or effort.
0 = Not posted within 48 hours of the due date/time
Yes, this is a very coarse-grained grading approach when viewed per paragraph. Why do we do it this way?
- When a decent effort is put forth by a student, the grade for daily insights is consistently higher than it would have been with a finer-grained grading approach.
- When little or no effort is put forth, the grade is consistently lower than it would have been otherwise.
- In either case, when you average the grades across multiple postings, it comes out in the wash (very much the same way that short answer questions on an exam aggregate in a statistically reasonable way).
- The grading by the TA can actually be much more objective and fair, and it facilitates quicker turnaround for assignments.
Tips for success:
- Before turning in your paragraph — edit it! Have someone else read it. Don't write it the day it's due. Come back to it and re-read it sometime after you originally wrote it. If it's well-written, you'll get the point for writing.
- Engage your brain and digest the material instead of rushing through it. Spend some time thinking about the issues, underlying ideas, and tangential areas of analysis. Find a tangent or element that grabs you and explore that for one well-written paragraph. If there's evidence of original thought and effective analysis (regardless of your perspective), you'll get the point for analysis.
We'd like to apply the insights and analysis from our discussions to current events that occur during this semester. Several times during the semester you will be required to cite a news or analysis story from some published source (ideally Internet-based) that relates to the broad topics we're discussing in the course and provide your insights and analysis.
The following are important guidelines relative to current events:
- You must link to the article in your blog posting.
- You must write a "smallish blog post" paragraph relating to this current event.
- Current events will be graded the same way as smallish blog postings.
- The entry must be posted prior to 11:00 a.m. on the day that it is due (just like smallish blog posts).
- Even though you link to the article that inspired your post, the guidelines for blogging about daily readings still apply — don't simply respond to the article, but share your own original thought, inspired by the cited article.
You will read two books this semester that are intended to inspire thought about contemporary issues ("The Cuckoo's Egg," "Here Comes Everybody"). Our goal is to provide you with an opportunity for deeper exploration on specific topics. While we will spend some time discussing these books in class, the bulk of your experience will be your own reading and a written blog post inspired by the books.
The following are important guidelines relative to the blogging you'll do inspired by these books:
- Both books are assigned and mandatory for all students.
- By the assigned due dates/times, you must have completed reading the book and have written a thoughtful blog posting of some substance.
- A book response is like a longer version of the smallish blog postings from the daily readings.
- You must provide insight and analysis on the general topic. This is not a book report, so do not simply regurgitate what the author said.
- You will be graded on writing as well as insight.
- Your blog entry must be posted no later than 11:00 a.m. on the due date.
- Essays posted after 11:00 a.m. but within 48 hours will be accepted with a penalty of one point. Essays either not posted or posted more than 48 hours late will not be graded.
The book-inspired posts are graded on the same scale as the smallish blog posts.
Students write better when they know that they have an audience beyond the class TA. Knowing that other students will be reading your work tends to increase the quality of what you produce. Students also tend to write better when they can more effectively calibrate their own writing. Seeing how others write helps build perspective on your own writing. Reading is a great way to improve one's own writing.
Beginning in the third week of the semester (the week after the first blog post) you need to find two blog posts from other students in the class, read their blog post, and leave a comment on their blog.
The following guidelines apply:
- At least two comments each week (more than two is fine, but two are required).
- You must grab a unique pair of blogs each week that you haven't commented on previously.
- Comment every week, even if there isn't a blogging assignment that week.
- There is no qualititative grade on the nature of your comment. Meaningful is good, but not required.
- Be nice. Your blog is also being read by fellow students.
Personal Writing Workshop
Sometime in the first six weeks of the semester (barring unforeseen complications) each student will meet with Dr. K for 10 minutes to review your blog posts to that point and give personalized feedback on your writing.
- The personalized writing workshops are held in Dr. K's office.
- We pull up your blog and read a couple entries.
- Experience suggests that the first sentence of any randomly selected blog post will exhibit two of your 10 biggest writing struggles. So we just grab one, start reading and respond to whatever jumps out as notably cool or notably problematic. You get a customized critique that hopefully gets you thinking more objectively about your own writing.
- Please be on time to your appointment!
- Please knock on the door prior to your appointed time so the people inside know you're there. (We call this interrupt mode, as opposed to polling mode. Think of it as launching an event service routine with my door as the API.)
- Failure to show for your appointment costs you 1/2 of the points. You can reschedule for the other half of the points.
- Showing up any time after your appointed time costs you 1/4. I calibrate this based on the time that you knock on my door.
- As always, if you have extenuating circumstances, let me know and I'll dispense with the demerits.
- Sorry for being so persnickety about the timing. It's just that moving 60+ students through my office takes something like 10-15 hours out of my life, and my experience is that it gets really ugly really fast when people blow it off or show up late.
We are reading three books this semester:
- "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White
- "The Cuckoo's Egg" by Cliff Stoll (or another book on hacking, approved by the instructor)
- A book on technology and society, chosen at your discretion but with instructor approval
The books must be read by the class period on the day in which the Book-Inspired Post is due.
"The Elements of Style" should be digested slowly (not more than ten pages in a day) and completed by the date indicated on the schedule.
The schedule identifies readings for a number of class periods. These readings need to be read before class on those days.
- Students will be asked on the class roll to report the percent of readings completed for that day.
- The non-book daily readings for the class constitute a chunk of the course grade. Each day in which non-book readings are assigned has a potential 100% readings score for that day. Your report of the percent of readings completed constitutes your score for that day.
Social networking is one of the amazing phenomena of our day. I know almost all of you have Facebook accounts already, but you're going to do something more long-lasting and professionally valuable.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site. Each of you will be required to:
- Create a LinkedIn account.
- Find someone on LinkedIn that you already know and establish a connection.
- Send an invitation to someone who is not currently registered with LinkedIn.
Each of these actions is one third of the grade for this assignment.
When you have completed the LinkedIn assignment, you need to email the TA by midnight on the designated due date and let us know that it's completed. If you fail to complete this step by the due date, you can finish it and notify us within 48 hours late for a loss of 1 point. After 48 hours late you lose all of the course grade for this assignment.
Internet Safety Wiki
As a course on Ethics and Computers in Society, I feel it's important to join in the broader Internet community to try and do something of value in the world. As a result I have felt it important to perform some sort of service that relates to the subject of the course.
In Fall 2007, the students of CS 404 launched the Internet Safety Podcast. There is a huge need for this material in the world, and we figured BYU ought to be at the forefront of helping in this area.
Since then, we launched a companion site, the Internet Safety Wiki. Think Wikipedia but the entire topic is Internet Safety, and we manage it here at BYU.
In addition to the Podcast and Wiki, we now have an Internet Safety Twitter feed, and an Internet Safety Group on Facebook.
In 2010 we launched the Internet Safety Project, which is a consolidated portal encapsulating the Podcast and Wiki plus guest bloggers, etc. The updated portal went live during Fall semester 2010. Here is the site for the Internet Safety Project.
We'd like all class members to contribute in some meaningful way to these efforts. The grade for this portion of the course will be awarded in a fairly linear fashion: 1.5 hours invested for each percentage point awarded. Investment time can include research, writing, editing, or any other worthwhile activity that helps the cause. I would encourage a regular contribution each week.
There are three due dates designated for this effort. One third of your hours need to be done by each of these deadlines. By midnight on the due date, you need to email the TA and provide a report of your contribution including hours spent, specific work you performed, research performed, etc.
IMPORTANT: As soon as possible, please register for an account on the Internet Safety Wiki, which will allow you to contribute content. You must email your username to the TA within the first week of the semester.
NOTE: If you have another worthwhile cause that is similar in work structure, but about which you care more deeply, please see the instructor and we will readily consider alternative work of this type.
I want every student to have experience understanding and articulating a personal position on some ethical or moral issue involving computers and society. Even the quietest students have great thoughts that we would all benefit from hearing.
Therefore, each student will have one chance during the semester to make a position statement to the rest of the class. To encourage a high quality presentation to as broad an audience as possible, your position statement will be made via video post on your blog.
- Students have between 0:45 and 1:15 (that's 0.75 and 1.25 minutes) to present your position statement.
- The student's position must be abundantly clear to the viewer. You should feel free to use the phrase, "My position is…"
- The video blog post should be polished and professional. Typical problems include poor sound quality (bad hum from your cell phone recording technology), lighting problems (sitting on a couch backlit by a lamp), setting (do you really want to record yourself sitting in front of your bedroom closet?), stilted and awkward reading (practice this a bit and try to make it sound natural), eyes staring off-screen while reading.
- There is no penalty for controversial or riot-inducing perspectives, so long as they are well-presented and well-supported.
- Grading will consider the quality of the video itself, the quality of the verbal presentation, the quality of the analysis, and the timing of the presentation.
- Most vlog posts involve a student in front of the camera, but you're not limited to this approach. Feel free to be a bit more creative, but make it high quality no matter what you do.
- Your video has to be viewable directly from your blog. Linking to some other site, requiring the user to click away from your blog to watch it is not acceptable.
The following grading scale will be used for the position statement:
3 = Professional quality production with few if any flaws
2 = Decent production but with some problems
1 = Poor production with significant problems
- Insight and analysis:
3 = Insight and analysis are clear and meaningful
2 = Analysis is difficult to follow, points not entirely clear
1 = Not apparent that much thought went into it, or not very clear at all
3 = Presentation is smooth and pleasant to watch
2 = Presentation is stilted or otherwise distracting
1 = Presentation is very distracting and poorly executed.
1 = Within time limits
0 = Too short or too long
1 = Makes a significant impression, does something truly unique or executes exceptionally well
On the last day of class we will spend some time sharing some talents that originate from the side of your brains that a compiler doesn't tax. The default deliverable is two literary works from each of you. However, I'll take any other creative contribution (song, video, art, interpretive dance, whatever).
The only content requirement for the Literary Extravaganza is that your works have something to do with the overall focus of this class.
For literary works, I have three preferred formats. You can choose the format that you prefer (or propose something else if you have another idea).
- Free form poetry
- Very short story
This is a Japanese form of poetry that follows the following format: 3 lines, with the first line 5 syllables, the second line 7 syllables, the third line 5 syllables. It doesn't have to rhyme at all (generally doesn't).
Good haiku poems set up some thought in the first line, transition in the middle, and resolve in the end.
Here's an example:
The butterflies dance
Brilliant colors of rainbows—
Rippling like water
Can rhyme or not, whatever. Just a poem.
This is not a poem at all, but a short story in 140 characters or less. Inspired by the Twitter feed VeryShortStory.
Grading for the literary extravaganza is completely binary: Deliver two works, get full credit.
I will select from the contributions and present the greatest hits on the last day of class.
Please email your literary works directly to the professor. If your magnum opus is textual, please include it in the body of the email (not as an attachment). Obviously graphics, sound files, etc., must be attached.
As we talk about computers and society, and the ethical implications of issues that you will face professionally in your career, I hope you begin to internalize these principles and think about the ways in which your own personal values will intersect with your professional career.
President Hinckley set a great example in a talk he gave at BYU on March 1, 1992 ("This I Believe"), in which he laid out several of his personal beliefs that have shaped his life. You can obtain an MP3 file of the talk on the BYU Speeches site. Please read or listen to this talk.
For this assignment, I want you to articulate between five and ten tenets or principles (articles if you will) of personal/professional ethics that either currently guide you, or which you believe will be important in the near future in your professional life. You may follow the pattern of the Articles of Faith ("I believe ...") or any form that suits you and gets the message across. For each tenet or principle of personal ethics, please include at least one explanatory paragraph.
Unlike all the other writing assignments, this one should NOT be posted to your blog, since it is of a more personal nature. Please email these directly to the instructor by midnight on the last day of class. Please send this to me in the body of the email, rather than as an attachment.