CS 349 Contemporary Issues in Computer Science
Alan Cline

Elaine Rich
Fall, 2015



Class Information:








T, Th 2:00-3:15

GDC 4.302



T, Th 3:30- 4:45    

GDC 4.302

The two sections will both be team taught by Elaine Rich and Alan Cline.


Quinn, Michael, Ethics for the Information Age, 6th Edition.  (But the 5th edition would also be okay.)







Office Hours



Alan Cline



GDC 5.808

T, W 11:00 - noon 

F 1:00 – 2:00



Elaine Rich



GDC 5.810

T, W 11:00 – noon



Chad Voegele



By appointment



Kevin Song



By appointment



Bri Hiramine,




M 3:30 – 6:30

W 3:30 – 8:00



Katie Bland




M 12:00 – 3:00

W 12:00 – 4:30


(See below for how to schedule an appointment with Bri or Katie.)


This course carries both the Writing and the Ethics and Leadership flags.  See more on each of them below.


We will use the i>clicker interactive response system in class.  (Click here to find out more about it.)  If you don’t already have an i>clicker, you need to get one.  You can get it from the Coop or the i>clicker site.  The i>clicker2 will give you more features, but the i>clicker1 will also work.  There’s now a new thing, i>clicker+.  We do not know whether it is compatible with the base station that we’ve got, so you should probably play it safe and get the i>clicker2.  We won’t be using the phone apps.

Your i>clicker responses will form the bulk of your class participation grade.  Thus it is a serious violation of our academic integrity policy to let anyone else use your i>clicker.

Other Electronic Devices

It’s important that everyone participate in class.  To that end: other than the i>clickers, there should be no electronic devices out during class.  There are two exceptions to this policy: 1) If you need a laptop to take notes, please speak to us about it.  2) If we’re discussing an issue and we need more information, it’s fine to search the web and share what you find with all of us.


We all wish that we could have courses without grades. You hate worrying about grades.  We hate having to assign grades. But grades are essential to insuring that your degree has the value it deserves. So we have to have a grading system and that system has to have three essential properties:

In this class, grades will be assigned as follows:



Homeworks and note cards


News articles


Class participation



Everyone will choose a topic for a term project.  The project will have two parts:


Short homeworks will be assigned most weeks.  You can see what they are and when they are due by going to the Class Schedule page.  They will also be entered into the Canvas schedule for the class.  But note: If there is any disparity between Canvas and either the Class Schedule page or our normal policy (with regard to when things are due or how they are to be submitted), it is likely that the mistake is on Canvas.  Ask on Piazza and we will clarify.

Click here for a discussion of what we’ll be looking for as we grade your homeworks.

Homeworks are due at 2:00 pm on the due date (regardless of which class you’re registered for). They are to be submitted electronically using Canvas.  You must submit pdf documents.  We won’t be able to read/grade documents in any other format.  Late homeworks will not be accepted.  Do not push us on this.  We really mean 2:00.


It is important that you come to class having done the assigned reading.  To help assure that everyone has done so, you will often be asked to submit logical “notecards”.  We used to ask people to bring in actual cards.  At this point, however, just think “notecard” to suggest how much you need to write.

Specifically, what we are looking for is the equivalent of one 4 x 6 card on which you have written a short description of an idea that you found interesting as you were doing the reading.  Once you’ve chosen an idea, do a bit more research on it.  Write up your research.  Then:

·       Submit your writeup on Canvas. It will be graded just as other homeworks are.

·       Also, print it and bring it to class. Come to class prepared to present what you have learned.  We will flip through the submissions at the beginning of class and choose a few.  Thus:  Notecards are due at the beginning of class.  Not ten minutes later when you stroll in.

Please note that notecards, like everything else that you submit in this class, must be your own work unless you make it clear that you are quoting and you indicate your source(s).  If you want to refer to a website, that’s great.  After you’ve written your own description of the idea you have chosen, you can summarize the content of an interesting website and include the url. 

You must be in class to submit a notecard.  It is a violation of our academic integrity policy to submit one if you are not in class, prepared to discuss it.  Your electronic submission will not be counted unless you also bring a copy to class.

News Articles

As you’re reading the news, be on the lookout for articles that touch on the issues that we are covering in class.  Every Thursday, unless instructed otherwise in class, you should come to class with a printout of an article that you found interesting.  You should be prepared to present your article to the class. 

You must be in class to submit an article.  It is a violation of our academic integrity policy to submit one if you are not in class, prepared to discuss it. 

Summary of How to Submit Your Work


Piazza is a free online gathering place where students can ask, answer, and explore 24/7.  Read more at www.piazza.com.   We will use Piazza for important class announcements.  In addition, you can use it to post questions and get answers both from other students and from the instructors.  Once registration has settled down, we will enroll everyone in the class Piazza forum.


We will use Canvas as a way both to submit homeworks and to record grades.  You can access it at http://canvas.utexas.edu/.

Writing Flag

This course may be used to fulfill three hours of the communication component of the university core curriculum and addresses the following four core objectives established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board: communication skills, critical thinking skills, teamwork, and personal responsibility.  

Writing Flag courses are designed to give students experience with writing in an academic discipline. In this class, you can expect to write regularly during the semester, complete substantial writing projects, and receive feedback from us to help you improve your writing. You will also have the opportunity to revise one or more assignments, and you may be asked to read and discuss your peers’ work. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from your written work. Writing Flag classes meet the Core Communications objectives of Critical Thinking, Communication, Teamwork, and Personal Responsibility, established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Course Writing Consultants and the Writing Center

We strongly encourage you to take advantage of the services of the University Writing Center, located in the PCL Learning Commons. They offer free, individualized, expert help with writing for any UT undergraduate.  Their services are not just for writing that has "problems." Getting feedback from an informed audience is a normal part of a successful writing project.  Consultants help students develop strategies to improve their writing. The assistance they provide is intended to foster independence.  Each student determines how to use the consultant's advice. The consultants are trained to help you work on your writing in ways that preserve the integrity of your work.


This semester they have assigned a specially trained Course Specialist Consultant (CSC) to each section of this class.  Bri for the 2:00 class and Katie for the 3:30 class.  Your CSC is a special kind of UWC consultant who is dedicated to helping you and your classmates with writing in this particular course. Your CSC will attend this class with you and meet regularly with me to discuss our writing assignments. And as the semester goes on, they will become familiar with the course's content (though they are not and will not become content experts), your writing projects, and my expectations for writing.  As students in this course, you and your peers have priority over other UT undergraduates when scheduling consultations with your CSC in the UWC. 


To schedule a consultation with your CSC: Register for a UWC account at uwc.utexas.edu/appointments, then call or stop by the UWC Front Desk (512-471-6222) or email your CSC directly so they can schedule on your behalf.


If you schedule through the front desk, indicate that you're seeking a consultation with your CSC and provide their first and last name. Otherwise, the Front Desk staffer will schedule you with another UWC consultant. All our consultants are intensively trained to provide support on any project, but they will not have your CSC's course-specific understanding of your writing assignments and instructor expectations. 


If you schedule by emailing your CSC, please remember that they are a busy undergraduate like you: please email them at least 24 hours in advance of your desired consultation time, allow at least 12 hours for a response, and provide at least three different hour-blocks of time when you'll be available during their shift, the times/days for which they should share with you verbally and on paper at the beginning of the semester. 


Please schedule consultations with your CSC only in regard to writing assignments for this class. Otherwise, you might take CSC consultation time away from your classmates. For help with writing projects outside this class, I strongly encourage you to schedule consultations with other UWC consultants, which you can do online at uwc.utexas.edu/appointments.


Important notes on scheduling:  Your CSC will be available to you and all your fellow students for about 6-7 consultations every week. Accordingly, they may "book up" very quickly, especially in the weeks before major deadlines. I strongly encourage you to schedule consultations with them well in advance, and to keep a record of upcoming appointments on your personal calendar. If you miss two consultations with your CSC, you will still be able to meet with them, but only on a "walk-in" basis. Finally, if your schedules don't match up, then you may be unavailable to see your CSC during their pre-scheduled UWC shifts. I hope this will not be the case, but if it is, I strongly encourage you to seek out other UWC consultants when you're available. You can meet with your CSC once per day per assignment and twice per day total. And if class demand for consultations with your CSC gets especially high, they will limit individuals to a certain number of consultations per week. 

Ethics and Leadership Flag

This course carries the Ethics and Leadership flag. Ethics and Leadership courses are designed to equip you with skills that are necessary for making ethical decisions in your adult and professional life. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments involving ethical issues and the process of applying ethical reasoning to real-life situations.

Students with Disabilities

Any student with a documented disability (physical or cognitive) who requires academic accommodations should contact the Services for Students with Disabilities area of the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259 (voice) or 471-4641 (TTY for users who are deaf or hard of hearing) as soon as possible to request an official letter outlining authorized accommodations.

Academic Integrity and the UT Student Honor Code

UT’s Student Honor Code states:  "As a student of The University of Texas at Austin, I shall abide by the core values of the University and uphold academic integrity."  You can watch an excellent video about the honor code here.

You should read carefully the class policy on academic integrity.  Cheating of any form will not be tolerated and will result in a failing grade in the class.  If you are unsure about when or how you need to cite your sources, ask us.

Additional Class Policies

You should read CS Department Code of Conduct. The policies described there will be followed in this class.