Perspectives in Computing


Instructor: Patrick Bailey, M.S., NH291, x67543

Meeting Time: Tuesday and Thursday 10:30 – 11:45; CFAC 222

Text: Shaping a Digital World, Derek Schuurman


Course Description: This course addresses social, ethical, legal and professional issues that arise in computer science from a Reformed, Christian perspective. Social issues concerning the computerization of society include privacy, security, the digital divide and changes in the way people receive information and relate with others. Ethical discussion starts with a survey of ethical theories and covers professional, ethical and legal issues in areas including intellectual property, privacy, liability and professional codes of conduct. In addition, some foundational issues are covered, including materialist vs. Christian view of what it means to be a person. Prerequisite: last year of a computing-related program. Meets the integrative studies requirement.


Outcomes for the Course: At the completion of the course, the student should be able to:

·         Articulate the Christian implications of creating and using technology.

·         Articulate the purpose and difference between patents, trademarks and copyright laws.

·         Identify and apply appropriate compliance laws in a computing environment.

·         Lead a group discussion to arrive at a consensus on a topic.

·         Articulate critical needs for social change related to computing and develop and explain a public policy recommendation to address those needs.

·         Explain the professional characteristics of a career involving computing.

General Expectations:  

Book Discussion: We will place our focus on the text book at the mid-point of the course (after Spring break).  At the beginning of Spring break, please have an outline of the key points of the book ready to aid you in discussions.  Be prepared to apply the ideas in the textbook to the material we will have already covered and will cover.  The paper you write for the completion of the course should focus in on a portion of the textbook that is a particular point of interest to you.

Discussion participation and leading: Students will be assigned to lead discussion on each paper or video. I may also provide study questions. Students who are not leading will still be expected to attend class and participate in the discussion.  Your “discussion participation” grade is based on the contributions you make to the discussions beyond simple agreement or disagreement.  This evaluation is by the instructed and by your peers in facilitated breakout sessions.

Tests: There will be a test in the first half of the semester covering the ACM code of ethics, intellectual property law, and other topics. In lieu of a final exam there will be presentations of research papers during the scheduled final exam time.

Policy Debate: There are many topics affecting computing professions and society that have no clear answers.  Each student will participate in a policy debate.  Generally, the debates will focus on a need or change for laws, regulations, etc. 

Evaluation Criteria:  A final grade will be based on the points accumulated during the semester.  Up front it is important to understand that cut-offs are absolute.  You should strive to ensure you have more than enough points to obtain a certain grade by the end of the course.  Point-wise, grades are based on the following criteria: A=93%, B=83%, C=70%, D=50%.  Grades of plus or minus to promote a grade are awarded at the discretion of the instructor. 


Assignments and Associated Points:

Area of Evaluation


Discussion Participation (15@10)


Discussion lead (2 @ 25)


Policy Debate


Paper Review (25) and Senior Survey/Tests(25)


Final Paper and Presentation


Mid-Term Exam




Course Schedule:


Lecture Topic


Opening Discussion - Facilitation

ACM Code of Ethics


Professionalism in Computing


Film Startup.com


Intellectual Property, Copyright, Fair Use


Digital Rights Management (DRM) and Compliance


Diversity and Technology


Discussion and Mid Term Review (Mar 14) and MidTerm (Mar 16)


Shaping a Digital World Ch 1,2


Shaping a Digital World Ch 3,4


Shaping a Digital World Ch 5,6


Dynamic Link Paper Review


Misc Topics, Senior Survey/CS Subject Test/IS Program Discussion


Policy Debates


Policy Debates

Exam Week

Final Presentations

Notes: * = Breakout discussion scheduled for the week.

Letter Grades:  Except for the tests, letter grades based on overall quality will be provided.  Due to the limited points available on most assignments, plusses or minuses are not awarded for letter based grades. Generally speaking quality guidelines for letter grades are as follows:

Letter Grade

Available Points




The work is exceptional.  It meets all the criteria for B work and also has the following qualities:

For written assignments:

·          Outside references (when applicable) are solid.

·          It must be delivered on time (No exceptions.  “A” work also means it was well planned.)

·          General quality is within the top 25% of what is provided by the class. (This is subjective I know, but I will encourage those who meet this criteria to share their work.)

For Discussions/Presentations:

·          Brings additional materials to the table beyond the required reading.



The work meets the criteria for C work and also has the following qualities:

For written assignments:

·          There are no proofing errors.

·          Original insight is obvious.  It is not just parroting the thoughts of current readings and references.

·          Its level of general quality is in the top 50% of the class.

For Discussions/Presentations

·          Prompt and on time.

·          Obviously prepared to engage in the discussion.

·          Actively listens to others.



This is considered acceptable work.  A “C” should not be regarded as a poor grade.  For work to be considered acceptable, it must meet the following criteria:

For written assignments:

·          Content-wise, the work addresses all the specific requirements of the assignment.

·          The thoughts expressed in the work are appropriately communicated. (e.g. If it’s a paper, it has basic composition structure; if it’s a diagram, the appropriate notation was used etc)

·          References are cited for any claims made in a body of work that support a conclusion.

For discussions

·          Shows up on time

·          Makes a contribution to the discussion.



Some effort to complete the assignment has been applied, but has the following type of defects:

·          Turned in late without notice

·          Proofing errors are above average

·          Leader’s evaluation reflected considerable improvement needed



Lack of effort is obvious.