Course Syllabus

Technology & Ethics in Society

Summer 2018 * CI4311W * Section 001  (online)

Begins June 11, 2018; Ends August 3, 2018


Facilitator: Derek Schwartz, M.Ed.

Office Hours: By Appointment, either in person or virtual

Cell phone/Voicemail/Text: 612-206-5475



Course Description & Outcomes


Technology is pervasive in contemporary society, affecting virtually every facet of human existence.  It is commonplace in homes.  It has transformed work and communities, and even impacted the meaning of the word community.  It has made the world smaller through advances in communication and afforded new ways to interact with others – think of email, social media and free real-time video chat.  Despite the fact that it is so central to our lives, we often take technology for granted.  Technology as a broad subject is often thought of only as “computers”, ignoring phones, vehicles, or design methods - and we seldom have an opportunity to reflect upon these influences in our lives.  This course is designed to encourage such reflection by inviting you into a deeper discourse on technology, its impacts, and what relationship ethics has to technology and society. 


Liberal education (LE) is an essential part of your educational experience at the University of Minnesota. LE courses help you investigate the world from new perspectives, learn ways of thinking that will be useful to you in many areas of your life, and grow as an active citizen and lifelong learner.  This course fulfills the LE Civic Life and Ethics Theme requirement and is premised upon the assumption that good citizenship calls for a critical understanding of technology as it impacts us in our day-to-day world.  The course’s design explores, analyzes, and critically examines the uses of technology in education, global society, and the lives of individuals.  Many advancing technologies, such as the Internet, present tremendous value to improve peoples’ lives across the globe.  It is shortsighted to ignore potential threats that unethical use or misuse of technology bring in terms of cultural impacts, equity of distribution/access to knowledge, and on the rights of individuals (e.g. privacy and the potential for abuse of personal data).  The course’s design enables a learning experience that values and challenges each individual’s prior knowledge, while encouraging critical reflection upon the relationships that learners see and discover between technological innovations, the lives of individuals, and implications for our global society.


To facilitate your understanding of relevant readings and concepts, meaningful connections to your real life are enabled through the use of actual news stories and case studies drawn from various media.  Course activities provide intentionally designed opportunities for critical inquiry through multiple viewpoints and independent thinking while encouraging authentic learning and self-expression in a mutually respectful climate.  You should consider yourself enabled to apply your growing knowledge through multimedia presentations, essays, and interactive group discussions.  Demonstration of mutual respect inside and outside the class involves students communicating your viewpoints in a democratic, respectful manner as well as doing original work with proper attribution of the references cited.


You will be guided towards, and supported in, the development of your own informed opinions and positions on contemporary issues that:

  • Ground the ethical use and development of technology within historical contexts;
  • Examine the proposition of looking at technology through ethical lenses;
  • Examine ontological impacts of technology on human existence;
  • Examine ideas surrounding digital citizenship;
  • Examine ethical issues raised in specific cases of technology use gone awry;
  • Debate the prospect of limits on technology; and
  • Discuss considerations surrounding technological innovation in a global society.


Course Web Site


You will be responsible for becoming familiar with our course's Canvas website, as this will be our only means of interacting and communicating throughout the course. 

You may have used Moodle, Ning or other online course management sites before; it's been my experience that Canvas enables ongoing conversations and social interactions better than other platforms, while also providing an easy way to access grades, use a Calendar, and enable group discussions. A win-win, if you will.


Course Structure




There is no required textbook that you must purchase for this course.




There are numerous readings that will be required.  All of the readings will be provided and available for you via our course website; although a limited number of readings will be available at any one time.  The readings noted below in the syllabus should all be considered as subject to change; with the rapid pace of change inherent to the Internet, it may work best to use brand new material unavailable at the time of this writing.


Class Sessions


This course is scheduled to meet online only.  There will be no required, in person face-to-face sessions.  Please be aware that there will be numerous assignments in order to complete the requirements for this writing-intensive course. Our learning together in this online community will be fun and highly interactive, but it does require that you are very self-motivated in order to stay on top of assignments and coursework. First, you will respond to questions and interact with your classmates based on new readings that will be assigned each class (there will be 14 “class sessions”) using various online tools that will be explained to you.  Additionally, you will have writing assignments, which you can continue to work on until each one is complete and submitted.  I will have target due dates for each of these writing assignments to help keep you on task.


Student Internet Access


This course will require that you have ready and reliable access to the Internet for all communications and course work.  All registered University of Minnesota students are currently provided an e-mail address and you should either use it consistently or have it forwarded to the email address you regularly use.  We will be communicating throughout the course both via the course website and email.




You will need to become very well versed with several technology applications for this course.  We will be using Canvas for our course website.  I am confident you will find it very user-friendly and easy to navigate.  You will also need to be able to understand and implement media-oriented software (i.e.,Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft PowerPoint, and/or Google Docs).  Additionally, you will need to become familiar with FlipGrid.  Our reflection discussions are made richer if you use video or other media, so please ensure you have consistent access to a webcam, microphone (preferably, an external microphone) and are comfortable with their use. 


Class Participation


Active engagement in interactions with your peers is essential for meaningful learning to occur in the online environment.  I will be encouraging such interactions through various discussion assignments based on the readings.  You will be required to respond to questions that I pose, but you are also required to respond to your classmates or comment on their responses in a meaningful way in order to receive full credit.

Assignments and Grades

CI 4311W Assignments                                                                                              Points

Class Discussions/Reactions to Course Readings                                                     335 (subject to change)

Initial project – topic of your choice                                                                            120

Continuing project – topic of your choice                                                                   120

Literature Review                                                                                                       100


                                                                                                                                    675  TOTAL

 Class Assignment Overview




Class Discussions/Reactions to Course Readings:  Your consistent, active, engaged participation in this class is of utmost importance.  Active class participation and contribution is necessary for full credit.  To be of the useful and valuable for you, informed opinions are requisite.  It will be important for us to allow each member of the class to express views, even when such views are not in accord with our own.  You are cautioned to use good taste and judgment with respect to what is stated or presented in class.  It is very important that you participate in each discussion AFTER completing your readings with an open mind for discussing and debating the many issues within.  If you keep up with the readings and engage fully in the discussions, you will have the best experience!


During class discussion, reflective, thoughtful debates of groups with alternative perspectives will be encouraged as a dynamic interchange of ideas and viewpoints occurs in a communicative, democratic environment.  Thoughtful, democratic, respectful debate will be a common occurrence throughout the course.


Please consider that all of the session-based assignments be due by 11:59PM on the stated due dates, and that responses to your classmates are due a short time later.  You are, of course, encouraged to complete work early, but experience suggests that giving yourself a couple of days between crafting an original response and then responding to others enables the most fruitful experience for you, as a learner. 


Student Projects

Based on former student input and critically considering how best to facilitate deeper discussions of the readings and materials, the writing projects for this course are being significantly overhauled from times previous.  In the new model, you’ll be picking a topic at the beginning of the course that you’re passionate about, and you’ll be encouraged (but not strictly required) to pursue that topic in different contexts as we move through the course together.   There is a discussion forum set up in our site and you’re encouraged to look through others' posts if you need some ideas – or feel free to come up with something on your own.


Additionally, there is a peer review aspect to the course.  This is to facilitate deeper discussions between you and another student, and provide an opportunity to practice another variation of ethical behavior in an online environment.  A really nice video about being a Peer Reviewer can be found here, and I’d recommend watching it even if you’ve been a peer reviewer before.  You will be assigned a peer reviewer (or reviewers if necessary to ensure no one is left out) from our course roster.


Submissions for a paper-style project should include the document (as outlined below).  If, on the other hand, you create a multimedia project with large files (>15MB) or that is fully online (i.e., a multimedia blog) please include the links to the main part of the project, with any and all supporting materials to be submitted directly in Canvas.


Initial Exploration of a Topic of Your Choice: You will create a project on a technology topic that interests you and holds several ethical implications as it affects society today, and frame your initial exploration based on readings and discussions from the first five class meetings.  You are welcome to draw upon your own personal experiences or information available on the Internet for background information, but please note you’ll need to reference at least two course readings in addition to outside sources. While it is not required, I hope you’ll consider this an opportunity to get out of your “comfort zone” and challenge yourself! 

    1. Length between 4-5 pages long and written in APA format, double-spaced, 12-point font, with standard 1-inch margins
    1. Submissions are requested as Word document (.doc or .docx) or PDF file types – and please ensure the file is saved as [yourlastname][firstinitial]_Project1_[course number]_[section number].  For example, if I were submitting a paper for this project and course, it would be labelled as SchwartzD_Project1_CI4311_002.
    2. Inclusion of a reference/works cited page—but these do not count in your 4-5 pages.  In-text citations and a formal reference list in APA format are an important part of your paper and an ethical requirement.
    3. Graphics are encouraged to better convey your understanding.
    4. As part of this first project you will be required to draw at least two references from our first five course readings/discussions in meaningful ways.

Initial Exploration Project due dates:

  • Initial Draft due by June 28th @11:59PM,
  • Peer reviews for your draft due by July 1st @ 11:59PM
  • Final project due by July 8th @ 11:59PM



Continuing Project on a Topic of Your Choice: This second project is designed to provide you an opportunity to continue engaging with your topic, although in a fresh context of readings and discussions from between classes 6 through 12. While you are not strictly required to stick to the same topic as the initial project, it is highly encouraged.  You are again encouraged to include graphics as necessary to better convey your thoughts.  All of the prior requirements remain, including peer review as in the initial project, but with a few changes (in bold, below):

  1. You can elect to author an essay with the following requirements:
    1. Length between 4-5 pages long and written in APA format, double-spaced, 12-point font, with standard 1-inch margins. 
    2. Submissions are requested as Word document (.doc or .docx) or PDF file types – and please ensure the file is saved as [yourlastname][firstinitial]_Project2_[course number]_[section number].  For example, if I were submitting a paper, it would be SchwartzD_Project2_CI4311_002. 
    3. Inclusion of a reference/works cited page—but these do not count in your 4-5 pages.  In-text citations and a formal reference list in APA format are an important part of your paper and an ethical requirement.
    4. Graphics are encouraged to better convey your understanding.  

Regardless of format, you will be required to:

  1. Show how the peer review process was engaged, and how it informed the submitted project
  2. Be sure to draw at least two references total from our course readings/discussions in sessions 6 through 11, and still do so in meaningful ways.  Note that this excludes the readings and discussions from the first 5 weeks.

 Continuing Project due dates:

  • Initial Draft due by July19th @11:59PM,
  • Peer reviews for your draft due by July 22nd @ 11:59PM
  • Final project due by July 26th @ 11:59PM


Literature Review:  Students in the CI 4311W course are required to write a summative literature review that draws in at least two course readings plus three additional outside readings that encompass one of the major issues we discuss in class regarding the ethical basis of concerns associated with the rapidly expanding roles technology continues to play in our lives.  Additional articles can be accessed on our course site under the “Further Readings” forum, or you can do a relevant literature search on your own.  This analysis and critique should encompass a substantive literature review conveying critical reflection on the issue(s) presented.  I am willing to consider a deeper, more thorough examination of a topic covered in either the pop culture review or the research report.

Potential issues include: pervasiveness of technology, technological dependence, privacy, autonomy, security of data, democracy online, freedom of expression online, technological euphoria, digital citizenship, technology integration in education, cultural relativity, communicative freedom, digital plagiarism, intellectual property rights, globalization, etc.  Your paper should be 5-6 pages long (no longer) and written in APA format, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, with standard 1-inch margins).  Please include a title and reference/works cited page—but these do not count in your 5-6 pages.  In-text citations and a formal reference list in APA format are an important part of your papers. Alternate projects (i.e., videos) are not a possible medium here.  However, embedded graphics used to clarify an issue, or to reduce complexity in difficult-to-understand topics, are acceptable and encouraged.

Due date: Friday, August 3 by 11:59PM


 Relevant University Policies


Grading System


Definition of Grades

A - achievement that is outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements.  YOU ARE CAPABLE OF THIS LEVEL OF WORK.  Period. 

B - achievement that is significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements.

C - achievement that meets the course requirements in every respect.

D - achievement that is worthy of credit even though it fails to meet fully the course requirements.

S - achievement that is satisfactory, which is equivalent to a C- or better (achievement required for an S is at the discretion of the instructor but may be no lower than equivalent to a C-.) ----

F(or N) - Represents failure (or no credit) and signifies that the work was either (1) completed but at a level of achievement that is not worthy of credit or (2) was not completed and there was no agreement between the instructor and the student that the student would be awarded an I (see also I).


The grading for this course is as follows:

A          95 – 100%                   C+        77 – 79%                     D+        67 – 69%                     F          Below 60%

A-         90 – 94%                     C          74 – 76%                     D          64 – 66%

B+        87 – 89%                     C-         70 – 73%                     D-         60 – 63%

B          84 – 86%

B-         80 – 83%


It is worth noting here that the structure of this course is more about your learning than it is about a grade.  You are each capable of “A” work, and it is my assumption everyone starts with an “A”.  It is ultimately up to you to prove me wrong. 


You will be provided feedback to help guide you to more resources, areas where you can improve, and aspects you are doing well in.  This feedback will typically be in the form of text- or audio-formats. 


Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty in any portion of the academic work for a course shall be grounds for awarding a grade of F or N for the entire course.


Incomplete Grades:

The grade of "I" is not a regular University grade and cannot be given without special arrangements under unusual circumstances.  It cannot be given merely to extend the time allowed to complete course requirements.  If family or personal emergency requires that your attention be diverted from the course and that more time than usual is needed to complete course work, arrangements should be made with the instructor of the course before the quarter ends and consent obtained for receiving an "Incomplete" or "I" grade.  These arrangements should be made as soon as the need for an "I" can be anticipated.  A written agreement should be prepared indicating when the course assignment will be completed.  Normally an "Incomplete" grade for a course should be removed within one quarter of its receipt.


Receipt of Final Grade:

University policies do not permit the posting of final course grades nor the reporting of these grades over the telephone.  If you would like a record of your course grade before it is available via the University web site, provide a self-addressed stamped envelope to the instructor at some point prior to the last class session.


Feedback on projects:

During the course, feedback will be returned to students as soon as possible via our course website or email.  I reserve the right to return your project with an expectation of your re-doing it to better reflect your best work. 


Late submission policy:

Given the amount of time we have for the course and how fast we have to go, it is critical that you stay on top of readings and responses. Therefore, class discussions and responses will be docked 2 points per day if submitting late, although a few minutes won't matter too much.  The larger writing projects and peer reviews will be docked 10 points each day they're late. 


Performance Task Descriptions & Tentative Schedule:

Class details will be posted on our website as the course progresses.  The following schedule is a general overview, but please note that individual readings, or the order of the selected readings, may change as new information becomes available or our class goes in different direction.


Class #1 – June 11 to June 14   For Full Details – see “Class 1” on course website


Syllabus review

Familiarizing ourselves with one another and the technologies:

  • Canvas  (online social learning environment = our course Website)
  • FlipGrid (a video “wall” site)



  • Get to know the Canvas site
  • Now is also the time to get any initial questions you have answered!  Post any questions to have about the syllabus, the website, or the course in general to the “Questions” forum.
  • Introduce yourself via Flipgrid
  • Session Discussion: Ethics Snapshot
  • Syllabus quiz



Class #2 – June 15 to June 17  Full Class Details –Class #2

Ethical implications of technology’s pervasive role in society

  • How are we influenced by technology?
  • How does ethics relate to technology?
  • Opening the dialogue of ethics as a “slippery slope”



  • Excerpt: “Introduction” by Kaplan from “Readings in the Philosophy of Technology” (2004)



  • Search for examples of technology being used in productive, meaningful, or just plain cool ways today.
  • Conversely, now search for relevant and current examples of what you might consider misuse or overuse of technology today. 
  • Drawing from the reading and your own thinking, create your definition of technology, and give us an example of something that both fits your definition and you find exciting.  Post your response via Flipgrid:


Class #3 – June 18 to June 21            Full Class Details – Class #3

Basic theoretical foundations of technology ethics



  • “Ethical principles, reasoning, and decision making” (Budinger & Budinger, 2006)



  • Put together a few ideas for your “Initial Exploration Project”.  These should interest you with regard to ethical dilemmas posed by technology (human stem cell research, for example).  We will be creating a collective list as a class to help steer our direction of study this semester according to YOUR interests!
  • Session Discussion:
    • Which of the cases or models in the Budinger reading best applies to your thinking about ethics, and why?


Class #4 – June 22 to June 24           Full Class Details – Class #4

Information Ethics



  • “Norbert Wiener & the rise of information ethics” (Bynum, 2008)



  • Session Discussion


Class #5 – June 25 to June 28      Full Class Details – Class #5

Digital Citizenship



  • “Developing ethical direction” (Ribble & Bailey, 2005)
  • “Digital citizenship: Text unto others as you would have them text unto you” (Villano, 2008)



  • Session Discussion
  • Begin your draft of the Initial Exploration project (initial draft due Sunday at 11:59PM)


Class #6 – June 29 to July 1      Full Class Details – Class #6

Ethics of online technologies

  • Basics
  • Plagiarism
  • Copyright/Intellectual Property Rights



  • “Cyber ethics: The new frontier” (Baum, 2005)
  • “Ethics and information technology: Some principles to guide students” (Bodi, 1998)
  • “Lost in cyberspace: Ethical decision making in the online environment” (McMahon & Cohen, 2009)
  • “Patently absurd: The ethical implications of software patents” (Stark, 2005)


Assignments due:

  • Session discussion
  • Peer reviews as assigned in Canvas


Class #7 – July 2 to July 8 (Due to Independence Day holiday)   Full Class Details – Class #7

The Difference between “Data” and “Actionable Information”



  • “Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom” (Bellinger, Castro and Mills, 2004)


  • Session discussion
  • Final draft of Initial Exploration Project


Class #8 – July 9 to July 12    Full Class Details – Class #8

Democracy and the Internet

  • Development of Internet communities



  • “Democracy and the Internet” (Sunstein, 2008)
  • “Technological euphoria and contemporary citizenship” (Winner, 2005)



  • Session Discussion


Class #9 – July 13 to July 15       Full Class Details – Class #9

Ethics & Power

  • Ethics & Communicative Freedom



  • Article: “Access denied: Internet filtering software in K-12 classrooms” (Meeder, 2005)
  • Article: “Ethics: A discourse of power” (Muffoletto, 2003)



  • Session Discussion


Class #10 – July 16 to July 19     Full Class Details – Class #10

 The Great Media Debate

  • Technology Integration in Education: Ethical Implications



  • “Sharing the sacred fire: Integrating educational technology without annihilating nature” (Burniske, 2005)
  • “Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate” (Kozma, 1994)
  • “Technology and classroom practices: An international study” (Kozma, 2003b)



  • Session Discussion
  • Draft of Continuing Exploration for peer reviews due


Class #11  – July 20 to July 22  Full Class Details – Class #11

 Cultural Relativity of Ethics & Technology



  • “Is information ethics culture-relative?”  (Brey, 2007)
  • “Culture and global networks: Hope for a global ethics?” (Ess, 2008) or
  • “Becoming Interculturally Competent” (Bennet, 2004)



  • Session Discussion
  • Peer reviews completed for Continuing Exploration projects



Class #12 – July 23 to July 26     Full Class Details – Class #12

Digital Equity

  • Technology to support educational reform and economic/social development






  • Session Discussion
  • Final draft of Continuing Exploration Project due


Class #13 – July 27 to July 29        Full Class Details – Class #13

 Ethics of Biotechnologies

  • Technology-Mediated Human Enhancement
  • Genetic Manipulations
  • Human Cloning
  • Stem Cells



  • Research one article that you find on the universal debate relating to the ethics of biotechnology (such as technology-mediated human enhancement, genetic manipulations, human cloning, harvest and use of stem cells, etc.).  Share with us what you find.



  • Session Discussion


Class #14:- July 30 to August 2

Biotech responses

Readings TBD


  • Respond to what classmates posted in the previous class session


Class #15 – Ending August 3      Full Class Details – Class #15

 Conclusions, reflections

Course evaluations



  • Final reflection on learning and growth
  • Literature Review paper due









Baum, J.J. (2005). Cyber ethics: The new frontier. Tech Trends, 49(6), 54-55,78.


Bellinger, G., Castro, D., Mills, A. (2004). Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom.  Retrieved from


Bodi, S. (1998).  Ethics and information technology: Some principles to guide students. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 24(6), 459-463. 


Brey, P. (2007). Is information ethics culture-relative? International Jour of Tech and Human Interaction, 3(3), 12-24.


Budinger, T.F., & Budinger, M.D. (2006). Ethics of emerging technologies: Scientific facts and moral challenges. Hoboken,

NJ: Wiley & Sons.


Burniske, R.W. (2003). Links in the chain of doing: The ethics of introducing educational technology in developing

countries. Tech Trends, 47(6), 55-61.


Burniske, R.W. (2005). Sharing the sacred fire: Integrating educational technology without annihilating nature. Tech Trends, 49(6), 50-52.


Bynum, T.W. (2008). Norbert Wiener & the rise of information ethics. In J. Van den Hoven, & J. Weckert, (Eds.), Information technology and moral philosophy (8-25).Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.


Cocking, D. (2008). Plural selves and relational identity: Intimacy and privacy online. In J. Van den Hoven, & J. Weckert, (Eds.), Information technology and moral philosophy (123-141).Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

DeVries, M. J. (2016).  Teaching about Technology - Contemporary Issues in Technology. (pp. 11-22) Springer International Publishing, Switzerland.

Ess, C. (2008). Culture and global networks: Hope for a global ethics? In J. Van den Hoven, & J. Weckert, (Eds.), Information technology and moral philosophy (195-225).Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.


Kaplan, D.M. (2004). Introduction. In D.M. Kaplan (Ed.), Readings in the philosophy of technology (xiii-xv). Lanham, MD:  Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.


Kozma, R. (1994).  Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7-19. 


Kozma, R. (2003a). Global perspectives: Innovative technology integration practices from around the world. Learning and Leading with Technology, 31(2), 6-54.


Kozma, R. (2003b). Technology and classroom practices: An international study. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 36(1), 1-14.


Kozma, R. & Wagner, D.A. (2006). Reaching the most disadvantaged with ICT: What works?  In R. Sweet & D. Wagner (Eds.), ICT in non-formal and adult education: Supporting out-of-school youth and adults (pp. 97-120).Paris: OECD.


McMahon, J. M., & Cohen, R. (2009). Lost in cyberspace: Ethical decision making in the online environment. Ethics and Information Technology, 11, 1-17.


Meeder, R. (2005). Access denied: Internet filtering software in K-12 classrooms. Tech Trends, 49(6), 56-58,78.


Michelfelder, D.P. (2004). Technological ethics in a different voice. In D.M. Kaplan (Ed.), Readings in the philosophy of technology (273-288). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.


Muffoletto, R. (2003). Ethics: A discourse of power. Tech Trends, 47(6), 62-66.


Ribble, MS., & Bailey, G.D. (2005). Developing ethical direction. Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(7), 36-39.


Stark, C.D. (2005). Patently absurd: The ethical implications of software patents. Tech Trends, 49(6), 58-61,78.


Sunstein, C.R. (2008). Democracy and the internet. In J. Van den Hoven, & J. Weckert, (Eds.), Information technology and moral philosophy (93-110).Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.


Villano, M. (2008). Digital citizenship: Text unto others as you would have them text unto you. T.H.E. Journal, 35(9),      47-51.


Course Summary:

Date Details Due