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Teaching Tools for the Computing Curriculum

Ethical and social issues in computing is an area of great importance to the field of computer science. In 1991 a task force combining members of the Association for Computing (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created Computing Curriculum 1991 (CC91)[1], a framework for a new computer science curriculum. This recommended curriculum contained several knowledge units pertaining to social and ethical issues in computing.

In order to help flesh out these knowledge units in CC91, the the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Impact Computer Science (ImpactCS) in 1994[19]. The project brought together 25 experts to define the core content and tools for integrating social and ethical topics across the computer science curriculum according to the guidelines outlined by CC91.

Cases as Teaching Tools

This website provides a set of extensive historical cases accompanied by teaching tools that will help computer science instructors implement the new curriculum and core content laid out by CC91 and ImpactCS. The draft version of the successor to CC91, Computing Curriculum 2001, is also keyed to these cases.

The historical cases allow the careful reader to see the complexity of the intermingled social situations, individual and management decisions, organizational policies, cultural assumptions, and technical constraints as they were experienced by the original participants. These cases may be used in a class dedicated to social and ethical issues in computing or in any class whose interest includes how a computing system is actually used.

Social Impact Analysis as a Teaching Tool

The Social Impact Analysis (SIA) resource kit included in the teaching tools is a guide to instructors and students who wish to investigate the social and ethical issues surrounding the implementation of a computing system in an organization. The SIA kit includes methods for planning the investigation, tools and procedures for collecting data, suggestions for making the data useful for designers and decision-makers, and samples of social impact analyses done by students.

The SIA resource kit is primarily designed to be implemented as a large, semester long group project. Individual methods from the resource kit may be introduced in classes without a project in order to facilitate students' understanding of the issues associated with the use of computing systems in the real world.