We don’t recommend you join after the first week of class. This is a discussion seminar and you’ll have missed at least ten percent of our course meetings.
Having taught this class in whole or in part over Zoom multiple times, which was surprisingly workable but also not the same, your instructors are ecstatic to be in person. At the same time, we acknowledge the world remains challenging.
As you know, the university has mask and vaccination policies that change as the context changes. We will not repeat those requirements and recommendations here, but we will follow them.
Your participation is required because this is a discussion seminar. It does not make sense to record a seminar like this, nor do we plan to support hybrid learning unless the situation changes significantly enough that we have no better option. It is not feasible to support asynchronous participation in a discussion seminar.
The health and safety of you, your classmates, and the instructors is, of course, a primary concern. If you need to miss class and/or hardships arise, let us know. Please do stay home if you are ill. We’ll make it work.
If you do miss class please make an additional discussion response to the post of a classmate.
Consult the UW policies for more information.
We will spend the majority of our time in conversation with one another. The format of the discussions will vary from class meeting to class meeting. We will most commonly engage in small-group discussions of questions introduced by the instructor, but there will be plenty of more creative activities and different formats as well.
The quality of the discussions as a whole will depend on individual students’ contributions and decorum. Hallmarks of such include asking clarifying questions, encouraging each other to speak, delivering summaries, and offering commentaries. Together we will use such strategies to arrive at our desired learning outcomes while being mindful of the multiple and diverse experiences of all class participants. We ask that students participate to the extent of their abilities, respect each other, and review some tips on leading discussions.
In each class, we will:
- come prepared to discuss the day’s readings and assignments,
- discuss, in various group sizes, those readings and assignments,
- occasionally review background material on the day’s themes,
- warm-up to participate in an active-learning environment,
- synthesize those themes (often through group activities),
- and reinforce those themes through reflections (exit tickets).
We also expect our most vocal students to actively create space for others’ contributions by bringing in quieter voices to the discussions.
Given that this is a discussion seminar, attendance is crucial.
This course is structured into units that span two to four days. Each unit has specific outcomes and themes:
- Critical Perspectives (theory)
- Misinformation and Platforms
- Automating Humanity
- The Society of Tech
- Computing and Racial Equity
- Participating in The Society of Tech
In addition to reading and assignments, each day has associated relevant responses. These responses are examples of how others have acted regarding technological systems before. They show how participation comes in many forms—not just through code. Some of these forms include:
- appealing for accountability from organizational leadership,
- exercising discretion in one’s choice of work,
- engaging with technological issues publicly,
- and engaging in direct action.
We encourage students to share their own examples of responses throughout the course.
We expect students to complete each day’s readings and assignments.
While the readings vary in their difficulty and length, we expect students will spend approximately two hours on each day’s readings, with considerable variance. You may find that shorter readings are denser and require more time than some of the longer, yet lighter, readings. If you fall behind, begin with the next set of readings which are due so you can participate in the day’s discussion. Our discussions and assignments are closely tied to the readings, so it is incumbent upon you to make your best effort in completing the readings.
If you are stuck on a reading, do not hesitate to reach our to the instructor. We also encourage you to discuss the readings with your classmates before class, if possible.
Students will submit a discussion post the day before each class through Canvas (except for our first meeting). We choose the due time so that the instructor can read them to prepare for class.
Daily assignments should, in a few paragraphs, demonstrate your attempts to understanding the readings and meet at least one of the following criteria:
- answer the given prompts,
- summarize the works read for the day,
- raise or answer questions (e.g. clarifications of particular portions of the text, relationships between the reading and a current event, or an interrogation into the values and underlying premises on which the reading was based),
- connect the work to previous readings,
- or critique the works.
Please limit your response to at most one page. To receive credit, responses should be on-time and make a good-faith attempt to understand and respond to the readings.
The assignments are structured as discussion posts so that you can read other students’ posts after and only after you write your own. We encourage you to engage with each other often, but you must to do so at least 3 times during the quarter by replying to someone else’s post. You can choose any 3 times (or more), but choosing days where you found the readings particularly inspiring or challenging makes sense.
Conversely, if you find yourself writing a response during the quarter that for some reason you do not wish to share with your classmates, you are welcome to email it to the instructor rather than posting it in Canvas.
During the term, students must also research and write about a technology for the course project.
This course will be graded credit or no credit. To receive credit, students must:
- at least 16 of the daily assignments (note approximately 3 days do not have daily assignments, so you can skip only 2-3);
- reply to someone else’ posts on at least 3 different days;
- participate in all class sessions with at most 4 exceptions (i.e., absences);
- and receive a passing grade on the course project parts.
That said, the point of this course is not a grade. Students should attend because of the readings and discussions—not in spite of them.
We follow the Allen School’s policy for academic integrity and misconduct.
Particular to this course, all writing you submit should be your own. You should not consult writing of other students in this quarter or previous quarters in preparing your submissions.
There is no required textbook for this class. All readings will be available on the course website—the majority of which will be either scans or online articles. While the course website may show the readings and assignments for the entire course, they are subject to change until the week they are due.
Inclusion and Disagreement
We welcome students from all backgrounds and adhere to the Allen School’s Inclusiveness Statement. If anything related to the course makes you feel unwelcome in any way, let the instructor know.
Many of the topics explored in this class are relevant because of their contentious and often unresolved nature. Students should bring an open mind and a desire to examine perspectives possibly different than their own. It is important that everyone be particularly respectful of each other’s positions and to allow for exploration. We do not want or expect you to agree with everything you are assigned to read — your instructor doesn’t agree with it all.
Accommodation and Resources
We are eager to provide necessary accommodations.
Please see the UW resources at http://depts.washington.edu/uwdrs/current-students/accommodations/.
Please see the UW resources at https://registrar.washington.edu/staffandfaculty/religious-accommodations-policy/.