Remote learning

Remote learning is obviously not what any of us originally planned for when attending, or teaching at, UW. Nonetheless, we are going to make it work, and we want your help to make our course an interactive, meaningful experience where you get to know your fellow students. Please come to virtual class with the same energy and attention you would come to a conventional discussion. It worked in prior offerings of this class the last two quarters and it will work again.

In this difficult times, you may face additional challenges, which could include managing the technology to participate remotely, financial challenges from lost income, emotional challenges from social isolation, or the health of you or people close to you. We are all in this together: this is a time for maximal flexibility and speaking up if challenges arise.

We need you to participate in class — at the scheduled time and with video and audio — for this discussion seminar to succeed. This is not a course where asynchronous participaton makes sense. But if hardships arise, given the state of the world right now, take care of your health and safety! Let the instructor know, so we can figure out a plan together. If you or someone close to you is in need of help, consider using the resources that the university makes available to you.


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 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,
  • occasionally review background material on the day’s themes,
  • warm-up to participate in an active-learning environment,
  • discuss, in various group sizes, those readings and assignments,
  • 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. We do not plan to record class discussions.

This course is structured into units that span two to four days. Each unit has specific outcomes and themes:

  1. Groundwork
  2. Data
  3. Critical Perspectives (theory)
  4. Facial Recognition (we may replace this one; tbd)
  5. Computing and Racial Equity
  6. Misinformation and Platforms
  7. The Society of Tech
  8. Participating in The Society of Tech

Relevant responses

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
  • 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.

Daily assignments

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
  • 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 do this often, but you need 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.

Longer assignments

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:

  • submit 17 of the 19 of the daily assignments
  • reply to someone else’ posts for at least 3 different days
  • attend, and participate in, 16 of the 20 classes
  • 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.

Academic Integrity

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.

Disability Accommodations

Please see the UW resources at

Religious Accommodations

Please see the UW resources at