Spring 2009 - UNST 181B, Cyber Millenium, Syllabus

  Instructor Mentor
name: Tim Sheard Bridger Wineman
office: FAB 120-04 ?
email: bwineman@pdx.edu
location: main lecture
Cramer Hall 201
mentor sessions
Cramer Hall 194

Please note that the syllabus will be adjusted during the quarter. I reserve the right to change it at any time for any reason. You will see on the Daily Record on the class homepage when a change has been made and are expected to check the class Daily Record before every class: http://web.cecs.pdx.edu/~sheard/course/CyberMil/DailyRecord.html

Course Description

This year-long course is organized and designed to facilitate an analysis of the ways in which the ever-increasing influence of technology is transforming human experience. We will do this by studying computers and their interaction with humans. We will first study the notion of computation (the process by which machines manipulate information) and the interface between man and machines. We will study what it means to be intelligent. Can machines be inteliigent? Can machines learn? Can they acquire new abilities by observing other's behavior? Can machines be human-like?

In popular culture, the image of the cyborg lies at the heart of this interface between man and machine. We will study how popular culture has portrayed the cyborg, and compare this with our prior study of the nature of intelligence.

We will then turn our focus to the effects the digital world has on the modern civilization. How it affects the media, the financial system, communications, transportation, the educational system, the world of art and design, the hard sciences, and our every day lives.

Once we understand the ubiquity of these effects, we will investigate can (or should) we try and influence them? What ethical limits should society try and place on them? We will identify current ethical issues such as privacy, digital rights management, and the advisability of electronic-voting. We will study the legal and societal means we may use to influence these effects.

In the winter we will study the ways in which the emerging technologies of genetic engineering, cloning, and other new scientific technologies are transforming our concepts of humanity, society, freedom, privacy and cultural identity. We will be examining the changes that are taking place in social relations, legal doctrines, and political beliefs. We will consider the dangers, opportunities and ethical ambiguities inherent in these new technologies. In the spring we will examine the relationship between human communities and technologies addressing issues such as the digital divide, technological haves and have nots, and international issues surrounding ddigital technologies.

In the Spring we will discover the beauty, trials, and tribulations of how we can prograsm a computer ourselves in a 4 week project where will learn to write simple programs in the Haskell programming language. We will also investigate how the rapid changes in technology may change the world we live in. One excellent resource we will use in this investigation is the book The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil.

Through reading fiction, viewing films and television programs, reading case studies, and doing field research we will explore the many complex faces of technology.

Drawing on writing, speaking, artwork, books, media and original projects you will have a wide range of outlets through which to experience and articulate your own questions and ideas, as well as those of others, as we examine the changing role of technology in our lives.

Texts for Spring

Available in the PSU bookstore or online.

Other material online

Course Website

The class web-page: http://web.cecs.pdx.edu/~sheard/course/CyberMil/ is an invaluable resource. Be sure and learn how to use it effectively.

The class webpage maintains a "Daily Record" which catalogs every class activity. Activities include lectures, mentor-sessions, reading assigments, writing assignments, projects, etc. These are catalogued by day, both when they are assigned and when they are due. You should check the daily record before every class.

Things needed

Mentor Sessions

Mentor sessions are an integral part of the course and provide an array of learning experiences that will enable you to succeed in this course. Attendance and participation will be part of your grade.

Spring Term E-Portfolio

At the end of the Spring term you will submit a portfolio showing your work and demonstrating your progress against University Studies Goals. The final end of the year portfolio must be a web page and will be cumulative. So save ALL your work both electronically and in hard copy at least until the end of the year. The fall portfolio may be waived, however you would still need to do the final essay and need to save your fall work for the winter and spring portfolios. See FRINQ ePortfolio Guide for some more details.

University Studies Goals

Inquiry based student learning is the cornerstone of the University Studies’ Freshman Inquiry courses. The goals are to develop those skills that will be crucial to your academic success and beyond. The four major learning goals of University Studies are: The goals themselves, as well as grading rubrics used by instructors to evaluate if students have met these goals can be found at: http://www.pdx.edu/unst/goals.html

Grading and Assignments

Spring term we will be doing a 4-week project on learning to program. This will include many small programming tasks and a programming project. The project will be done in pairs, and will be based upon each teams interests, but must illustrate the mantra - (1) Acquire data. (2) Manipluate data. (3) Visulaize data.

There will also be a term paper that will incorporate numeric data and the graphic visualization of data. Most likely the topic of the paper will be drawn from our study of The Singularity is Near.

We’ll also have several short (1-2 page) writing assignments, and worksheets and quizes based upon the readings.

Course grade will be based roughly on the following, however changes to assignments may change this somewhat.

Please save your work throughout the year. You will need it for the preparing a cumulative portfolio each quarter. Your Mentor records your mentor session participation and attendance and has direct input in your grade. Final grade is assigned by the instructor.

Work not turned in, unacceptable work or an absence from class when the work was done receives no credit. In addition if more than five classes (main and/or mentor) are missed the quarter grade will be reduced by one full letter grade. You will be marked absent for the day if you miss more than ten minutes of class. You will receive a failing grade if you miss a total of 10 instructor lead classes or mentor sessions or a combination thereof, despite your grades on work completed.

Readiness to learn means that you will come to class with questions and insights to offer to others and be prepared to discuss the assigned reading. We will be learning from each other and your voice is important. Your participation grade will include attendance, participation in class discussions, participation in online discussions, and group work in class on smaller design problems and case studies.

Student Conduct/Plagiarism:

The following constitutes conduct as proscribed by Portland State University for which a student or student organization or group is subject to disciplinary action:

All forms of academic dishonesty, cheating, and fraud, including but not limited to: (a) plagiarism, (b) the buying and selling of course assignments and research papers, (c) performing academic assignments (including tests and examinations) for other persons, (d) unauthorized disclosure and receipt of academic information and (e) falsification of research data.

Source: Office of Student Affairs at Portland State University, Code of Student Conduct and Responsibility. A copy of the full code can be found at http://www.pdx.edu/media/c/o/CodeofConduct.doc. A copy can be obtained from The Office of Student Affairs at Smith Memorial Center Room 433. The Writing Center at Portland State University has prepared PLAGARISM: A Guide for Students to assist students in understanding plagiarism and developing strategies on avoiding it. A copy of this guide is available from Writing Center located in Cramer Hall 188F. Please read it carefully. Or see http://www.writingcenter.pdx.edu/ or http://www.lib.pdx.edu/instruction/survivalguide/index.htm Scholarly work resulting from plagiarism or cheating will receive no credit and all expectations of student conduct code will be strictly enforced in class.

Disability Resources

If you have a disability and are in need of academic accommodations, please notify me (the instructor) immediately to arrange needed support. For more information about the Disability Resource Center, see http://www.pdx.edu/iasc/drc.html.

Writing Resources

The Writing Center - 188F Cramer Hall, 725-3570. The Writing Center is available for PSU students needing relatively minor or specific help with a piece of writing. The Writing Center can also give students advice on citing sources, avoiding plagiarism, etc.

Writing for International Students or Non-Native English Speakers - Classes are available for students with language and/or cultural issues, and need major help with writing. The classes are LING 115, Writing for Non-Native Residents, from the Linguistics Department, or WR 121, College Writing for International Students, from the English Department. The linguistics course emphasizes language and cultural skills and the English course emphasizes the writing process. For additional advice in the Linguistics Department contact Ruth Chapin (725-4147) or Judy Reed (725-8793).

Other: A one-credit supplemental writing course, WR 199, Grammar Refresher, is offered by the English Department for students with more serious writing needs and can be taken concurrently with FRINQ. WR 115, Introduction to College Writing, is for students feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of college-level writing. The English Department also has a number of course offerings dealing with writing research papers and within the disciplines for more advanced writers. For additional advice in the English Department contact Hildy Miller (725-3563).

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