I had a great opportunity to participate with a community of educators mostly centered around New York City talking about ethics in CS education ( using the hashtag #EthicalCS). The forum was a twitter storm which is about as new media as I’m ever likely to get. The discussion thread is embedded below. The conversation spiraled all around these tweets
It was great to engage with a pretty large online virtual audience. Here were the conversation starters.
Q1: Introduce yourself and the work you do and your connection to ethics, CS, tech, etc.
Hi y’all. I am a professor at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. @WestmontNews is a small, private,— Don Patterson (low chill) (@djp3) September 26, 2019
religiously-affiliated, liberal arts school with an established CS program and a new engineering program. #EthicalCS
We also have a focus on revising our intro CS classes to— Don Patterson (low chill) (@djp3) September 26, 2019
incorporate ethics in all the assignments and the Gaede Institute which does semester long ethically themed programming (for example on Race and Ethnicity this year) https://t.co/4bLfhQUnjl 2/2
Q2: How do you engage with, learn more about the ethical implications of CS and tech? What topics should be incorporated in teaching in CS classes in K -12 through college level? Why?
We have to push back and not let society (us!) not hold the people that make the systems accountable for their behavior. That is tough! But I teach my students as if it IS their problem and they typically step up and own the responsibility.— Don Patterson (low chill) (@djp3) September 26, 2019
Q3: Should ethics be incorporated in CS classes or be a standalone class? How do students engage/react to ethics in CS classes when you have brought it up? What advice do you have for us?
A surprise to me is that the assignments that I have reworked for ethics are less likely to be cheated on because the answers aren’t clear and are highly contextualized— Don Patterson (low chill) (@djp3) September 26, 2019
to a particular situation – even if the principles aren’t. #EthicalCS 2/2
A3. My female students in particular are highly engaged in the ethics tinged assignments. I think the assignments demonstrate at a very early stage the power that these systems have on real life and provide a creative outlet if they aren’t into gaming, etc…— Don Patterson (low chill) (@djp3) September 26, 2019
Q4: In what ways can we promote open source sharing, growing, and development of #ethicalCS resources? What would help other educators engage in this way of working? What else should we try?
CS-POGIL was funded by the NSF (at least parts of it were) so getting a patron might be in order. #EthicalCS— Don Patterson (low chill) (@djp3) September 26, 2019
Q5: Are there any specific lessons/syllabus/readings you have made or tried, or want to try, that you can share with us? What was the context? How did it go? #ethicalCS
And I just made one for intro CS to learn functions that asks them to uses real census data to predict income levels. What demographics will you use to guess? The students are acting like an AI algorithm! #EthicalCS 2/2— Don Patterson (low chill) (@djp3) September 26, 2019
Q6: Any final thoughts? Anything you want to share that you didn’t get a chance to do yet?
A6. Something that I don’t think we say but that needs to be said is that sometimes being ethical means not making as much money as possible. Ideally smart people can out compete with #EthicalCS ideas, but it’s harder than the path of least resistance. Gotta face capitalism…— Don Patterson (low chill) (@djp3) September 26, 2019
And here is the root thread. Happy digging!