Author: Sanjay Goel, http://in.linkedin.com/in/sgoel
In 2006, a final year BTech student, Neha Saini, for the first time walked into my room along with a frequent visitor. She had a request for a new kind of elective course, at least within CS department. She wanted a course that would give her the required inputs for handing professional stress. I found the ideas rather interesting and jumped on to create a new 2 credit course, “Human Aspects for Software Engineering (HASE).” The course was taught to 8th sem Btech students during Jan-May2007. 56 students opted for this course. In the subsequent years, 2008 and 2009, this course was taught as a 3 credit course, “Human Aspects for Information Technology.” It attracted students with excellent programming skills as well as those students who were not so much interested in programming. Some students found the course highly valuable for transforming their outlook towards software engineering process. Some felt that it would probably play a role in making them more responsible engineers. Some felt that the importance of evaluating the social impact of software during its design phase became clearer to them.
In 2007, the course was designed as follows:
Objectives: Students will be exposed to various humanistic theories and research in order to develop their ability to judge and take decisions at various phases of engineering and deployment of software and IT system in the light of wider human concerns and made them sensitive towards the social implications of software.
Expected Learning Outcomes: Student will be able to
- Understand various humanistic theories and perspectives with reference to their applicability to engineering and deployment of software and IT systems.
- Develop an understanding of professional ethics, value-sensitive design, and sustainable development of software and IT systems.
- Critically analyze humanistic literature from software development perspective and also critique the software development literature from humanistic perspective.
1. Professional Aspects: Codes of Ethics and Professional Practice, ACM, AITP, IEEE.
2. Personal Aspects: Inquiry about value orientations of individuals, Organizational values, Personality theories, Exposure to empirical research in the behavioral sciences with an emphasis on software development, Appraisal and motivation of Programmers.
3. Social Aspects: Peer pressure and other psychological and sociological issues faced by programmers. Social, environmental, and ethical consequences of computer technology, digital divide, social responsibilities of software engineers, Technological citizenship.
4. Risks and liabilities of computer-based systems, technological disasters, software failure, responsibilities towards nature.
In subsequent years, the desired learning outcomes and course content were revised as follows:
Desired learning Outcomes (2009):
Student will be able to
- Understand various humanistic theories, perspectives, approaches, and research methods with reference to their applicability to engineering, deployment, and evaluation of IT systems.
- Develop an understanding of professional ethics, human centric design, and sustainable development of IT systems.
- Explore trans-disciplinary aspects and emerging possibilities for Information technology with human and social sciences.
Course Content (2009):
1. Introduction. Theories and techniques of Creative Thinking and Innovation. Theories of Design, HCI, and usability. Cognitive aspects of software development.
2. Theories of Human Development – Maslow, Perry, Kohlberg, Gilligan, Schwartz, Personality theories etc.
3. Cyber-ethics – Theories of ethics, Codes of Ethics and Professional Practice, ACM, AITP, IEEE, privacy, regulation.
4. Research methods for investigating human and social aspects of computing.
5. Social aspects of IT and IT professions, Relationship and collaboration technology. Digital divide.
6. Risks and liabilities of computer-based systems, technological disasters, software failure, responsibilities towards nature. Sustainable development and IT. IT evaluation.
The Assignments given in 2008 were as follows:
- Reference: Lecture 1- Pick any two topics of your interest from the course description and identify ongoing research questions related to these areas through an overview of current research literature. Make a group with your peers based on common topics. The group should make a presentation of their findings and submit the copy of their presentation before 17 Jan 2008.
1. Reference: Lecture 2- Pick any dimension of the emerging world as discussed in 2nd lecture and propose a novel IT based product/service to meet the novel challenges in the emerging world. Make a very brief presentation of your proposal on 17 Jan 2008.
1. Reference: Lecture 4- Redo your 2nd assignment. Make a comprehensive proposal. Examine the feasibility, benefits, and risks of your proposal from various perspectives. Proposal defense – 2 weeks before final exam.
1. Reference: Lecture 5- Talk to few working professionals, with minimum 4 yrs of work experience. Identify some of the moral dilemmas faced by them as part of their professional life. Analyze the reasoning in the light of Kohlberg’s model. Maintain confidentiality of the concerned persons and organizations in your deliberations.
1. Reference: Lecture 6- Identify some of the moral dilemmas faced by you as part of your professional life. Analyze the reasoning in the light of Kohlberg’s and Gilligan’s models. Maintain confidentiality of the concerned persons and organizations in your deliberations.
1. Reference: Lecture 7- Identify some of the star performers amongst JIIT alumni. Analyze their personality traits during their student days in the light of Kohlberg’s and Gilligan’s models on one hand and also in terms of their approach to responsiveness.
- Interact with working professionals to understand their perception of professionalism.
Assignments #8: (20 marks) Submission Date: 22 Feb 2008.
- Based on the topics, theories, models, and studies discussed in the HAIT so far, formulate an enquiry question. Do a critical analysis of the published research literature on this question and also carry out your own field survey of at least 20 professionals to empirically ground your enquiry.
Get your enquiry question approved before 15th February.
Assignment #9: Interact with some civil engineers to find out what all and how they test what they build. Find out the details of testing procedures of a high quality non-electronic manufacturing unit like automobiles etc. Also find out the testing procedures of a high quality electronic product.
Assignment#10: Self critique your project and project process on the lines of ACM-IEEE code of ethics.
Assignment#11: Self critique your project’s user interface on the lines of Scheiderman’s golden rules.
Assignment#13: (20 marks) Submission Date: 8 April 2008. Write an essay on technological disasters. You must site 10 technological/industrial disasters in your essay. At least 3 of these should be caused by failures in IEEE family of engineering disciplines and at least one should must be mainly attributed to software failure. Critique the ACM-IEEE code of ethics for SE in the light of these disasters. Also identify the weaknesses of this code by comparing it with the ethical code for other professions.
Assignment#14: i. Apply SCAMPER model of creative thinking to generate new possibilities for any existing class of IT product or service. Especially use the art of Reversal to create new possibilities.
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses in SCAMPER set of creative thinking abilities. Prepare a plan to overcome your weaknesses.
Assignment#15: (25 marks) Last Submission Date: 10 May 2008. In the light of various creative processes discussed in the class, analyze and identify the creative processes that may have resulted into various CSE/ IT concepts, algorithms, products, and services. Also analyze the creative processes of all research references related to your final year project. Based on your findings, write an essay on the broad theme of “Creativity in computing.” Give an appropriate title to your essay.