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Communications of the ACM

ACM at 60: a look back in time

The ACM and IEEE-CS Guidelines For Undergraduate CS Education


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ACM curriculum recommendations have been instrumental over the last 40 years in defining what is taught at educational institutions around the world.

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Wanbil Lee

Social, ethical, and professional issues (which I use the term Computer Ethics to represent) are included "late" (but better than "never"). Obstacle 1: inclusion of "Computer ethics" as a regular course in a Computing curriculum has been overcome more or less - a lot of CS Depts have done that; some even make this subject a compulsory course. Obstacle 2: textbook, not quite OK. The number is relatively small, and a couple more popular ones, like that Deborah Johnson, are products of Philosophers, not computer scientists or engineering. The one by Johnson is well written while the others only so. But Johnson's book hasn't attracted CS/CE students to read as expected because of language barrier (I guess) - I assigned that book as a recommended text for the past five years, but had a hard time writing supplementary stuff and updating it every year. Obstacle 3: teacher, bad news. For various reasons (pragmatic and real), CS/CE professors have been buried in the other ten areas for their research and teaching, and can afford no time for or can pay little interest to Computer Ethics. Further, the academics mostly have little or no experience in the real-world practice so attendance of their classes are low (around 30% according to the statistics before I was invited to take up the job) and practitioners were gradually phased out because of an insufficient publication record or lacing a doctorate. I think we need more computer scientists to pay more attention to the subject matter, and university authority to adjust their personnel policy.

Ir Prof Dr Wanbil W. Lee
Visiting Lecturer in Computer Ethics
Dept of Computing, HK Polytechnic Univserity


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