Curriculum  |  ,   |  April 5, 2020

Designing Tech Policy: Instructional Case Studies For Technologists And Policymakers

Curriculum developed by the University Of Washington Tech Policy Lab. Written by David G. Hendry. 71 pages.

The case studies position students to consider the deeply interactional processes of human values and technology. Within pedagogical bounds, students engage both technical and policy elements and develop design solutions. For instructors, the case studies have been written and formatted so that they can be appropriated for varied educational settings. Each of the tech policy instructional case studies follow this three-part pattern:

  1. Background. The case studies begin with information on the technology and social context at hand. This introduces both the students and the instructor to the technical problem and the social considerations that will be addressed in the design activity.
  2. Design activity. The case studies include a suggested design process, beginning with a design prompt. The design prompt invites students to consider an open-ended challenge in which they must find and frame their own problems within a specific tech policy theme. After the prompt, each case study presents students with a step-by-step design process using methods from value sensitive design (Friedman, Hendry, & Borning, 2017; Friedman & Hendry, 2019). The process can be engaged to varying degrees of depth and robustness.
  3. Reflections. Each case study includes reflective questions about the solution and about the design process. The reflective questions can be used, for example, to structure classroom discussion or in writing assignments completed outside of class.

Table of Contents

  • Instructional Case Studies Background
  • Methods
  • “Drones Okay” Playground: Fun with Personal Drones
    • Theme: Autonomous Vehicles. Considers the design of a multi-use playground suitable for safely flying personal drones for fun and recreation.
  • Workforce Management: Scheduling Call-Center Workers
    • Theme: Artificial Intelligence and Work. Considers the design of regulations for algorithms that predict staffing needs and schedule employees.
  • NeighborSpin: Sharing Laundry Facilities
    • Theme: The Sharing Economy. Considers the design of a peer-to-peer platform for sharing laundry facilities.
  • Internet of Things: Gaslighting and the Smart Home
    • Theme: Internet of Things. Considers protecting an individual from being abused through psychologically damaging adjustments to a home living environment.
  • Glossary

About the Author

  • David G. Hendry us co-director of the Value Sensitive Design Lab at the Information School, University of Washington.
  • The Tech Policy Lab is a unique, interdisciplinary collaboration at the University of Washington that aims to enhance technology policy through research, education, and thought leadership. Founded in 2013 by faculty from the University’s Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, Information School, and School of Law, the Lab aims to bridge the gap between technologists and policymakers and to help generate wiser, more inclusive tech policy.

Published under the Creative Commons License.