The UW Tech Policy Instructional 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 (see Table 1) 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.
Instructional Case Study Tech Policy Theme
“Drones Okay” Playground: Fun with Personal Drones. Considers the design of a multi-use playground suitable for safely flying personal drones for fun and recreation. Autonomous vehicles
Workforce Management: Scheduling Call-Center Workers. Considers the design of regulations for algorithms that predict staffing needs and schedule employees. Artificial Intelligence and work
NeighborSpin: Sharing Laundry Facilities. Considers the design of a peer-to-peer platform for sharing laundry facilities. The sharing economy
Gaslighting and the Smart Home. Considers protecting an individual from being abused through psychologically damaging adjustments to a home living environment. Internet of Things

Table. The tech policy design oriented case studies.

This document includes background information on the case studies and the four case studies. Chapter one describes the pedagogical assumptions that underlie the case studies. Each of the case studies uses methods developed in value sensitive design. Chapter two gives a closer look at those methods. Chapters three through six contain the individual case studies, including background information on the technology and social context at hand, the recommended design process, and prompts for reflective discussion and writing. Finally, the document includes a glossary, which gives brief definitions of selected terms.


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Designing Tech Policy by David Hendry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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