Responsible End-User Licensing Lab (REUL lab)

LMC 3403 Technical Communication, Theory and Practice (section F)

This section of LMC 3403 offers students the same learning objectives as other sections of the course, which are focused on professional and technical communication (see the list of them below). Meanwhile, students have a chance to take part in a multi-semester undergraduate research project in the “problem space” of terms of use and end-user license agreements (EULAs), called the “Responsible End-User Licensing Lab” or REUL lab.

EULAs are meant to be contracts governing relations between providers and end users of software, websites, mobile applications, consumer products with embedded software, and the internet of things. These contracts are ubiquitous: In effect provider-licensors like Facebook are free to write private laws that govern nearly every global digital community and every digital medium. EULAs raise important issues in technical communication, human-computer interaction, intellectual property law, business ethics, and technology policy.

You should take this section of LMC 3403 if some or all of the following are true of you:

  • You seek undergraduate research experience.
  • You are interested in the law.
  • You are an entrepreneur who will deliver products or services over the web or via mobile apps.
  • You use the web or mobile apps and want to understand what you are agreeing to.
  • You want to advocate regarding responsible technology policy.

Students in this section will perform substantive research into the EULA problem space, potentially exploring some of the following:

  • What are the practices of major companies regarding their EULAs?
  • Do consumers read EULAs? Why or why not?
  • What would be effective ways to raise consumer awareness of EULAs?
  • Do consumers understand what they may be agreeing to in EULAs?
  • What would be effective ways to improve consumer comprehension of EULAs?
  • How can web and mobile companies engage in ethical end-user licensing?
  • Should the legal system reconsider the enforceability of EULAs as they are currently used?

Students in Dr. Larson’s previous 3403 sections began this work. (Their work will soon be available at the REUL Lab site.) Students in spring 2017 will continue it and hand their work off to students in Larson’s fall 2017 section.

The assignments in this course result in substantive research on questions like those above presented in the form of technical and professional communication artifacts. The instructor evaluates the artifacts and provides feedback, assisting the students in improving their communications. The multi-semester research context and the group projects and adaptive assignment structure model the kinds of skills students will find in many work environments.

In spring 2017, we will have undergraduate research assistants aiding in our work. They will be from a related field of study (such as human-computer interaction, computer science, business, or public policy) and will assist students in advancing their projects.

Interested students may continue their involvement after the semester, potentially leading to peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations where the students may be co-authors.

This special version of LMC 3403 is supported by the Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center (DILAC) at Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. DILAC is supported, in turn, by a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Details

Only the section of LMC 3403 taught by Dr. Brian Larson (section F) is part of the REUL lab.

In spring 2017, the REUL lab meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:35 – 10:35 a.m. The meeting room presently scheduled for the class is in Skiles (see Oscar for details and note that classroom assignments often change).

Grade components

  • Communication assignments subject to revision after instructor feedback
    • Final individual reflective memo
    • Final group project
    • Group presentation(s) on final project
    • Other communication assignments
  • Communication assignments not subject to revision
    • Personal communication profile
    • Individual final project proposal
  • Attendance and participation

Dr. Larson enjoys providing extensive feedback to students to help them develop the skill of appealing to diverse audiences. Thus, a significant portion of each student’s grade rests on assignments that students have a chance to revise.

The small print

Some or all of your writing assignments for this class will become part of the REUL Lab repository. As a condition of attending this class, you agree to license all such content to REUL Lab (and to other people/scholars accessing it on the REUL lab website/repository) under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. You retain ownership of all your copyrights. Creative Commons License
Follow this link for the text of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This course does not satisfy requirements of the Georgia Tech pre-law minor or certificate.

More information

For more information, contact Larson (blarson) at his Georgia Tech email (gatech.edu).

%d bloggers like this: