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Computer Ethics

.. different classroom procedures for exposing students to the abstract subject of computer users’ ethical behavi! or. The author prefers presenting scenarios for discussions. However, all faculty members do not dive into the waters of a new teaching model.’ Some prefer to stay with a teaching style that is comfortable and familiar. Therefore, what the author believes is the most desirable approach may not be everybody’s approach. Before enumerating three methods for teaching the subject of ethical standards, the computer- specific ethical issues are as follows: 1.

Storing and processing data. Should and unauthorized use of otherwise unused computer services or information stored in computers raise questions of appropriateness and fairness? 2. Producing computer programs. Computer programs are assets. Should they be subject to the same concepts of ownership as other assets? 3. Outputting computer information. To what degree must computer services and users of computers, data and programs be responsible for the integrity and appropriateness of computer output? 4. Artificial intelligence and Expert Systems.

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Should the images of computers as thinking machines, absolute truth products, infallible, and replacements for human errors and as humanlike in nature absolve them from any serious considerations. These roles of computers specify a starting point for developing a method for conveying the need for ethical standards for conduct for computer users. INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACH ONE The first teaching approach to teaching of ethics is to lecture that ethics is a code of behavior. Begin with a clearly defined dictionary definition of ethics. “A set of principles of right conduct; A theory or a system of moral values; The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession” (American Heritage Dictionary, 1992 pp 630).

Subsequently continue to lecture on a behavioral code of ethics for computer professionals. In turn, specify the risks and implications of the abuse of computer systems. These could be a series of lectures in a computer course. This method will inform students about the meaning of ethics. Will this excite students and ensure they will adopt the “right” behaviors? Maybe, yet lectures are often the least effective way for students to learn and reflect beyond a casual examination of any lecture notes. INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACH TWO The second method to fill students with a sense of an ethical code of behavior is to assign readings in current periodicals and newspapers. There are many articles about professionals adapting to and violating real-life ethical issues.

Reading periodicals may start a few students personalizing ethical issues. However, how does the instructor reach the other students who do not reflect on ethical questions? A majority of the students need to evaluate their own ethical behavior code before they can consider computer professionals’ codes. INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACH THREE The third method is to get each student to personalize the topics of computer ethics by way of the presentation of scenarios. A typical scenario predicament for students is as follows: A company bought Microsoftware computer program for a part time student to use at work. The license agreement stipulates, “You should make a backup copy of this program, but you may only use the program on a single machine at any one time.” Knowing you have permission to make a backup, why not make other copies for friends? They only use one computer each and these are backup copies. After all, making backups appears to adhere to the “spirit” of the license though not the letter’ of the license agreement.

Was this student’s action in giving copies of the program to friends acceptable, questionable or unacceptable? Since this particular case requires personal interpretation of copying software, a common dilemma for students, it can become immediately relevant. Another scenario that includes ethics issues applicable to student behavior is as follows: A university student obtained a part-time job as a data entry clerk. His job was to enter personal student data into the university database. Some of this data was available in the student directory, but some of is it was not. He was attracted to a student in his algebra class and wanted to asked her out.

Before asking her, though, he decided to access her records in the database to find out about her background. Were the student’s actions in accessing a follow student’s personal information acceptable, questionable, or unacceptable? Initially ask students to write answers anonymously to the questions posed by a scenario. In a separate paragraph ask them to determine what they would do in the same situation. After receiving the written responses, have a class discussion of the scenario and responses. This method allows the students to hear other viewpoints and alerts them to issues that they might not have previously considered. Choosing scenarios that are more relevant to students are more likely to result in a student’s personalization of the situation.

A meaningful sequence of scenarios may alter student’s attitudes toward a code of ethical behavior. The subject of the scenarios can move to examples of business situations. These can cause the student to postulate about their possible ethical behavior in their future. The instructor can act as an information resource concerning the legal issues of a scenario, but not express their personal ethical attitude to a scenario. Representative examples of business-oriented scenarios are as follows: An employee at the county courthouse had access to all the records in the county data base. Over the past weeks, she had become suspicious about her neighbor’s buying habits.

The neighbor had purchased new lawn furniture, had her house painted and purchased an expensive new car. The employee decided to access her neighbor’s records to determine how this neighbor could afford these purchases. Was the county courthouse employee’s action acceptable, questionable, or unacceptable? If the county courthouse employee suspected that the neighbor might be involved in criminal activity, would that make her actions acceptable, questionable, or unacceptable? A computer programmer enjoyed building small computer systems to give to his friends. He would frequently go to his office on Saturday when no one was working and use his employer’s computer in his office to develop systems for his friends. He did not hide that he was going into the building; he had to sign a register at a security desk each time he entered on the weekends.

Was the programmer’s use of the company computer in his office acceptable, questionable, or unacceptable? A combination of the three instructional approaches can be an entire curriculum, or a significant part of another curriculum. Lectures, readings and experimental teaching seem to actively involve students in the learning process. CONCLUSION Teaching standards for ethical behavior has two primary objectives. The first is the instructor’s emphasis on the importance of the subject. The second is to attempt to motivate students to incorporate a code of ethics into their behavior. Likewise, the objective is to ensure that ethical concerns are always a motive for following this code, not just when it is convenient.

A beginning step of the teaching process is encouraging students to dissipate in scenario discussions. The next step is to calls students to think about how they with react and personally handle these different issues. The ultimate goal is the modification of the students’ ethical behavior, if necessary. Contents Abstract 1 INTRODUCTION 1 NEEDS ASSESSMENT 3 ETHICAL ISSUES IN THE CLASSROOM 5 INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACH ONE 6 INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACH TWO 7 INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACH THREE 7 CONCLUSION 10 BIBLIOGRAPHY 12.

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