Teaching Computer Ethics in the Classroom

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Teaching Computer Ethics in the Classroom The computer is considered one of the most technological advances of the twentieth century. As the general public becomes increasingly ‘computer literate,' the gap between technology and peoples' intellect notably shrinks. The readily available computers, software, and assorted output devices have enlightened many but, in turn, have increased the using of computers for unethical activities, privacy invasion and illegal purposes. Legal sanctions against abusive use of computers are a reactive approach. A proactive approach is to teach students about computer ethics in classrooms. An effective teaching method are the presentation of ethical scenarios. It is anticipated that through this method, students will personalize the need for developing ethical standards of behavior. The ultimate goal is for students, if necessary, to change their set of personal beliefs to include ethics. INTRODUCTION The computer is considered one of the most important technological advances of the twentieth century. Security and privacy issues have been in existence long before the computer became a vital component of organizations' operations. Nevertheless, the operating features of a computer make it a double-edged sword. Computer technologies with reliable error detection and recording capabilities, permit the invasion of a supposedly secure environment to occur on a grand scale and go undetected. Furthermore, computer and communications technology permit the invasion of a persons' privacy and likewise go undetected. Two forces threaten privacy: one, the growth of information technology with its enhanced capacity for surveillance, communication, computation, storage and retrieval and two, the more insidious threat, the increased value of information in decision making. Information has become more vital in the competitive environment, thus, decision makers covet it even if it viol! ates another's privacy. Violation of ones personal privacy, via computers, may in part be due to the incomplete understanding of responsibility on the part of those involved. Is it a management or a technical concern? Ethical standards that evolved over the history of Western civilization deal with interpersonal relationships. What is right or wrong? What one should do and not do when dealing with other people. Ethical behavior in a business environment has not been as clearly defined. When businesses were small and the property of a few individuals, traditional ethical standards were applied to meet different situations. However, as businesses became larger, the interpersonal ethical relations did not provide any clear behavioral guidelines. Likewise, the principles of ethical relationships were even less pertinent to the corporate environments.
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