Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Effectiveness of an Electronic Performance Support System on Computer Ethics and Ethical Decision-Making Education

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Effectiveness of an Electronic Performance Support System on Computer Ethics and Ethical Decision-Making Education

Article excerpt


Computers play an important role in modern societies. We communicate with our friends, read articles, share documents end even find new social groups via computers. If a technological tool is so nested within the daily life of the human being, it is then inevitable that new social problems will emerge related to its usage. Some of these emerging issues consist of different ethical cases. Barger (2008) pointed out that old ethical problems have evolved into new complex ones because of the remarkable operating capacities of computers. However, ethical principles are not based on punishments as is the case with the legal system or on changeable rules as is the case with personal morality. The most important goal in ethics is to regulate social relationships among individuals by using a global perspective. Mason (1986) categorized the ethical problems of the information age under four headings: Privacy, accuracy, accessibility and property. The attributes of intellectual property, the rules of access to common knowledge, the certain limits of individual or official privacy and the problems arising from the transmission speed of wrong data are a few of the subtopics discussed under these headings. Specific ethical approaches, concepts, policies or values related to computers are studied in the field of computer ethics. The most effective and scientific way to cope with ethical issues is by using the ethical decision-making models proposed by different researchers. However, using these ethical decision-making models to solve the computer-related ethical issues faced in everyday life can be tough and include complex processes for individuals to follow. In this regard, using an EPSS in the role of the facilitator of an ethical decision-making process can be an effective and easy way to reach logical solutions to ethical issues.

In the literature, it can be seen that there have been a few attempts to support ethics or computer ethics education processes through the technological tools. Coldwell (2000), with his study titled "It is possible to teach computer ethics via distance education", investigated the possibilities of accessing computer ethics content by using Internet connections. At the end of his research, he mentioned that if the required technological infrastructure is not used then providing an online computer ethics course would be harder than doing so through traditional methods, In 2005, an online computer ethics course was given by Ferhan Odaba[section]i and Abdullah Kuzu (Uysal & Odabasi, 2013), which was a project financially supported by European Union. In this 6-week course, case-based methods were used for online ethical decision-making and evaluation processes. In another study, Biggerstaff (2008) used the online environment to give a social work ethics course. She used a case-based ethics education model in her study.

In a new attempt, an online EPSS named BILEP was developed in this study to support computer ethics education and ethical decision-making processes. The effectiveness of the system was examined over the span of the 3-month experimental study in a computer ethics course. During this experimental study, an attempt was made to find answers to these specific research questions: (a) What could be the positive effects of an EPSS on a theoretical computer ethics education? (b) What could be the positive effect of an EPSS on an ethical decision-making education? Additionally, at the end of the experimental process, the opinions of the participants regarding the BILEP system and the use of such software in ethics education were recorded in semi-structured interviews.

Literature review

Theoretical bases of computer ethics

The impact of the use of technological tools has increased dramatically in recent decades. As a result, the ethical use of computers and information technology has also become a subject of great interest. Grant, Stahl and Rogerson (2009) stated that computer ethics, which is a relatively new discipline, brings together people such as computer scientists, engineers, teachers, academicians, philosophers and psychologists in order to discuss ethical issues. …

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