The topic has been chosen as “Does it need to change the teaching process of ethics in the courseware of the ICT graduate students?”. Our lives are now very much dependent of information and communication technologies and its applications. So, it has taken part in the course curriculums. At the same time, there are raising numbers in the issues related to ethics in ICT implementation and practices. Studies have found that there are more number of people who are involved in different unethical issues in ICT, belongs to ICT graduate backgrounds. On the contrary, in the same domains, the people from non ICT graduate backgrounds are less involved in unethical issues. (Al-Saggaf & Burmeister, 2012)
Thus it has raised questions about the process of teaching ethics in the graduate courseware in the universities that teach ICT courses.
It has raised a question about the impact of ethics course on the ICT students, their capability to grasp the course, understand it and apply the knowledge from the course in real life scenarios. According to the results from studies, it is evident that the students are not able to understand the applicability of the knowledge from the course in their professional lives. Here a big question is whether the students are gathering any knowledge from the course or it is just a mere syllabus for them, where they study the material, gives exams and forget about it. (Alexeyeva, Brey, Voronkov, & Langford, 2004)
ICT courses are professional courses and most of the topics belong to the science subjects. Students who are graduated in ICT courses are mostly from science backgrounds that is, in their early student lives they had studied science subjects like mathematics, physics etc. Science subjects are more like experiments and application of the theories in practical scenarios. So students from science background are habituated with subject that are practical based subjects rather than mere philosophies and theories.
Thus a suggesting is that ethics can be taught as DET or like practical subjects. Here the students will be given case studies and their approaches to the cases and their ethical awareness in ICT will be judged. On the other hand, these experiments will help the students to understand their standing points. This experiment based teaching approach will be liked by them as well. So they will find interests in the subject. (Johnston, McGregor, & Taylor, 2000)
In many cases, it has been seen that students don’t find the course on Ethics useful and coherent with their curriculum. In that case, the suggestion is, designing the curriculum must be coherent with the whole coursework. For example, if it is a humanities courseware then the curriculum should be designed in that way. The learning outcomes will be designed in different way than it could be in case of science and ICT course curriculums. (Tondeur, Braak, & Valcke, 2007)
Ethics is a subject being studies for hundreds and thousands of years. On the contrary, ICT is a new domain of studies. This is more technical and practical domain. Compared to that the studies on ethics are mostly philosophical. The main subject of ethics is the relationship between individuals and event, defining it and arguing whether the outcome is ethical or not. It is a study of the values of human beings, their rights etc. Personal thoughts, logic and values makes the behavior of a human being ethical or unethical. Thus it is more depending on how someone will react on some scenario, there is no fixed rule.
The way ethics is taught in the typical university ICT courses and the ethical considerations or scenarios faced by the ICT professionals in real life are different. ICT professionals are more inclined to think about the technologies, the data privacy issues, security issues etc. than thinking about ethical issues in the same context. They just sometimes never realized or ignores the ethical issues such as compromise on quality for meeting deadline, tradeoff between revenue and quality of service, unprofessional behavior, making false assurances etc. There are also issues related to professionalisms, like blaming each other instead of focusing on the job or fixing an error, missing deadlines and accusing the technology or platform, overpricing a service or product etc. But, unfortunately, no course on ethics in ICT course teach about this. But the irony is, all universities in the country teach ethics in ICT courseware.
Studies have revealed, the materials in a typical ethics course offered in an ICT courseware includes topics like cybercrime, privacy, security, regulation of commerce, intellectual property, free speech and many more with a chapter on professional ethics. But in the professional life this one chapter is mostly needed. The topic, professional ethics should cover chapters like code of ethics in software engineering, general code of ethics etc. and how those can be implemented in different real life scenarios. (Johnston, McGregor, & Taylor, 2000)
ACS requires the universities to add ethics in a courseware for accreditation. But there is no clear description or details about what should be taught. Thus the universities follow the ‘rule’ for accreditation and the main objective of adding ethics as subject for study is ignored.
There are different views on the topics, that how ethics should be taught to students especially to the students from ICT course background. Some suggests that, there should be rigorous assessments on the subject so that students take the subject seriously. Another suggestion is teaching ethics interestedly with other subjects instead of teaching is as a separate subject.
But, there is agreement on the fact that, it should not be taught based on philosophies only. At the same time it does not indicate to disintegration of philosophy from the ethics course. It is actually delivering the course in the best possible way to the future ICT professionals.
Another suggestion is about teaching the course using plenty of case studies or real life scenarios that will help the student to connect their study materials, knowledge etc. in real life cases or ethic in professions. Another issue raised with this suggestion is, what kind of persons should teach the subject. As real life scenarios are involved, so persons who are working as ICT professionals and have sound knowledge in ethics can teach the subject well, because they can help the students to understand the bridge between ethics as a subject and ethic in professional life, from their own experiences in the industry.
The issues related to the teaching process of ethics to the ICT students has number of issues to consider. Some conclusions from the discussion above can be, the placement of ethics as a mandatory subject in an ICT curriculum has more things to do than just being present. If analyzed deeply then this is a more ‘practical’ subject that is beyond common sense or bookish knowledge. Also there are issues related to the teaching process, who should be teaching the subject etc.
A finding for the problem is, there should be bridge to cover the practical life scenarios in professional ethics and the theories or philosophies. The integration will depend on the process of delivering the same to the students. A mixed approach can be, professors or teachers can teach the subject to the students, but there may be frequent workshops by professionals from industries to teach them real life scenarios. And the students will need to complete the classes and workshops to pass the examination. This will help them to study the subject, understand it and applying the knowledge in real life scenarios. (Tondeur, Braak, & Valcke, 2007)
Beyond everything ethics needs common sense and logic. There is no spoon feeding technique that will turn the students into ethical ICT professionals. First of all, being ethical or not is a choice of the individual, in spite of taking ethics class successfully a student can behave unethically due to different personal and environmental issues. Also, there may be students who does not have enough logic and common sense to understand a real scenario and applying the knowledge in the best possible way. However, this is very unlikely to happen in case of an ICT professional. (Alexeyeva, Brey, Voronkov, & Langford, 2004)
As a conclusion, the teaching process of ethics to the ICT students’ needs to be modified. It needs to be more practical and coherent to the real life scenarios from industries. Students of and ICT course will not have pretty much interest on the history or philosophies of ethics, they may find the pattern of the course quite out of their curriculum also. Thus they need to have a well-designed course curriculum, with professional ethics being a part of it. From the overall ethics course, the topics of professional ethics should be given more stress. Exclusion of philosophies should be done in a way that the course does not become out of synchronization with the concepts of ethics. There should be changes in the selection of persons teaching the course. As this is a different course from other courses in the curriculum, so special attention and arrangement should be there. There should be alignment with industry so that students can learn and understand real life scenarios they might be faced in future.
The rationale diagram is attached at the end of the essay,
Alexeyeva, I., Brey, P., Voronkov, Y., & Langford, D. (2004). Ethical, Psychological and Societal Problems of the Application of ICTs in Education. Moscow: UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education.
Al-Saggaf, Y., & Burmeister, O. K. (2012). Improving skill development: an exploratory study comparing a philosophical and an applied ethical analysis technique. Computer Science Education, 237–255.
Johnston, S., McGregor, H., & Taylor, E. (2000). Practice-focused ethics in Australian engineering education. European Journal of Engineering Education, 315-324.
Tondeur, J., Braak, J. V., & Valcke, M. (2007). Curricula and the use of ICT in education: Two worlds apart? British Journal of Educational Technology, 962–976.
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