Teaching Ethics Embbedded in Technical Subjects

Rosalia Peña, Juan Botía and Javier Extremera

Published in: ETHICOMP Journal Vol 1 Issue 2


Nowadays, there is an imperative need of familiarizing future computer professionals with some basic ethical principles. It stems from the fact that in today’s world, these professionals in par with others, are exposed to growing number of ethical dilemmas concerning his/her professions.

The present article discusses a way of teaching ethics in professional fields as applied to 3 year of Computer Science and Telecommunication Engineering students. Our approach consisted on include different aspects of professional ethics into the curricula of subjects directly related to the Telecommunications and Computer Science major. This discussion is accomplished by analyzing answers from two surveys as conducted at the beginning and at the end of the Professional Data Protection, a 45 hours course, offered at Alcal University.

The time allotted to study of Ethical, Legislation and Technical aspects comprised in the course were 7, 9 and 28 respectively.

The students who are about to graduate seemed to be more interested in debates on ethical and legal issues. Linking these topics with teaching technical aspects of Protection of Information helped students realize potentially beneficial or harmful effects of computer on the society. Hopefully, after this course, the students will assimilate these issues as a constituent part of their professional responsibility and try to minimize effects that are not desirable. For the most part, the students confirmed that the debates held within the framework of the course, will influence their behavior when faced in the future with professional dilemmas.

After the course was over, students valued their training in a more positive way in all the aspects: ethical, legal and technical; expressing satisfaction that it was approached as an integrated whole. Their answers confirmed usefulness of this approach in raising standards of education toward total quality, the final objective of any teaching process.

Of all the students who have signed up for our course , less than half of that total said at the beginning that they might have chosen a course specifically devoted to ethics, which implies that our integrated approach appeals to more studets than the specialized method.

The interest in attending organized debates or lectures on the subject of Privacy and Protection of Data has diminished accordingly, yet, personal involvement and interest to those matters has eventually increased.

It is encouraging that short time is sufficient to detect a meaningful change of attitude in the students. Even the conducted surveys have proven their efficiency as didactic tools capable of invoking positive change of attitude in the name of the importance that the students of Computer Science give to privacy. Post-survey analysis yielded an added value by showing them how different are our initial reactions caused by a situation which affects us directly from soul searching response.

From all the previously results, it can be concluded that integrating ethical aspects into the subject matter of our course, enhances the students interest in the same.

Facultative must closely cooperate with and learn from Ethic and Legislation experts in order to adapt methodological tools for tutoring topics so distinct from those which are customarily dealt with and advise on themes and up to dates.


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