Scaffolding Undergraduate Students' Ethical Cyber Behaviour With Philosophy and Theory

Scaffolding Undergraduate Students' Ethical Cyber Behaviour With Philosophy and Theory

Tariq Zaman, Adrian Lau Hui Yi, Haw Yih Cheng
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5284-4.ch006
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Due to the growing challenges of cyber security, accreditation agencies demand computing ethics and professionalism as part of the computer science undergraduate curriculum. Many professional bodies developed codes of ethics and professional conduct, providing fundamental principles and letting the professional “decide” their response to face ethical dilemmas. The ethical codes rarely provide examples from real life. Therefore, in a six-month semester, the authors developed a teaching and learning module simulating real-life conflicting scenarios to enable students to participate in ethical and philosophical argumentation. They also target to demonstrate how storytelling, conflicting scenarios, and comics can be used to enhance computer science students' engagement in theoretical and philosophical discussions related to ethical cyber behaviour. Two assignments were part of the students' evaluation. They need to develop textual and visual conflicting scenarios for co-distributed clauses of the ACM code of ethics and then test those scenarios with users.
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Malaysia has become one of the most popular destinations for higher education in the last decade. However, the Malaysian Education Blueprint (MEB) 2015-2025 acknowledges the lack of requisite knowledge skills and attitude in Malaysian graduates, which is getting wider because of the uncertain future and technological disruption. The blueprint highlights the six primary attributes, including ethics and spirituality, that lead the graduates' aspirations in Malaysian Higher Education (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2015). Therefore, all the undergraduate programmes integrate a course on ethics to address the student's needs and satisfy the programme's accreditations requirements. In the last two decades, computing technologies have been deeply integrated and touched the lives of everyone. The applications and algorithms also resulted in unintended but harmful consequences along with positive impacts (O'Neil, 2016). Significant concerns emerged about the efficacy of the courses on ethics in computer science education. Kugler (2022) argues to ask, reflect, and initiate philosophical discussion on big-picture questions related to technology and morality in cyberspace before the technology is developed. The topic of morality and technology is not new in the field of Philosophy, and the Philosophy of science has developed tools to discuss the fundamental questions about technology and where responsibility would lie in case of any harm caused by the technologies. Previous researchers also discussed the strong relationship between the thinking process in the human brain, moral behaviour and the influence of technology on a user’s neurochemistry (Sherman et al., 2018; Crone and Konijn, 2018). The algorithms motivate users to make positive moral decisions and reward them for making bad ones. One solution designed by Harvard University is to integrate topics of ethics across the curriculum and engage faculty from the Philosophy department to co-teach the course (Grosz et al., 2019). This should instigate the students' thinking process not just on technology development but also on the technology needs, impact, and design. Teaching and learning of ethics in computer science are now a day considered a trans-disciplinary domain for exploration by not just positioning it within the hardcore technical computer science. In this book chapter, we will share the process of designing, developing and facilitating ethics and professionalism course in a computer science programme. The course aims to develop the students' understanding of ethical and structural challenges when dealing with emerging issues, such as cyber security, misinformation, and algorithm biases. In the following sections, first, we will provide the literature review and background, followed by the course contents and methodology. In the methodology section, we will provide details of the course design, and in the following section, we will provide the structure of students' assignments and assessments with a few examples. The chapter will end with a discussion and conclusion section.

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