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Peer Review

Cases on Ethics in Computing



Overall Numeric Rating:

4.9 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.9 stars
Ease of Use: 4.7 stars
Reviewed: May 21, 2005 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: This site provides links to 3 cases that can be used for teaching ethics as it relates to computing. Each case contains a brief history, teaching suggestions specific to the case, an introduction to using socio-technical and ethical analysis for computing cases, five associated exercises, and a variety of teaching support resources. This peer review is focused on the case of Hughes Aircraft. It is a whistle-blower case where the allegations against Hughes Aircraft resulted in a criminal case and a civil case. Overall, the site is very rich and multilayered, providing extensive materials related to the teaching of the cases collectively and specifically.
Type of Material: Case study. This is not an interactive learning object, but a set of textual case materials. The site is composed of three cases involving computers and ethics. This review focuses on the third case of Hughes Aircraft. Hughes was not completing various environmental chip testing processes required by contract. This is a whistle-blower case where the allegations against Hughes Aircraft resulted in a criminal case and a civil case.
Recommended Uses: The information provided on this site can be used to teach business, computer, and any students learning about ethics and social responsibility. In a broader ethics course, use of teams with diverse backgrounds in business majors would be desirable to allow multiple perspectives to be brought to bear on the business issues in addition to the computing ethics issues.
Technical Requirements: Standard Web Browser
Identify Major Learning Goals: The major learning goals focus on analysis of actual cases in ethics and social
responsibility with particular emphasis on computers and related technology, and
use of both socio-technical analysis and ethical analysis. Secondary learning
issues are related to legal issues in product liability, computer misuse,
privacy, and whistleblowing. The material on this site would supplement many courses and class applications. Each of the 5 exercises provided have 2 similar objectives.
1 to make students aware of ethical issues and
2. to give students practice in evaluation and decision making. It is the intent through post analysis discussion to also
3. lead students to actual responsible action.
As with any use of case method, developing analytical skills is another appropriate objective.
Target Student Population: All business students at post secondary level. Could be used with individuals or groups.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Ability to navigate through computer links. It would be helpful if students had experience in conducting case analyses, have background in ethics and computer ethics and related models of analysis, and basic understanding of computer hardware and software concepts.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The site is very thorough, with a thoughtfult set of materials, well supported with extensive bibliographic references. In depth case content is provided as well as extensive teaching notes and materials. The site is well designed from a teaching perspective.
Concerns: None: excellent site

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.9 stars
Strengths: The site provides everything an instructor/student for effective learning. It contains an exceptional depth of materials and full array of teaching notes and materials provides solid grounding for case based teaching.

The strengths can be summarized as:

1. Sound/detailed essays for discussions of ethics cases gearred toward novice (case analysis teaching in general value)
2. Creative methods to teach cases (role plays etc)
3. Specifics on how to teach using the case method
3. Good practical problems
Concerns: The complexity of the cases requires that the instructor be competent in the use of the case method. For those comfortable with case based teaching, there are no concern.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.7 stars
Strengths: As stated above, this site has a quality materials that provide support to faculty in use of the cases. The supporting documents for instructors as well as students makes this site particularly easy to use. Clearly, this is a professional site of excellent quality.

In sum, the site is:

1. Easy to read
2. Easy to navigate links
3. Valuable information for instructors who have had little background in using case analysis method as a teaching tool.
Concerns: Instructors and students who have not worked with case method learning may take a little longer to grasp the analytical skills required to take advantage of just what this site has to offer. But the site's simple navigation and numerous resource links should address this.

Other Issues and Comments: This site has excellent applications other than teaching computer ethics.
However, the site title is deceptive to MERLOT users only in the sense that it can be a valued resource for non-computing instructing including business/human resources. Overall, very impressive set of case materials! Detailed, thoroughly developed and thought out, extensively supported.