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Ethical Use of Information Technologies In Education.

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Introduction

ETHICAL USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES IN EDUCATION Today humankind is at a crossroad - as individuals, schools, organisations, and governments increasingly rely upon computerised information and digital communications. In many cases a fax machine will soon be as useful as a mail carrier on horseback, and paper files will be as practical as clay tablets. Consider only the last decade's changes in personal communications with phone machines and voice mail, personal banking with automated teller machines, writing with word processors, community newsletters with desktop publishing and mailed correspondence with fax machines. But the question is how do people protect personal privacy against degradation in that small town named Earth - when the neighbourhood gossip uses a computer and the backyard fence is the global net? Security is becoming a fundamental requirement of information networks. Strong security technology is required to protect users' sensitive or valuable information, both within the communication network and within information processors connected to the network (Ford 1994, p.1). Operators of computer networks are largely unaware of the potential threats to their information, or they choose to ignore such threats. ...read more.

Middle

A child, who would never think of searching through a classmate's desk to read her personal diary, might feel free to access and read the same classmate's diary stored in a word processing file on a network. A teenager, who would never dream of robing a bank, might experience fewer qualms about attempting to steal funds from the bank electronically. One explanation is that technology removes people from the concrete object. Information technology also introduces psychological distance to the scenario (Friedman 1990, p.30). When people interact with others face to face and behave unethically, they experience first hand the harm they have caused. But when people use information technology in a way that does harm to others, the act feels less personal because they can't see or hear the other person in exchange. For example, if a group of students gains unauthorised access to a corporate computer network, they might feel pleased that they have succeeded in "beating the system" but might never realise the disruption they have caused to the employees who run and use the network. ...read more.

Conclusion

For technology issues to have an impact on students, they need to be addressed in the classrooms and computer labs as part of the instructional process. Many experts in the field also recommend beginning technology ethics instruction when students are first introduced to technology. Schools have a vital role to play in helping today's children understand how existing values, policies, and laws apply to a rapidly changing, information technology dependent world. To be effective in this role, educational policy makers must understand the ethical dilemmas and legal issues raised by each of the information technologies in schools. They must set realistic policies that comply with the law and policies that model ethical behaviour for all involved. They must also educate teachers about important technology ethics issues and must clearly communicate related school policies to both faculty and students. Equally important, by incorporating the study of technology ethics into the standard curriculum, schools can ensure that the leaders and decision makers of tomorrow will be equipped to make the difficult ethical decisions they will undoubtedly face. ...read more.

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