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Building An Ethics In Computing Website Using Peer Review

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.249.1 - 6.249.10



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Paper Authors

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Edward Gehringer

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1461

Building an Ethics in Computing Website Using Peer Review Edward F. Gehringer North Carolina State University


An Ethics in Computing Website covering almost 100 topics has been developed using peer- reviewed student contributions. Students in the author’s one-credit Ethics in Computing course select a topic to research from a list provided by the instructor, or propose a topic of their own choosing. Their contributions are then reviewed, and ultimately graded, by three other students taking the course. The best-reviewed pages are then incorporated into the Website. However, most of the work of maintaining the site is performed by a set of independent-study projects during the 10-week summer session. Each student chooses a set of topics, and completes one topic every two weeks. Each submission is subjected to two rounds of review, one round per week. Some of the topics are new; others are merely updates to existing pages. The amount of work required on each topic is ranked from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. Each student is expected to complete topics with a set total rank, usually about 15. In addition to researching topics, each student chooses one “special job,” such as improving the graphics, installing a search engine, or developing a set of style guidelines. The project can be supervised by graduate students, who undertake the responsibility of assigning work to students and integrating the work into the site. Benefits of the project include (i) giving the students an in-depth look at several different ethical issues, (ii) constructing a resource that has been used by instructors around the world, and (iii) providing a low-overhead mechanism for adding another course to the curriculum. This methodology should be applicable to courses involving professional issues in all areas of engineering.

1. Introduction

Ethics in Computing is a fast-changing field. The “hot issues” of one year frequently were not even on the radar screen the year before. The past seven years have seen the rise and fall of encryption policy (e.g., the Clipper chip), regulation of Internet content (e.g., the Communication Decency Act), and Y2K as issues of the hour, that an up-to-date course in computer ethics seemed obligated to address. Concurrently, more enduring issues like spam, copyright of electronic materials, and the “digital divide” have risen to prominence. Clearly, it is difficult for textbooks to keep up. Texts can provide the basic principles and ethical theory, but to hold the attention of a class, it is important to supplement them with current readings.

Since the mid-‘90s, a plethora of relevant articles have been available on the Web. These are readily available with a few clicks on any search engine. But, search engines alone do not fill the bill. The instructor is unlikely to know the right search terms to uncover some of the best case studies, like the Hughes Aircraft case [Bowy 00], the best illustrative sites, like Tom Darby’s interactive tour of the Internet worm [Darb 95], or ethical issues related to fields like artificial intelligence or e-commerce. Moreover, it is easy to fail to notice new ethical issues as they arise

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Gehringer, E. (2001, June), Building An Ethics In Computing Website Using Peer Review Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--8969

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