Appendices Appendix A ICT Literacy A8 Social and Ethical Issues
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UNIT A8 – SOCIAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES

Objective

Students should be able to understand the social, economic and ethical issues associated with the use of computers. They should be able to explain the current situation and trends in computing against the background of past developments.

Sub-objectives

Students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  1. the benefits and drawbacks of computer use to society in general;
  2. the economic advantages and disadvantages of the use of computers;
  3. the ethical questions which have arisen as a result of computer use with respect to privacy aspects, copyright issues and computer viruses;
  4. the current situation and trends in computing against the background of past developments in:
    1. hardware;
    2. software;
    3. operating methods.

Context

Where are we going? In order to answer the question we have to know where we have come from. The world of computing will be very different by the time students enter the work place, but many of the changes are predictable if we study the trends up to now. In addition, we have to know some of the history of computing in order to understand the terminology and procedures we find today.

Students should be made to realise that computers do not always contribute positively to society. They should appreciate the seriousness of the social, economic and ethical issues over the years. There can be misuses and abuses as well as unethical behaviour by those in control of computing facilities. Students should be aware of such behaviour and how it can be corrected.

Content

Students should understand the key stages in the evolution of computers over the years. This may be looked at from the following points of view: early history (weaving, calculating machines, code breaking); CPU development (improvements in speed and power versus decrease in price, size and energy consumption); input devices (developments from punched cards to mice and speech recognition); output devices (from teletype to video display unit); and storage devices (from punched paper to hard disks); software (from changing the wiring to user-friendly software tools); text and document processing (leading to the «paperless office»); and operating methods (developments from batch processing and time-sharing to local and wide area networks, multi-tasking and distributed processing).

Students are expected to understand basic concepts such as computer crime and fraud, equity, intellectual ownership, privacy of information, links between automation and unemployment, and computer security (theft, hacking, viruses).

Resources

Minimum necessary resources:
Pictures or illustrations of earlier computers.

Optional extra resources:
Suitable books, newspaper clippings of newly launched computer hardware or software, newspaper articles of soon-to-be launched or future hardware and software, videos, examples of hardware, software and peripherals.

Links

All other A-Units.

Methodology

Discussions; student-based research;

Visits to facilities with earlier and recent computer hardware.