Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase II)
Senior high school meeting

Teaching Computer Ethics

Kunio Takahashi, Togane Girl's High School

1. Introduction

Computer ethics concerns the ethical use of information and ethical treatment of others working on a computer network. Since realizing the necessity of teaching this part of computer use, I've done research and prepared teaching material. Teaching computer ethics has just recently caught on, and basic projects have been established to teach them in schools. I'd like to talk a little about the history of this trend and about what we should do in the future.

2. History and topics

2-1. Making teaching materials

Nov. 1995–March 1996
Jointly produced the Japanese version of "The Net: Guidelines and netiquette for users"

February 2, 1996
Released the Japanese version of "Netiquette Guidelines" RFC 1855

March 1996
Established the home page "Netiquette Information (Netiquette Home Page)"

2-2. Exchanging opinions and information and draw up proposals

Sep. 1966
Started the "Wakana Project"

Nov. 1996
Researched the current status of unsuitable information on the Internet

Dec. 1996
Debate concerning the publishing of personal information on home pages

Jan. 1997
Proposal for free and secure transmission of information

March 1997
"Running a home page on Netiquette" (a report for the conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project FY 1996)
"Ethical problems in using a network in schools" (IEICE-FACE)

Sep. 1997
Trial of a ratings system for educational purposes

Oct. 1997
"Teaching computer ethics" (report on Internet use for the CEC)
"School education and netiquette, computer ethics" (the Information Processing Society EIP)

Dec. 1997
Prepared a draft of guidelines concerning the management of school networks (Wakana Project)

Jan. 1998
A database of teaching materials for the subjects "arts and crafts" and "world history"
(Currently testing a search engine that can be used safely in classes)

3. Examples of lessons

We teach students how to use the Internet in our information processing class, and teach computer ethics in the following way:

(1) Before using the Internet

We teach about netiquette and the various risks related to using the Internet. We also teach students proper ways in which to use a network and to determine whether information is reliable, while emphasizing four important points.

1) Real people exist behind the computers
You are dealing with people, not machines. You are not the only one using the network. Keep these other people in mind when you say something on a network.

2) Just as you would in the real world, be aware of risks
Fraud and false information exists on the Internet. Use common sense when deciding whether information is valid. Don't trust or spread further any information that is suspect. Always try to obtain reliable information.
Protect your personal information to keep someone from using it in an unethical way. (For example, when you enter a prize contest, your name, address, and phone number may be given to a dealer of personal information.)

3) Avoid disturbing or annoying other people
It's possible to disturb others without being aware that you are doing so. Remember netiquette, and don't forget to obey laws governing intellectual property.

4) Help make the network better
The existence of the information society is based on give and take. Making a contribution is an essential part of being a good network user. For example, if you make a request and find the information you receive helpful, write a summary and report what you learned through the assistance of others.

(2) While using the Internet

We teach students what to look out for when using e-mail and other Internet services. (3) When trouble occurs When students have problems or we realize they're having problems, we deal with them immediately. We advise or warn students, send a complaint to or warn the other party, if it's someone not associated with our school, and take defensive measures to prevent similar cases from reoccurring.

4. Future plans

Future priorities and goals:

Developing teaching materials
Developing and offering teaching materials on netiquette and computer ethics
Explaining netiquette guidelines and making them available for common use
Developing a curriculum for elementary, junior, senior high schools, and colleges, for instruction in computer ethics
Examining guidelines regarding the sending of information from school home pages

Establishing an environment for computer use
Establishing a rating system for educational purposes
Developing a safe search engine, and improving databases that contain teaching materials
Establishing a safe community using a K-12 virtual closed network

5. Conclusion

It was only gradually that I became interested in teaching computer ethics and in taking part in activities related to this field. I realized that computer ethics were closely related to activities concerning the Internet use while reviewing our past activities. Thanks to this review, I've drawn up a number of opinions regarding computer education.

I would like to use the Internet itself to create more opportunities for active learning, among other educational purposes. This idea is related to the hot topic of developing cognitive abilities. Students can improve problem-solving skills by communicating with others and solving problems on the Internet, in the process becoming part of society following their graduation from school. Active learning can be experienced online much more safely than in the real world, because the risk of physical harm is so much less. It's easier to protect them in a controlled environment. The Internet is a useful tool for teaching students how to adapt to society, and in nurturing and developing their personalities. Students have the chance to fail without the irreversible consequences of failing in the real world. We need to establish a community in which students can take part in mutual exchange, protected by adequate safety measures. If we can teach students how to communicate properly and ethically, we can help them grow and become good citizens, and in turn help create a more affluent and livable society over the course of the next decade or two.

CEC HomePageConference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase II)