As the use of technology escalates in society, this has subsequently led to an enormous expansion of student numbers in the field of computing. Such advances in technology have also served to heighten expectations of all students, regardless of discipline, to use ICT to support their learning activities. Thus, the requirement for having both the technology itself available as well as providing the opportunity to develop requisite IT skills has grown exponentially.
In the face of increasing competition, computing departments within UK universities have sought to increase the "value added" component that they perceive will enhance the attractiveness of their provision to potential applicants. As such, some have sought, and subsequently gained, accreditation by the British Computer Society for their programmes of study. A requirement of such accreditation is that programmes of study in computing include consideration of the ethical issues related to ICT. This is evidenced in a recent survey conducted amongst 14 UK universities who had Computing Science and Information Systems departments. "Nine of the fourteen universities said that their CE teaching was compulsory, six of them mentioned the BCS course accreditation as the reason for the compulsion" (Turner & Roberts, 2001).
The inclusion of CE, as with other topics, requires consideration of a number of issues in terms of how this is implemented, what teaching strategies are to be adopted as well as determining the target audience. Not surprisingly, Turner et al. (2001) discovered "there was little commonality in organization policy for the provision of CE programmes, with few respondents indicating a departmental or university policy. Most reported that CE programmes depended on initiatives by individual lecturers." Turner et al. (2001) found that, "there was a wide range in the approach to the teaching of CE from specialised subjects to a part of the computing subject or merely the discussion of professional issues in other than specialised subjects, while some departments offered only one or more sessions on what was termed the ‘Professional Development of Computer/IT/IS professionals.’"
Thus, although not addressed in this paper, it can also be seen that there are further issues related to the fact that, "the ongoing debates regarding the pedagogy and place of ethics in the computing curriculum relate chiefly to the moral education of the computer professional, and ignore the general computer user"( Turner et al., 2001).
However, regardless of how any particular provision is structured within the curriculum the delivery strategies are impacted by a variety of influences upon both the curriculum and the approaches to learning and teaching in general. These span the two extremes between the objective, deterministic models of learning that have largely underpinned the more didactic practice of teaching and learning (Skinner, 1954; Bernstein, 1977), to the more liberal, divergent, philosophies that have latterly had an influence (Illich, 1974; Vygotsky, 1978). There are further influences from development of the actual technologies as well as from such things as improving retention, widening participation and globalization.
As a consequence of such influences, most HE institutions have begun to adopt student-centred curricula that take account of the more cognitive aspects of learning. As noted by Vosniadou (1994, p.13), "recent approaches to learning emphasize the active, constructive nature of the knowledge acquisition process wherein the learner is not a passive recipient of information but an active and constructive interpreter of meanings." As such, the emergent use of the Internet and multimedia technology is increasingly being recognized as a way of encouraging participation.