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Developing a Professional Profile of a Digital Ethics Officer in an Educational Technology Unit in Higher Education

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The digitalisation of learning, teaching, and study processes has a major impact on possible evaluations and uses of data, for example with regard to individual learning recommendations, prognosis, or assessments. This also gives rise to ethical issues centered around digital teaching and possible challenges of data use. One possible approach to this challenge might be to install a Digital Ethics Officer (DEO), whose future profile this paper outlines for a Educational Technology unit of a Higher Education Institution (HEI). Therefore, an introductory overview of the tasks and roles of Ethics Officers (EO) is given based on the literature. The authors then describe the current ethics program of a university of technology and collect current and potential ethical issues from the field of educational technologies. Based on this, a first professional profile for a DEO at an educational technology unit of a university is described. From the authors’ point of view, the article thus prepares important considerations and steps for the future of this position.
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Developing a Professional Profile of a Digital Ethics
Officer in an Educational Technology Unit in Higher
Education
David Andrews, Philipp Leitner, Sandra Schön, and Martin Ebner
Abstract. The digitalisation of learning, teaching, and study processes has a major impact on possible
evaluations and uses of data, for example with regard to individual learning recommendations,
prognosis, or assessments. This also gives rise to ethical issues centered around digital teaching and
possible challenges of data use. One possible approach to this challenge might be to install a Digital
Ethics Officer (DEO), whose future profile this paper outlines for an Educational Technology unit of a
Higher Education Institution (HEI). Therefore, an introductory overview of the tasks and roles of Ethics
Officers (EO) is given based on the literature. The authors then describe the current ethics program of
a university of technology and collect current and potential ethical issues from the field of educational
technologies. Based on this, a first professional profile for a DEO at an educational technology unit of
a university is described. From the authors’ point of view, the article thus prepares important
considerations and steps for the future of this position.
Keywords: Digital ethics officer · Educational technology · Higher education.
1 Introduction
The digital transformation has a comprehensive impact on organizations and their daily work. Ever-
improving data processing and algorithms present them with considerable ethical challenges, for
example with regard to data protection or possible discrimination through automated decision-
making. Data breaches in education [52], ethical issues with artificial intelligence [8], and scandals like
the mistakenly labeling of black people “gorillas” of Google [9] or the recent incident, where a 10 years
old girl was asked by Alexa (Amazon) to insert a coin into the socket [3] illustrates this.
Some organizations are addressing these issues with, among other measures, the establishment of
Ethics Officers (EO) [33,45,1,53,29], which have been occurring in the literature since the 1970s [44].
These may also occur in slight variations or specializations as, for example, Chief Ethics and Compliance
Officer (CECO) [28,7,53,16], Compliance Officer (CO) [35,37] or Chief AI Ethics Officer (CAIEO) [34]. In
a general sense, the EO is responsible for the ethical development of an organization [43,33,44]. The
tasks range from the creation of ethical guidelines and the enforcement and control of these, to
Preprint (Preliminary Version). Finally published as:
Andrews, D., Leitner, P., Schön, S., Ebner, M. (2022). Developing a Professional Profile of a Digital
Ethics Officer in an Educational Technology Unit in Higher Education. In: Zaphiris, P., Ioannou, A.
(eds) Learning and Collaboration Technologies. Designing the Learner and Teacher Experience. HCII
2022. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 13328. Springer, Cham.
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-05657-4_12
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employee training and the establishment of an ethical work culture [33,1,53,37,45]. This makes us
wonder whether an EO is also needed in higher education.
Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and their Educational Technology units, such as ours at Graz
University of Technology (TU Graz), are not immune to the challenges posed by digitalization. Teaching
and learning processes are increasingly taking place online. This results in new, digital ethical
challenges, which we did not face before. These can range from non-discriminatory access to content,
to a more diverse presentation in learning materials, all the way to the analysis of contextual data from
learning platforms for the creation of learning prognoses. For this reason, the Educational Technology
unit at Graz University of Technology thinks about whether and with which profile an EO could make
sense for us. It should be noted that our Educational Technology unit is primarily concerned with
technology-enhanced teaching issues and services to other units, rather than research issues. Research
ethics require other considerations and are usually already widely discussed at universities, which
comes with a plethora of frameworks, standards, and guidelines. Therefore, this paper focuses on
ethical issues in the aforementioned areas rather than those related to research.
The variants of an EO known so far are, for our purposes, either too generally responsible for the entire
ethical development of an organization (e.g. Ethics and Compliance Officer) or too specifically limited
to one aspect or technology (e.g. AI Ethics Officer). Since our main focus is on the ethical challenges
associated with the digital transformation of our work, in this paper we aim to explore and develop
the professional profile of a Digital Ethics Officer (DEO) in a higher education organizational unit
responsible for Educational Technology.
2 Research Questions, Related Research and Research Design
In the course of our exploration of the possible profile of an EO for the Educational Technology unit at
TU Graz, we found that this topic is currently not comprehensively addressed in the literature. For this
reason, our research questions follow a top-down approach: from the general role of an EO and the
measures used for the ethical development of an HEI, to the ethical challenges of Educational
Technology units, from which we want to develop a possible profile of a DEO.
2.1 Research Questions
The following four research questions are addressed in this paper:
1. What are the characteristics of an EO and what are their responsibilities for organizations?
2. What components of an ethics program are currently in place at a university of technology
using TU Graz as an example?
3. What ethical issues and needs for action arise in an Educational Technology unit at a HEI?
4. What is the professional profile of a (future) DEO in an Educational Technology unit in
higher education?
Research questions 1 to 3 take a descriptive approach, which are then used to prescriptively derive
answers to question 4.
2.2 Related Research
Research on professional profiles is executed in different ways. We did not find an overview of their
development, but numerous studies that pursued similar goals in different contexts. Lima et al. [42]
did for example a longitudinal study of nearly 1400 job advertisements for industrial and engineering
management (IEM) profiles from 2007 to 2013. With this approach the authors want to con-tribute to
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the definition of IEM professional profile by analyzing professional practice areas and counting the
mentions of transversal competences. An analysis of international (research) literature was the
selected approach of Brookes et al. [6] to describe the professional profile of community health nurses.
A different approach was chosen by Saldana et al. [49]: An online survey amongst 1427 ICU nursing
professionals is the base for the development of a professional profile of their profession.
Similarly, Ingram et al. [32] used a survey amongst community health workers to identify a common
set of professional characteristics, training preparation, and job activities. Beneath different data
sources - literature, job advertisements, survey results - researchers in the field of professional profile
development use different methods to analyze the data. Lima et al. [42] for example did qualitative
analysis and counted the term/category frequency for a simple descriptive statistical analysis. Others
apply complex multivariate analysis methods such as factor analysis [54].
The starting point for the present work is different: It is not about developing a professional profile for
a de facto existing profession, but about developing a profession that will (presumably) be needed in
the future. For example, Zsolnai and Tencati [57] aimed to develop a vision of a “future international
manager” with a collection of articles of colleagues about potential important characteristics and
competencies. Nevertheless, there is no standard procedure for the development of future
professional profiles. Therefore, we have developed a procedure that we would like to present in the
following.
2.3 Design and Methodology
This study was developed in three phases. At the beginning, the structure and design were determined.
Then, research questions 1 to 3 were addressed using desktop research and literature review. Relevant
literature was searched using scientific research portals, such as Google Scholar, SpringerLink and
Research-Gate. Keywords such as “ethics officer”, “digital ethics officer” or “ethics officer higher
education” were of particular interest. Also, the Journal of Business Ethics has been a valuable source
for literature.
Within research question 1, frequently occurring concepts were clustered by content in order to
collectively present characteristics and job responsibilities of an EO. For this purpose, relevant papers
were identified and searched for characteristics and responsibilities. Then the terms were grouped
according to similarity. After a manual semantic analysis, this resulted in overarching categories.
Answering question 2 involved mapping (non-)existing components of the ethics program at TU Graz
to those found in the literature. Furthermore, relevant persons and departments in our own
organization as well as the intranet of TU Graz were consulted to answer research questions 2 and 3.
For the answer to question 3, the knowledge of the unit head and his deputy was used in particular.
The final phase involved consolidation in addressing question 4 on the professional profile of a future
DEO. For this purpose, the structure of a job description of TU Graz was adapted for a possible new
position of a DEO. The job description was developed from the results of the research questions 1 to
3 and from discussions with the unit management. In the following, the four research questions are
addressed in order.
3 Characteristics and Responsibilities of an Ethics Officer
In order to develop the future profile of a DEO, we strived to better understand what qualities an EO
should possess and what his or her job responsibilities in general might be.
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As a first step, we took a closer look at the role and traits that an EO should have. To do this, we
searched the literature for contributions describing characteristics of an EO. This allowed us to select
the following four papers with designated descriptions of an EO: Izraeli and BarNir [33], Adobor [1],
Llopis et al. [43], as well as Hogenbirk and van Dun [30].
After clustering by meaning, we were able to summarize the characteristics of an EO mentioned by the
authors in Table 1. The specified properties were taken directly from the respective papers. We then
could identify four overarching categories: professional management, independent actions, working
knowledge and ethical expertise.
Professional management describes an EO’s ability to respond appropriately and professionally in any
situation and refers to both work attitude and soft skills. Independent actions refers to the status of
the EO within an organization, in which he or she should be as independent as possible and capable of
acting. In order to fulfill his or her role, the EO should, on the one hand, know the professional concerns
of his or her organization and therefore have working knowledge. On the other hand, the EO also
should have experienced the necessary ethical training and serve as a moral role model, thus having
concise ethical expertise.
Table 1: Overview of characteristics of EOs in selected sources. Own analysis based on the referred literature. Note:
Capitalisation has been slightly adjusted.
Source
Professional
management
Independent actions
Working knowledge
Ethical expertise
Izraeli &
BarNir [33]
Professionalism
Insider status;
Independence
Knowledge of
organizational issues
Knowledge of ethics
theory
Adobor [1]
Tolerance of ambiguity;
Individual orientation and
leadership behaviour
Locus of control
Business knowledge;
Technical knowledge
Moral character
Llopis et al.
[43]
Personal and professional
maturity;
Rationality in tense
interpersonal situations;
Solid, broad management
skills;
Common sense;
Discreet and able to
protect confidential
information
Strong
communicators;
Ability to establish and
maintain credibility
and trust throughout
the organisation;
Ability to quickly
assimilate information
relating to complex
issues;
Ability to network on
all levels
of an organisation;
Able and willing to
take a
difficult or unpopular
position if necessary
Deep organisational
knowledge;
Working knowledge of
applicable laws and
regulations
Objective and
thoughtful;
Experience with
training and
development
including best
practices in
ethics and
compliance
education;
Always show the
highest integrity
Hogenbirk &
van Dun [30]
Conscientiousness;
Openness to experience
In a second step, we did the same to find out what responsibilities EOs usually (should) have according
to the literature. From the literature review, we filtered out papers with dedicated descriptions to the
task areas of an EO. This results in the selection of the following five contributions: Izraeli and BarNir
[33], Morf et al. [45], Adobor [1], Trevino et al. [53] and Kaptein [37].
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Table 2 shows the responsibilities found in the relevant literature, whereby the mentioned properties
were taken directly from the respective papers. Clustering allowed us to identify five broad areas of
responsibility for an EO: ethical guidelines, control activities, ethics training, ethical culture and
advising management.
Table 2. Overview of responsibilities of EOs in selected sources. Own analysis based on the referred literature. Note:
Capitalisation has been slightly adjusted.
Source
Ethical guidelines
Control activities
Ethical culture
Advising
management
Izraeli &
BarNir
[33]
Monitoring
compliance with the
codes;
Taking remedial
action in case of
inappropriate
behavior by
members of the
organization
Advising
management on
the development
of codes
Morf et
al. [45]
Creating and
maintaining a
company’s
guiding values,
principles, and
business practices
Evaluating the
company’s
adherence to its
formal ethics code;
Investigating alleged
violations of the law
Advising top
management as to
various moral and
ethical issues
Adobor
[1]
Manage
compliance
Investigative
oversight;
Manage compliance
Corporate social
responsibility
Advise top
management
Trevino
et al.
[53]
Developing and
distributing codes
of conduct
Developing and
managing reporting
lines and
investigation
systems
Working to create
ethical cultures
and climates;
Legitimacy work
Contributing to the
design of
performance
management
systems
Kaptein
[37]
Accountability
policies;
Code of ethics
Investigation and
correction policies;
Monitoring and
auditing;
Ethics report line
Incentive policies
An EO should play a significant role in determining the ethical direction of an organization, which
includes developing ethical guidelines often in the form of a code or policy. Control activities refers to
the need to monitor, investigate, and respond appropriately to potentially unethical behaviors within
an organization, all to ensure that ethical principles do not only exist on paper. To promote ethical
behavior and prevent unethical behavior, another task of the EO is ethics training within the workforce.
By establishing an ethical culture within the organization, ethical behavior can be further normalized
and made visible to the outside world. The EO is the central point of contact for ethical issues, which
top management in particular should have recourse to, which is why advising management is one of
the five areas of responsibility.
Based on our analysis, we can see that the requirements for EOs are complex and individually
demanding. This is also due to the fact that the tasks of an EO extend deep into the structures of an
organization, even to the point of completely changing established ways of working. Accordingly, the
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installation of this position requires great commitment and trust from the management so that the EO
is not hindered by potential conflicts of interest [1,29,55]. Otherwise, the EO could find him or herself
in a constant struggle for legitimacy and ultimately represent nothing more than ethics washing [53].
Some research indicates that installing ethics programs and establishing an EO reduces unethical
behavior in organizations [37,48], especially when relying on innovative methods [30], though more
research is certainly needed here. Based on the preceding analysis, the increased visibility of ethical
efforts, the benefits of a one-stop shop for ethical concerns, and the need to address these challenges,
we believe that EOs have a high chance to increase ethical behavior in organizations.
4 Components of a Current Ethics Program at a Technical University
In order to better understand the potential uses of an EO in issues of technology-enhanced teaching
in higher education, we first want to investigate what measures to promote ethical behavior already
are in place. For this purpose, we analyzed our own organization at TU Graz, for such components. In
an empirical study, Kaptein [37,36] identifies eight components of ethics programs that directly or
indirectly lead to less unethical behavior within organizations, while suggesting the following order of
implementation: (1) code of ethics, (2) ethics training and communication, (3) accountability policies,
(4) monitoring and auditing, (5) investigation and correction policies, (6) an ethics office(r), (7) ethics
report line, and (8) incentive policies. To determine which components already are installed, the
intranet of the university was searched on the one hand and relevant employees were contacted on
the other. Whereupon these insights were matched with Kaptein’s components (Table 3).
Table 3. Components of the ethics program of TU Graz. Meaning of the characters:
not fulfilled,
partly fulfilled,
fulfilled.
Component
Fulfillment level
Equivalent at TU Graz
(1) Code of Ethics
(2) Ethics Training and
Communication
(3) Accountability Policies
Code of Conduct
(4) Monitoring and Auditing
(5) Investigation and Correction
Policies
~
Commission for Scientific Integrity and
Ethics
(6) Ethics Office(r)
~
Commission for Scientific Integrity and
Ethics
(7) Ethics Report Line
Whistleblowing Webpage
(8) Incentive Policies
In the year 2008, TU Graz implemented an “ethics code” [24] to commit its students and staff to
scientific conduct. However, this code is limited to scientific work and does not contain any general
ethical values or principles, for which it was also criticized by the student representation [2]. Therefore,
we do not consider the component (1) code of ethics in the sense of Kaptein to be fulfilled. We also
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could not find a corresponding implementation for components (2) ethics training and communication,
(4) monitoring and auditing and (8) incentive policies.
TU Graz operates a Commission for Scientific Integrity and Ethics [19], which is mainly composed of
faculty members. Its main task is to advise about and investigate scientific misconduct. However, it is
only active upon request and does not actively shape the ethical orientation of the university, which is
why we consider it too passive to be considered a full equivalent of (5) investigation and correction
policies and (6) ethics office.
Furthermore, TU Graz has published a code of conduct [27] corresponding to component (3)
accountability policies and a whistleblowing website [20] corresponding to the (7) ethics report line.
Apart from the components just mentioned, there is a Science, Technology and Society Unit (STS) [21]
at TU Graz. However, this unit is primarily dedicated to research and teaching in the area of the social
impact of technology and not so much to the internal development of the university. This is why it
does not appear in the matching of Kaptein’s com-ponents, but it could be an important building block
in the future development of TU Graz’s ethical efforts. In addition, TU Graz has set up a sustainability
advisory board, which, for example, strives to establish a sustainability strategy and advises the
rectorate in these matters [22].
Our analysis shows that there is room for improvement with regard to the ethics program at TU Graz.
In our experience, however, we assume that this is not much different at many other European
universities and especially technical universities, as priorities have been set differently so far. Although
there are also critics to the introduction of EOs at universities [4] and Kaptein [37] proposes them later
in the sequence (for economic reasons), we think that EOs could directly make an impact as they would
bundle the implementation of these components [55]. However, care must be taken that this
commitment would be deeply embedded in the culture of the university for it to be effective, as Weber
[55] recommends after implementing an ethics program in his academic unit.
5 Ethical Issues and Needs for Action Arising in an Educational
Technology Unit at a Higher Education Institution
TU Graz is constantly pursuing new, modern and innovative paths in teaching and learning and tries to
support these in particular through digital technologies. The organizational unit Educational
Technology was established in 2005 as a working group for this purpose, becoming a separate
organizational unit in 2015. Since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 [12], it has been classified as system
critical and currently employs twelve full-time equivalent staff and a few more dozen project staff
(January 2022). In addition to the technical challenges, a wide range of media-didactic and media-
pedagogical measures are additionally taken into account. The successive expansion of online teaching
is strategically anchored in order to enable flexible and target group-oriented studying at the university
of tomorrow. Therefore, digital education at TU Graz is now taken for granted and increasingly
corresponds to the natural use of teaching and learning technologies for any purpose. The scope of
the organizational unit Educational Technology of TU Graz includes among others the enhancement of
face-to-face teaching and learning activities with the help of digital technologies, the development of
new applications and technologies and of course to foster also the pure online teaching and learning.
Strategically, the unit is the main driver of digital transformation of learning and teaching at TU Graz
[11].
A large field of activity is the operation of online platforms. The unit operates the learning management
system TeachCenter, which is based on Moodle, the first and so far only MOOC platform in Austria,
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iMooX [10,31], as well as the university’s own video portal TUbe [23] with the possibility of streaming
lectures live or making videos available for viewing. What these online platforms have in common is
that they enable the collection of a wide variety of data about their users. Potential ethical fields of
action range from how students are tracked to barrier-free access and the universal design of these.
TU Graz has committed itself to climate neutrality by 2030 [18], whereby video portals especially
consume a lot of energy and therefore have an environmentally critical component. The fundamental
question for all platforms is how they can best be used to promote education.
The establishment of the above-mentioned platforms further enables the use of the collected data for
learning and academic analytics. Learning analytics in-volves the analysis, presentation, and
interpretation of data from teaching and learning settings for the purpose of enabling learners to
directly transform their learning [40]. Among other things, the unit is developing dashboards for
various target groups, from students to deans of studies. In the case of students, this should provide
insights into their own performance, and for deans, into the functioning of study programs. Special
attention must be paid to how sensitive data is handled so that the privacy and autonomy needs of
students are taken seriously and they do not degenerate into vitreous students [41], but rather
perceive these services as empowered demanders [17]. Slade and Tait [51] mention other ethical
challenges in learning analytics, such as transparency, data ownership and control, consent,
accessibility of data, communication, institutional responsibility and obligation to act, or inclusion,
among others. In general, careful consideration is needed between the goal of providing the best
possible education and the influence that can be exerted on students through analysis and its
presentation. Last but not least, learning analytics also places great organizational demands on
universities [50].
Another relatively new task is to provide e-assessment tools. Here, the organizational unit Educational
Technology operates Knowledge CheckR [38] for digital exams with the possibility to automatically
monitor students and, if necessary, report them to the supervisor. In addition, exams can be
administered via the TeachCenter platform using TeachCenter Exam. Particularly controversial is the
automated observation of students via their webcams, which raises some ethical questions of privacy
and trust issues, and possibly even human dignity. In addition, the safety and robustness of the system
must be granted to ensure flawless and tamper-proof examination [13].
A further area of responsibility is the production of video material. The organizational unit Educational
Technology helps teachers with the recording and streaming of lectures, as well as with the creation
of didactic explanatory videos. In video production, issues of diversity and non-discrimination have
become increasingly important, especially in recent times. This involves a diverse and gender-neutral
representation of people in the videos and didactic methods with a focus on all target groups, as well
as barrier-free access, for example through subtitles or the consideration of color blindness.
The organizational unit Educational Technology is the first point of contact within the university when
it comes to support in didactic matters, continuing education and Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL)
counseling. An important project within these tasks is TELucation [5], which can be seen as an over-all
concept for the empowerment of teachers for creative, technology-supported teaching. In 2020, the
TU Graz [25] has published its Open Educational Re-sources (OER) policy, where the unit is responsible
for. Nearly all resources of the unit are published under open licenses. OER consulting, OER further
education and an OER repository [39] are some of the related activities. Within OER, copyright issues
and the question of how to ensure free access in a fair way often arise. TELucation is based on OER
and asks the question how learning designs can be created in a learner-centered, diverse and gender-
sensitive way and how education can be promoted in the best possible way.
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Although the organizational unit Educational Technology is operated primarily as a service facility, it
also conducts research projects in the field of teaching and learning technologies. Frequent ethical
issues arise from the handling of potentially sensitive learner data, such as if underagers are involved
[46] or usage of external students’ marks for MOOC evaluation [14].
In 2019, the High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI HLEG), established by the EU
Commission, published a highly regarded document on “Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI” [15].
Their goal is to set up a framework for the development of trustworthy AI. To this end, the group was
able to establish four overarching ethical principles: respect for human autonomy, prevention of harm,
fairness and explicability. Starting from these, they develop their framework more and more
concretely to seven key requirements and finally an assessment list. The seven key requirements are:
1. human agency and oversight, 2. technical robustness and safety, 3. privacy and data governance, 4.
transparency, 5. diversity, non-discrimination and fairness, 6. environmental and societal well-being
and 7. accountability. For a detailed description of the key requirements, the previously mentioned AI
HLEG document [15] can be consulted. Although the AI HLEG developed this framework specifically for
AI applications, we believe that these basic principles are also applicable to other digital technologies,
which is why we want to use the key requirements to guide our listing of ethical challenges. Figure 1
shows a non-exhaustive selection of our unit’s activities with a mapping to ethical issues and to the
aforementioned key requirements. It should be noted that when assigning the key requirements, only
those that are particularly clearly affected were selected, since many requirements can often be
reflected to a small degree. The ethical issues listed are a selection of particularly prominent issues
that we have derived from the analysis of our activities and our daily work.
Fig. 1. Mapping of the areas of activity of the Educational Technology unit to ethical issues and key requirements of the AI
HLEG.
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The present result illustrates the diverse questions and areas of activity of the organizational unit
Educational Technology. These are only an excerpt, and the individual challenges require more in-
depth analyses. Dealing with these some-times very critical ethical issues is often left directly to the
employees involved, who in many cases have not received any ethical training. One example is the
handling of tracking data from learning management systems. What data should be collected? How
and for how long should it be stored? Which data analyses are permissible? How can this data be used
for the best possible benefit? Leaving employees alone to deal with these issues can result in
overwhelm and indifference. This is precisely where the installation of an EO could come into play and
serve as a central point of contact and for steering ethical concerns. In summary, we see that the unit
“Educational Technology” faces a variety of recurring and pressing ethical challenges on the one hand,
and a desire to advance ideas such as ethics by design and responsible innovation [8] on the other.
Therefore, we believe that addressing them could be better guided by an explicit EO.
Among all the aspects and developments mentioned, two topics have been dis-cussed particularly
intensively or time-consumingly with an ethical focus in the last two years: One is proctoring in e-
assessment during pure distance learning phases. In particular, the (planned) use of a tool that uses
artificial intelligence-based proctoring (Knowledge CheckR) was a topic [47]. Secondly, the
development of a learning analytics application for better personal visualization and monitoring of
one’s own study progress led to some discussions about access to and inclusion of data. Finally, the
decision was made to make it available only to students and not to teachers or others, and to use only
information that is already accessible to them [41].
6 A Draft of a Professional Profile of a Digital Ethics Officer
In the field of technical employees there is already long experience with job descriptions at universities
[56]. Typically, job descriptions are prepared or adapted by the job holder or supervisor, also in
consultation with Human Resource (HR) professionals. For job advertisements at TU Graz, the HR
department collects information like job title, organizational unit, specific authorities, objective of the
position, areas of responsibility, professional qualification and personal requirements in a form for this
purpose [26]. For a practical application, we develop the professional profile of a DEO as a job
description based on this information (see Figure 2). It was derived from the findings of research
questions 1 through 3 and discussions with the unit Educational Technology management.
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Fig. 2. Job description of a DEO in an Educational Technology unit in a HEI.
It was determined that with the current size of the unit, it is unlikely to fill a full-time position with this
role. Therefore, the following two scenarios are likely: either the position will be co-supervised by an
EO who is also active in other units, for example, or the position will be filled internally with additional
duties. The description of the areas of responsibility provides a rough orientation and is additionally
fed by the ethical requirements of the organizational unit Fig. 2. Job description of a DEO in an
Educational Technology unit in a HEI.
Educational Technology. In the face of multifaceted technologies, we believe it is important for a future
DEO to have experienced technical education as well. This makes communication and practical work
with the technicians involved easier. The required ethical training can be provided, for example, as
part of additional training or a university degree.
7 (Summary and) Discussion
This paper developed a possible professional profile of a DEO at an Educational Technology unit of an
HEI. First, the responsibilities and characteristics of EOs in general were examined. Four characteristics
were extracted from the literary analysis: professional management, independent actions, working
knowledge and ethical expertise. In addition, five broad areas of responsibility were identified: ethical
guidelines, control activities, ethics training, ethical culture and advising management. This analysis
shows us that EOs can influence the ethical orientation of an organization in various different aspects.
The literature was selected by desktop research using keywords. This selection may be incomplete and
reflect only part of the available literature. The clustering of related concepts from the literature
contributions was a manual and subjective process, which naturally would have allowed for alternative
results. Nevertheless, we think that the concepts found cover a wide range and are useful for better
understanding the concept of an EO as a whole and is a valuable first step.
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The second step was to examine our university for the presence of components of an ethics program.
Using Kaptein’s suggested ethics components, it was determined that there is room for improvement
in the university’s overall ethical efforts. From this finding, we were able to conclude that a dedicated
DEO position at our subunit might make sense and could be the starting point of further efforts in this
direction. Kaptein’s ethics components were presented by him primarily with regard to business
organizations. The question arises to what extent they are also applicable to HEIs. In our view, they
provide a useful overview of possible parts of an ethics program, although they should not be
understood as absolute and final. Furthermore, organizations can operate well and ethically without
having these components installed, and they can have them implemented and still fail on ethical issues.
Thus, these are neither necessary, nor sufficient, but certainly improve the visibility of ethical efforts.
Third, we looked at what ethical challenges arise at our Educational Technology unit as a result of the
digitization of teaching. In doing so, we have assigned particularly salient ethical problems in a figure
to the overarching areas of activity of the unit and the ethical key requirements of the AI HLEG. The
areas include: online platforms, e-assessment, learning and academic analytics, video production, TEL
counseling and research. Particularly pressing issues arose in proctoring in e-assessment and how to
monitor students in online exams on the one hand, and data collection and processing on online
platforms in the context of learning analytics on the other. These examples in particular show some
very sensitive issues, which up to now have mainly been left to the employees involved. Here, the
position of the DEO could have a decisive influence. The ethical challenges presented in this chapter
are only a sample of all the activities of the Educational Technology unit. Moreover, they are
formulated in relatively general terms for the sake of simplicity and must be considered in a much
more complex and multi-layered manner in individual cases. In addition, the areas of responsibility and
the associated problem areas change rapidly, as was impressively demonstrated not least by the covid-
19 pandemic [47] and the sudden need for online examinations.
Finally, we thought about what the position of a DEO for our Educational Technology unit might look
like. To do this, we packaged the previous findings and our requirements for this person into a job
description. It turned out that for our case a full-time position is unlikely and the position could be, for
example, filled internally with the tasks of the DEO being done in addition. Therefore, it seems
particularly important that this person brings technical knowledge as a priority and additionally an
ethical qualification. Clearly, one weakness of this job description is its hypothetical nature. Individual
needs and thus job requirements can and certainly will change through practical experience. However,
the development of this professional profile is intended to provide some initial guidance on what to
look for in this position. Although we tried to include general considerations, the present description
is tailored to the requirements and needs of our Educational Technology unit and can therefore only
be adopted to a limited extent for other units of HEIs.
The most critical question we faced was whether there is actually a need for a separate EO and then a
DEO in particular? The fact that our ethical needs relate to the digital use of teaching and learning
technologies and not to research work, as is usually the case in large parts of universities, makes a
differentiated con-sideration necessary. Precisely because we must face specific ethical problems of
digital teaching, we believe that our Educational Technology unit would benefit from filling the position
of a DEO at the university. A university-wide EO might also lead to an improvement, but it would be
expected that this EO would not be able to deal with these specific problems in detail, since this
position would have to be very broadly positioned and cover many different areas, including the
important area of research ethics or the general ethical development of the university. Since this topic
only became relevant to us through the widespread use of digital technology and the opportunities it
offers, we believe that a focus on the digital aspects makes sense. This would allow the DEO to be
selected and deployed in a targeted manner. Ideally, this DEO would then be part of a university-wide
13
ethics board with the overarching position of a Chief Ethics Officer. For this position to succeed, beyond
a qualified individual, it also requires management commitment to it [1], otherwise EOs are just as
likely to face legitimacy challenges within their organization [53]. As a result, this position could not
prove its worth and would be doomed to failure. Furthermore, the impact of a DEO is difficult to
measure and its potential benefits are therefore subject to doubt [53,30]. It is also in the realm of
possibility that a DEO is too cumbersome in practice and that invested resources would have been
better spent directly on employee training or other approaches to improve ethical efforts.
8 Outlook
Based on this paper, the potential need of a dedicated DEO in our Educational Technology unit will be
further evaluated. A possible introduction will depend on many factors, such as the will of the
management, the urgency of the ethical challenges and, last but not least, financial and organizational
resources. The work presented here represents a starting point, and further research projects may
subsequently arise, for example on the concrete implementation, evaluation of the benefits or possible
unfulfilled expectations of a DEO.
Acknowledgements. Contributions and development were partly delivered within the project
“Learning Analytics: Effects of data analysis on learning success” (01/2020-12/2021) with TU Graz and
University of Graz as partners and the Province of Styria as funding body (12. Zukunftsfonds
Steiermark). We would also like to thank Armin Spök and Günter Getzinger from the Science,
Technology and Society Unit at TU Graz for their helpful comments and feedback on our work.
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Durch die COVID-19-Pandemie und die damit einhergehende Schließung der Universitäten waren ab dem Sommersemester 2020 aber fast alle Lehrenden der TU Graz gezwungen, ihre Prüfungen in den virtuellen Raum zu verlagern. Dieses Entwicklungspapier soll einerseits den Stand der Forschung wiedergeben, andererseits einen Überblick darüber geben, welche Strategien und Tools an anderen (Technischen) Universitäten international bzw. national eingesetzt werden. Außerdem wird aufgezeigt, welche Arten der Leistungsfeststellung bisher schon an der TU Graz eingesetzt werden und welche Tools dafür in Verwendung sind. Abschließend wird auf zu beachtende Kriterien und mögliche Entwicklungen im Bereich von E-Assessment eingegangen.
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