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Applying the concept of implicit HCI to a groupware environment for teaching ethics

A Correction to this article was published on 31 January 2021

This article has been updated


Implicit HCI is about computers understanding the intentions and needs of the user and proactively triggering functions or adapting the interface to help users achieve their goals. In ubiquitous learning environments, this could mean that the software and hardware settings make relevant learning material available to students; activate proper learning environments, like collaborative authoring tools and/or chatting spaces; find most suitable peers for collaborative learning; etc., at the right time or place. In this research, we report on an experience in which we added implicit HCI to an existing application that supports ethics education called EthicApp. Successful methodologies supporting ethics education include students discussing real-life or simulated cases where ethical dilemmas are presented. It is important that students actively participate in the discussion in order to develop their key abilities for ethical discernment. EthicApp implements a methodology in which students read about a case that presents an ethical dilemma, report on their personal stance about it, and then discuss their opinions anonymously in a small group, and then with the whole class. We included an automatic mechanism of group formation in order to maximize discussion and active participation among the students. For this, we first compared two strategies of forming groups: one random and another maximizing the differences of individual students’ judgments about the presented case within each group. We found that the second strategy was the most appropriate to encourage participation. As a result, EthicApp was modified in order to implicitly generate groups with diverging ethical judgments.

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  • 31 January 2021

    A Correction to this paper has been published: <ExternalRef><RefSource></RefSource><RefTarget Address="10.1007/s00779-021-01528-1" TargetType="DOI"/></ExternalRef>


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This research was funded by CONICYT Fondecyt Initiation into Research grant 11160211, and Fondecyt Regular grant 1161200.

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Correspondence to Claudio Alvarez.

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The original online version of this article was revised: In the original document, the affiliation of Dr. Nelson Baloian (4) was written as: Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile However, as his institution let us know, the correct way of naming it is: Department of Computer Science, Universidad de Chile, Beauchef 851, Santiago, Chile

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Alvarez, C., Zurita, G. & Baloian, N. Applying the concept of implicit HCI to a groupware environment for teaching ethics. Pers Ubiquit Comput (2021).

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  • Implicit HCI
  • CSCL script
  • Ethics Education