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

Claudio Alvarez*, Gustavo Zurita, Nelson Baloian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1373-1391
Number of pages19
JournalPersonal and Ubiquitous Computing
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature.


  • CSCL script
  • Ethics Education
  • Implicit HCI


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