Conversation Ethics for Online Learning Communities

Conversation Ethics for Online Learning Communities

Rocci Luppicini (University of Ottawa, Canada)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-867-3.ch008
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Abstract

There is growing recognition of the important role of conversation ethics in open and distance learning systems, particularly within online learning communities. Fostering ethical conversational practices in online learning poses a serious challenge within education. This chapter introduces key concepts and strategies to help guide online learning communities. The aim of the chapter is threefold: (1) to provide an overview of key concepts and strategies underlying conversation ethics, (2) to identify key elements of conversation ethics for online learning communities, and (3) to offer practical suggestions for leveraging online learning communities through increased attention to conversation ethics. This chapter is based on the assumption that an understanding of conversation ethics can offer instructors and learners a tool for advancing learning within online learning communities.
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Background

Challenges

The advancement of the Internet and supporting information and communication technologies (ICT) has created a number of unintended problems and challenges that deter many users from communicating online. First, the Internet has served as a conduit for criminal activity with a strong social impact (Wall, 2005). For instance, Holt and Graves (2007) conducted a qualitative analysis of advance fee fraud e-mail schemes and found a variety of writing techniques used to generate responses and information from victims. In another area, Finch (2007) explored the problem of stolen identity using the Internet. The newly created International Journal of Cyber Criminology is focused entirely on emerging areas of cyber-crime research, including cyber-terrorism, cyber-stalking, and online gambling. Second, the use of Internet within educational contexts has created additional challenges for online instructors and administrators such as online cheating, cyber-harassment, and cyber-bullying. Shariff and Hoff (2007) addressed the problem of cyber-bullying in schools highlighting the legal boundaries for school supervision online. Beran and Li (2005) focused on cyber-harassment issues that can arise within online educational environments. In another area, Underwood (2003) examined serious academic offenses connected to e-learning including online cheating and Internet plagiarism that can lead to student expulsion. Moreover, online learners and instructors must contend with evolving intellectual property and fair use policies governing information communication and ownership (DeGeorge, 2006). There are also communication privacy and confidentiality issues that affect online communication and information exchange (Rotenberg, 1998). This body of work raises public attention to the risks and challenges involved in communicating online. It also suggests that a framework is needed to help reduce online risk and guide communications within online learning environments.

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