Ethical Conflicts in Research on Networked Education Contexts

Ethical Conflicts in Research on Networked Education Contexts

Terry D. Anderson (Athabasca University, Canada) and Heather P. Kanuka (Athabasca University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-867-3.ch009
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The emergent world of network-based education creates challenges for researchers who wish to further our understanding of the opportunities and limitations while acting ethically in relation with learners, educators, and educational institutions. Existing ethical guidelines and practices were developed in place bound contexts in which privacy, safety, consent, ownership, and confidentiality were exposed and protected in many different ways than that found in networked contexts. This chapter addresses these and other ethical concerns that arise when doing educational search on the net. This chapter is designed to help researchers understand the evolving ethics of research in net-mediated educational contexts. It concludes that researchers need to be prepared to innovate beyond the dictates of often dated ethical guidelines and to act as intelligent and responsible professionals.
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The net changes everything - Variously attributed, Dot Com Era

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and to commonweal, our governance will emerge.

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace - John Perry Barlow, 1996



Ebullient claims like those above give rise to a sense that the global electronic network has changed the ways in which we interact and that we need a new set of ethos and ethics to guide those activities, including research activities. The net has been instrumental in re-engineering large components of our lives, from commerce to education, and from entertainment to vocation. As both researchers and educators, we have felt these effects with resulting concern, misconception and uncertainty when our research stretches and flexes our current ethical understandings. There are many ethical dilemmas that educational researchers face when conducting studies that are based upon or make extensive use of the Internet resources, communities or conversations. These ethical dilemmas are not unique to our research in the field of education. Indeed, within the field of social sciences, clashes, conflicts and heated debates have been ongoing for over 2 decades among researchers because existing codes of practice are failing to provide appropriate and workable guidelines for Internet-based research. Upon examination of the literature on ethical issues relating to Internet-based research, we conclude that there are three main reasons for confusion and uncertainty among researchers in the field of education. These issues include participant consent, public vs. private ownership and confidentiality and anonymity. Our discussion in this chapter revolves around these issues.

The use of the Internet effects research in the field of education in two distinct ways. First, it provides a new educational context or learning environment, such as a completely virtual education institution (e.g., virtual school or university, or private training organization) or augmentation of classroom-based schooling (so called blended-learning) with network mediated activities. This new environment supports the traditional interactions between and among students, instructors and content (although they are, by definition, mediated) but it often extends these communications to span boundaries of space, time and relationship. The new environment also supports the creation and operation of student, teacher and content agents (Anderson & Whitelock, 2004) that act autonomously on behalf of their owners while traversing the “semantic Web” (Berners-Lee, Hendler, & Lassila, 2001). The Internet is also used to create virtual learning environments (e.g., learning contexts build in SecondLife and Active Worlds) in which the physical laws of nature can be transcended.

In such novel environments, it is firstly no surprise that ethical laws and norms developed for face-to-face interaction may also be transcended or suspended. All of these contextual changes create very complicated sets of personal and impersonal interaction within an educational realm and the broader social domain. Secondly, the Internet is used to create research tools through which researchers can study, measure and observe both networked and real world activities. For example, WebCams, listening devices, Web mining tools and other forms of Web-enhanced monitoring tools and input devices, allow the researcher to continuously monitor and study real time (as well as asynchronous) activities happening anywhere on the globe. These data collecting devices may be visible and obtrusive, but they are as likely to be covertly hidden or hidden by a subject’s sense of familiarity, challenging our sense of privacy and aloneness.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Alan Tait
Ugur Demiray, Ramesh C. Sharma
Ugur Demiray, Ramesh C. Sharma
Chapter 1
Ugur Demiray, Ramesh C. Sharma
Education is intimately connected with ethics, because holistically speaking education is more than simply passing examinations and acquiring... Sample PDF
Ethical Practices and Implications in Distance Education: An Introduction
Chapter 2
Michael F. Beaudoin
Launching and sustaining innovative new academic programs is typically a complex enterprise, especially distance education projects, and more... Sample PDF
Ethical Conundrums in Distance Education Partnerships
Chapter 3
Paul Kawachi
This chapter presents the desirable interactions involved in teaching and learning at a distance. In these interactions, there are considerable... Sample PDF
Ethics in Interactions in Distance Education
Chapter 4
J. S. Dorothy, Ugur Demiray, Ramesh C. Sharma, Ashwini Kumar
In an era when the distance teaching institution, irrespective of their type, namely single mode, dual mode, mixed mode and consortium, is involved... Sample PDF
Ethics in the Ambit of Distance Education
Chapter 5
Dele Braimoh, Jonathan Ohiorenuan Osiki
The current process of democratizing education has inevitably led to the explosive demands by the citizens of the different countries for... Sample PDF
Creating a Firewall Against Unethical Behaviours in Open and Distance Education Practice
Chapter 6
Glenn Russell
Some of the more important ethical concerns associated with open and distance learning are not those that may be faced by learners. Instead, the... Sample PDF
Ethical Concerns with Open and Distance Learning
Chapter 7
Deb Gearhart
Are our students prepared to use technology ethically? This is a question of concern to this author and addressed in this chapter. Experience as the... Sample PDF
Preparing Students for Ethical Use of Technology: A Case Study for Distance Education
Chapter 8
Rocci Luppicini
There is growing recognition of the important role of conversation ethics in open and distance learning systems, particularly within online learning... Sample PDF
Conversation Ethics for Online Learning Communities
Chapter 9
Terry D. Anderson, Heather P. Kanuka
The emergent world of network-based education creates challenges for researchers who wish to further our understanding of the opportunities and... Sample PDF
Ethical Conflicts in Research on Networked Education Contexts
Chapter 10
Michael Sankey, Rod St. Hill
The changing nature of distance education in the higher education context is investigated in this chapter, particularly in relation to... Sample PDF
The Ethics of Designing for Multimodality: Empowering Nontraditional Learners
Chapter 11
Shalin Hai-Jew
This chapter examines the importance of cultural sensitivity and localization in the delivery of global e-learning. The branding, course ecology... Sample PDF
Why "Cultural Sensitivities" and "Localizations" in Global E-Learning?
Chapter 12
Ormond Simpson
The increasing multiculturalism in its society has recently encouraged the study of ethical dimensions in higher education in the UK. Distance and... Sample PDF
Open to People, Open with People: Ethical Issues in Open Learning
Chapter 13
Chi Lo Lim
Open and distance learning systems (ODLS) brought about immeasurable advancement in the delivery of education. Albeit all the benefits ODLS offers... Sample PDF
An American Perspective of Ethical Misconduct in ODLS: Who's to Blame?
Chapter 14
Patrick J. Fahy
Ethics review of research involving humans is intended to protect human dignity by balancing harms and benefits. The foci and methods used in... Sample PDF
Ethics Review Concerns of Canada's Distance Researchers
Chapter 15
Judy Nagy
This chapter discusses the globalisation of education and the challenges and opportunities arising from technologies that can impact cheating... Sample PDF
Market Forces in Higher Education: Cheating and the Student-Centred Learning Paradigm
Chapter 16
Leslie Farmer
Case studies provide an authentic way to teach ethical behavior through critical analysis and decisionmaking because it reveals nuanced factors in... Sample PDF
Using Real Case Studies to Teach Ethics Collaboratively to Library Media Teachers
Chapter 17
Tina J. Parscal, Peter Bemski
This qualitative case study was designed to determine the extent to which a framework for exploring ethical principles for online facilitation is... Sample PDF
Preparing Faculty to Integrate Ethics into Online Facilitation
Chapter 18
Yavuz Akbulut, H. Ferhan Odabasi, Abdullah Kuzu
This chapter focuses on academic work on computer ethics conducted at a computer education department in Turkey. The chapter starts with the... Sample PDF
Computer Ethics: Scenes from a Computer Education Department in Turkey
Chapter 19
Donna Harper, Petra Luck
The aim of this chapter is to investigate ethical issues such as individual integrity and rights affecting online students who are Early Years... Sample PDF
Ethical Practice and Online Learning—A Contradiction? A Case Study
Chapter 20
Carmel McNaught, David M. Kennedy
This chapter is an essay about a new ethical problem that has become apparent to us in recent years. Bilingual plagiarism is the act of passing off... Sample PDF
Bilingual Plagiarism in the Academic World
Chapter 21
Ugur Demiray, Ramesh C. Sharma
The changing dimensions of distance education methodologies, new roles of distance teachers, and learners and use of modern communication... Sample PDF
Ethical Practices and Implications in Distance Education: Lessons Learned
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