The Ethics of Designing for Multimodality: Empowering Nontraditional Learners

The Ethics of Designing for Multimodality: Empowering Nontraditional Learners

Michael Sankey (University of Southern Queensland, Australia) and Rod St. Hill (University of Southern Queensland, Australia)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-867-3.ch010
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The changing nature of distance education in the higher education context is investigated in this chapter, particularly in relation to “massification” and the ethics involved in delivering technology enhanced courses to an increasingly diverse student body. Institutions may have developed policies in response to this, but it would seem that few academics have a coherent way of adhering to them. In addition, there is significant research suggesting that reliance on text-based instruction may disadvantage some students. This chapter draws on four case studies, emanating from recent research, demonstrating that higher levels of student engagement are possible when course materials are designed to cater for students with different approaches to learning. This chapter also suggests a more ethical approach to developing courses is a two-phased approach: 1) integrating a range of multimodal learning and teaching strategies; and 2) giving students the opportunity to discover their preferred approach to learning.
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This chapter investigates issues relating to the changing nature of providing higher educational course materials via distance education, particularly in the context of the ethics involved in delivering these courses via technology-enhanced environments. Over recent years, there has been an increasing tendency, due to the advances in learning management system (LMS) technology, to shift the delivery of course materials from printed to electronic form. However, at the same time there has also been a significant increase in the percentage of nontraditional learners entering universities, particularly over the last decade, many of whom are choosing to study by distance education (Schuetze & Slowey, 2002). These technological and societal changes affecting higher education at a global level led Professor Jim Taylor in his keynote address at the ICDE World Conference on Open and Distance Learning in February 2004 to state, “traditional approaches to learning and teaching are not capable of meeting the escalating demands of higher education” (Taylor, 2004, p. 11).

In addition to this, sociologists and pragmatic educators are increasingly noticing that people are learning to learn in different or in nontraditional ways (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005). This realisation parallels the “massification” of higher education, the process whereby higher education is transformed from an elite to a mass system with a much larger proportion of the population participating (Scott, 1995). As a greater diversity of people enter higher education it has become clear there are different cognitive, generational, cultural and demographic needs that all need to be considered when designing instruction, particularly for those studying at a distance. For example, in any given course of study there may be students ranging in age from 17 to 70+ (Traditionalists to Millennials, Figure 1), those who only study part-time, those who have dependants or be single parents, or they could be employed part- or full-time while also studying, or they may only have English as their second language (in a western context), or come from a disadvantaged background. In many cases, this has meant students are coming to university unprepared to face the rigors of study, and with little way of knowing how to make the appropriate adjustments.

Figure 1.

A simplified representation of different generational classifications

Massification of higher education has created significant ethical challenges. Indeed there is now a literature on the professionalisation of teaching in higher education (Davis, 1999; Macfarlane, 2004). It is argued that the traditional view of a university academic as a discipline expert with a strong focus on research is no longer adequate. Although academics might be professional in the sense that they are members of a professional body (e.g., in accounting, engineering, law or medicine) or are discipline experts, they must also be professional in the sense that they are cognisant of obligations to students. Students are clients and professionalism incorporates both mastery of an area of knowledge and skill (the traditional view of the university academic) and service from which the client derives benefit (Jarvis, 1983).

The new diversity in the student body, in, inter alia, ability, social background, culture, motivation and economic status, presents significant ethical challenges for teachers. In teaching, assessing and managing students this diversity has an impact. It is no longer good enough to treat students as an immature, homogeneous group with identical educational backgrounds. (Macfarlane, 2004, p. 11)

The need to cater for such diversity has never been greater; demanding new approaches to learning and teaching for the new millennium (Cameron, Shaw, & Arnott, 2002).

Complete Chapter List

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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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