In this chapter, a framework which models at a high level the interactions between technology, pedagogy and ethics is applied to the interpretation of a case study. The case study describes a student excluded from his course as a result of administrative error. Since his studies are, in part, mediated through a Virtual Learning Environment, the exclusion takes on additional impacts not anticipated by the human actors, and proves surprisingly difficult to undo even once the error is acknowledged. This reveals problematic aspects of the interaction between the domains. Conflicts between the aims and interests of the various stakeholders, combined with misunderstandings of the way that the technology operates, provide obvious surface causes of the problem. However, analysis reveals that the deeper cause lies in the fact that the life world of education has been colonised by a system that replaces human communication, and thus inevitably presents ethical problems.
Key Terms in this Chapter
The effects of ICT on power in relationships: as with other technologies, those who control the deployment or operation of ICT can act as hidden legislators in determining what actions are permitted or denied to others.
Pedagogy for e-learning: We advocate a social constructivist pedagogy and see e-learning as ideally embedded together with face-to-face delivery in a mixed-mode framework.
The role of ICT in learning: ICT offers the promise to empower learners, to support creativity, to widen access, to revolutionise assessment, but it can also damage the process and the outcomes when applied without due sensitivity to the risks.
Normative issues arising from the use of ICT: An attempt to discover rules for ‘good’ behaviour in the design, development or operation of ICT systems.
Questions of responsibility: Responsibility is a social construct that ascribes to a person (or other agent) the duty to answer to someone for something.
Philosophical ethics: A form of meta-ethics that investigates the normative grounds of ethical behaviour.
Privacy in online environments: Privacy is a complex concept related to control over and ownership of information about one’s self; interaction in online environments brings new challenges to our perceptions of privacy.