Preparing Students for Ethical Use of Technology: A Case Study for Distance Education

Preparing Students for Ethical Use of Technology: A Case Study for Distance Education

Deb Gearhart (Troy University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-867-3.ch007
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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 director of a distance education program with students who are ill-prepared for using technology and who use technology unethically had lead to the research for this chapter. The chapter reviews studies where ethical behaviors are reviewed. The survey responses lead to discussion on how to instill ethical use of technology for institutional distance education programs, through the use of ethical policies and procedures. The chapter concludes with a look at future research directions.
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Kidder (1995) addressed the question “why should we teach ethics in an electronic age?” by responding that we will not survive the 21st century with the ethics of the 20th century. This is becoming more evident in our teaching practices. A U. S. Department of Justice report on the ethical use of information technology in education described what the authors term “psychological distance.” When interacting with others face-to-face, the results of inappropriate and unethical behaviors are viewed immediately. When using information technology, inappropriate and unethical behavior while interacting with others can do harm. The act feels less personal because there is no immediate reaction in the exchange. The report goes on to note that traditionally moral values are learned at home and usually reinforced in school. That is not necessarily true today. Often values are not learned at home and schools are restricted in their ability to teach social values. In addition, young people are very comfortable with technology such as computer chats, instant messaging, text messaging, and so forth, where face-to-face interaction is not necessary. Our young people are becoming psychologically distant in their interactions with others.

As students move from school to the workplace, ethical issues for computing and information technology in education are becoming societal issues, dealing with both moral and criminal issues. Institutions of higher education need to deal with ethical issues related to computer technology. How do we teach and practice technology ethics in higher education? Here are two recommendations to be addressed in this chapter: set policy that provides a model for students to follow, and incorporate technology ethics issues in the curriculum. This chapter defines ethics and looks at how higher education, and in particular distance education, can deal with ethical issues encountered by students in using computing technology for educational purposes.



As early as 1990, informal polls showed that as many as three quarters of students on campuses today admit to some sort of academic fraud (Gearhart, 2000). Until recently research on ethics had been limited. There were two studies that demonstrated the need for a code of ethics in higher education. The first study was conducted in 1993 and a replicated study was conducted in 2001. In the first study 52.2% of education practitioners surveyed found a need for a code of ethics. When replicated in 2001, 72.8% of the education practitioners surveyed found a need for a code of ethics, demonstrating an increasing need for ethics in higher education (Brockett & Hiemstra, 2004, p. 10).

However, before dealing with educational ethics, a review of societal ethics is in order. In our society, quickly becoming a global society where information technology is concerned, the growing use of computers is becoming the norm in the workplace and in our daily lives. We are increasingly dependent on the computer.

Forester and Morrison (1994) looked at the social problems created by computers and have developed seven categories of computer-related ethical issues:

  • 1.

    Computer crimes and problems of computer security;

  • 2.

    Software theft and the question of intellectual property;

  • 3.

    The problem of hacking and the creation of viruses;

  • 4.

    Computer unreliability and key questions on software quality;

  • 5.

    Data storage and invasion of privacy;

  • 6.

    The social implications of artificial intelligence and expert systems; and

  • 7.

    The many problems associated with workplace computerization.

All seven of these issues can be considered computer crime. Computer crime generally has been defined as a criminal act that has been committed using a computer as the principal tool. It takes the form of theft of money, theft of information, or theft of goods. These issues are not only moral and ethical issues, but can be very costly. Computer crime costs companies billions of dollars every year. Also, all seven of these issues can be found in higher education and have an effect on distance education.

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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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