A Code of Ethical Conduct for Global Learning

A Code of Ethical Conduct for Global Learning

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-543-8.ch002
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Abstract

Cyberspace is host to conflicting views of cyberethics. National boundaries and traditional social values are distorted by the influence of globalized values that are linked to technology. The inevitable change prompted by technology calls for a code of ethical conduct for the global online learning community where all stakeholders ultimately share the responsibility for student success.
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Objectives

  • Define constraints for ethical behavior in cyberspace including code, market, and norms.

  • Identify the roles and the collective responsibility for the quality of the online learning program and the ultimate desired outcome, which is student learning.

  • Discuss the ethical and theoretical framework used in online learning, and why cyber educators must remain focused on student learning.

  • Analyze global learning and the necessity to re-evaluate its existence and refocus on the purpose behind education.

  • Evaluate the need for the educational community to come up with new approaches in the areas of course design, pedagogy, and learner activities and assessment.

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Background

Innate in each human being is the desire to be free from harm and to flourish. Universal values promoting well-being transcend cultural, ethnic and social barriers, as well as time. Technology provides an environment where these values also transcend cyberspace. Connectivity enables the emergence of new values that impact every facet of learning, including the ethical roles and responsibilities of cyber educators, learners, as well as everyone involved in the design, implementation, and delivery of online learning programs.

Ethics in cyberspace, often referred to as cyberethics, include all of the behaviors typically be associated with any other type of environment. In cyberspace, however, anonymity protects the individual from the possible consequences of their misbehavior. This leads to concerns regarding the roles and responsibilities of those involved in online learning programs, especially when such programs have a global reach. Global learning implies global concerns, thereby calling for a comprehensive approach to developing and implementing a code of ethical conduct that takes into account the changing roles and responsibilities of stakeholders while providing a safe environment for learners from different backgrounds.

Universal in application, ethical behavior is set into action when an individual makes a conscious decision between what is right and wrong (Adamson & Mietus, 2000). Morality, on the other hand, is infused with cultural and societal norms. Such norms, or values, define the attitudes within a society regarding what is right and wrong (Brown, 1998). Because global learning encompasses many norms, a code of conduct that crosses multiple boundaries is more difficult to establish. Justice therefore becomes an ambiguous term that is subject to interpretation. Justice is a term that can vary so widely that it is intentionally left out of many legal books.

When a code of ethics is typically discussed, it is usually within the framework of fairness. The quandary here is that the term fair is subject to interpretation. The idea of fairness includes both process and product, but is highly dependent upon interpretation. Regardless of the difficulty of interpretation, the need to establish a code of ethics to underpin the expansion of global learning has never been greater.

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