Ethics for eLearning: Two Sides of the Ethical Coin

Ethics for eLearning: Two Sides of the Ethical Coin

Deb Gearhart (Ohio University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6122-6.ch015
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Among the top concerns an eLearning program administrator faces are ethical concerns for eLearning, which develop both internally and externally. This chapter is a review of some ethical concerns facing eLearning administrators and looks at two sides of the ethical coin. The first side of the coin looks at internal ethical issues, which have brought about quality concerns for eLearning programs and which partially led to five new federal regulations facing Institutions of Higher Education (IHE). The flip side of the coin looks at ethical concerns coming from outside the program by way of unethical behaviors from students and how eLearning program administrators can deal with these unethical practices.
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The Ethical Theory Basis For The First Side Of The Coin: Mason’S Four Ethical Issues For The Information Age: Then And Now

Mason’s paper in 1986 addressed four ethical issues for the information age – privacy, accuracy, property, and accessibility (PAPA) and are just as true, if not more true as issues today. Society has accepted some forms of privacy invasion through the use of social media, like FaceBook. Many people put themselves on the Internet in a very public way. However, since 9/11 an individual’s privacy has been invaded more than any other time in the information age with enhanced capabilities for surveillance of the members of our society. Accuracy of information has changed with Wikipedia and openness to information with the ability of individuals to easily change it. Property, who owns it? Individuals putting information, research, on the Internet have an expectation of owning their works. However, as with accuracy, when information can be publically maintained on websites, ownership is a joint effort. Accessibility - there is still a digital divide and issues for those you need accommodations for disabilities. As long as our societies have those who do not have the resources for the technology or need accommodations to the technology accessibility will continue to drive a wedge into each society. Freeman and Peace (2005)reexamined Mason’s four ethical issues ethics years later and found they hold true today as a basis for reviewing concerns today such as hacking, identity theft, software piracy, viruses and worms among others.

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