Lesson 4: Strategies for Promoting and Restoring Ethical Practices for Online Instructors

Having thoroughly explored so many corners where ethical issues can hide in the persona of an online instructor, you should now be qualified to come up with a rudimentary list of simple strategies that will help enforce ethics for the e-teacher. Something to think about. Here is an list of legal Do's and Don't's by Dr. Ramon C. Barquin of the Computer Ethics Institute[6]:

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Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics

  • Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
  • Thou shalt not interfere with other people's computer work.
  • Thou shalt not snoop around in other people's files.
  • Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
  • Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
  • Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid.
  • Thou shalt not use other people's computer resources without authorization or proper compensation.
  • Thou shalt not appropriate other people's intellectual output.
  • Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you write or the system you design.
  • Thou shalt use a computer in ways that show consideration of and respect for your fellow humans.

Copyright: Computer Ethics Institute Author: Dr. Ramon C. Barquin

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A Summary of some more subtle DOs and DO NOTs for the e-Instructor that might be extrapolated from our human-level ethical discussions here may include:


  • Appreciate the crucial role of moderator you will play as instructor of a collaborative course.
  • Assess prior knowledge and experiences to tailor a differentiated approach to instruction.
  • Consider contextual analysis of best practices previously successful in similar courses.
  • Exercise compassion, understanding, and awareness of the classroom's emotional domain.
  • Foster active learning communities within classes that openly share gathered experiences.
  • Get to know your students and contemporaries (throughout the course) via practices like interviews, conversations, and surveys.
  • Keep the broad learning goal in mind, and consider how your students' characteristics and technical aspects of the course can work together for everyone's success.
  • Maintain a positive atmosphere that welcomes exchange of ideas without resignation.
  • Prepare for ethical scenarios by research and/or role playing before starting an online class.
  • Provide a strong social presence that students can depend on for answers and guidelines.
  • Provide a variety of evaluative techniques to capitalize on academic strengths.
  • Provide frequent and consistent feedback to help guide students to ethical online practices.
  • Uphold firm copyright and fair use principles, and keep consistent with consequences.
  • Welcome feedback from administrators, developers, students, and other instructors.
  • Work with knowledgeable developers to provide quality interface, materials, and resources.


  • Alienate developers or ignore their vital roles during or after the training process.
  • Disempower students by belittling contributions or ignoring academic strengths
  • Focus so strongly on global completion of content delivery that students' characteristics, needs, and motivators are subjugated.
  • Globalize behavioral expectations of distance learners.
  • Ignore signs of discord or conflict, or delay intervention.
  • Ignore formal audience information gathering techniques like focus groups, expert panels, published research these will help strengthen instructor preparedness for ethical issues.
  • Jump into an e-instructor's role with the singly selfish motivations like monetary gain or tenure.
  • Trivialize your role of moderator/mediator/facilitator of online conflict and dialog
  • Underplay or counteract the socioemotional human presence in the virtual classroom
  • View the position of e-instructor as a black and white block schedule of information presentation, without ethical considerations.
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