In this course, we will work with a basic definition of ethics as follows:

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that encompasses right conduct and good life (the life worth living or life that is satisfying, held by many philosophers to be more important than moral conduct)[8].

In a global and human focused scope, ethics may be a standard of measure to be used when defining ideals, it embraces the quest of embracing the greatest good for everyone. In comparison to morals, which are core values based on faith and culture, ethics may be seen as the conduct that one precipitates,for the greater good,based upon those core beliefs[4]. Ethics, as you can tell, is therefore a broad theme that defies boundaries of strict definition. Ethics can certainly be explored beyond the capacity of this module, which hopes to focus on the ethics in cyber-education (see our Mission Statement).

In this learning module, the authors offer you a peek through the virtual classroom wall into the ethics of relationships, components, and processes that shape the reality of distance education. We will examine ethical principles, considerations, and applications through the eyes of three main constituents of the internet education environment: the e-Instructor, the e-Student, and the e-developer. Additionally, we will provide scenarios with analyses that will offer a role-playing seat as you peruse the dimensions of online ethics. Our goal? We hope to equip you, our gracious student with information, tools, resources, and strategies that will enhance your exposure and understanding of ethics in e-learning.

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General Objectives
At the conclusion of the lessons in this course, the student will be able to:

  • Describe several strategies that can be used by e-developers of online instruction
  • Describe several strategies that can be used by e-students of online instruction
  • Describe several strategies that can be used by e-teachers of online instruction
  • Describe the ethical stance of the US government in matters of ethical internet protocol
  • Distinguish between ethics and morals
  • Explain the general significance of ethics in online and traditional education
  • Identify at least two sources of professional ethics in education
  • Identify several ethical breaches in the behaviors of e-teachers, e-students, and e-developers
  • Identify several general relationships in which online ethics apply
  • List several Do and Do Not recommendations for sound ethical practices in the e-classroo
  • Provide a basic definition of the term ethics
  • Provide analysis and feedback on various ethical scenarios of an online course
  • Recite some of the main principles of ethics as stated by the NEA

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Before we get started
Consider some basic quoted points:

  • [We] should be cognizant of the effects technology has on human well-being and should take steps (where possible) to direct and control those effects so that human well-being is enhanced and not undermined. [5]
  • Above all, don't separate the online world and the offline world. Try to blend them together. It's the same world online and off. Just because there's a sense of anonymity online doesn't mean the rules change. [2]
  • Assign students to work with technology buddies, other students who have already worked with technology and will set a good example. [2]
  • Codes of ethics will help bring to light kinds of issues raised in discussion. [5]
  • Determining what to do or what should be done depends on understanding the nature of the problem one faces. Issues that arise in the workplace are often subtle and/or complex with no one obvious right answer. [5]
  • Develop a detailed universal plan for technology use and lay it out for everyone at once. [2]
  • Don't model inappropriate behavior. [2]
  • How we teach kids to view themselves and their use of technology at this level is what they will carry with them into adulthood [2]
  • Instill a sense of responsibility, point out the real costs of misusing technology, and express a belief in students' ability to handle technology properly. [2]
  • Involve students in constructive activities. Ask them to develop ten rules for a classroom acceptable use policy, for example. [2]
  • Make direct comparisons between what students do on the Internet and how they behave in their daily lives. [2]
  • People may choose to use new technology for sinister purposes. [5]
  • Professionals have special knowledge and skills that directly influence human well-being and that this brings with it special responsibilities [5]
  • Reinforce proper behavior. Treat offenses as mistakes rather than "crimes," especially in the beginning. [2]
  • Take advantage of every teachable moment. [2]
  • The best time to begin establishing a culture of proper use is the first day you introduce your students to technology. Teaching good practices is much easier than eliminating bad ones. [2]
  • The following ten topics have been identified as essential work ethics that should be taught and practiced in order to develop a viable and effective workforce. [They] should be taught and evaluated in online courses: Attendance (Punctuality), Character, Teamwork, Appearance, Attitude, Productivity, Organizational Skills, Communication, Cooperation, Respect. [3]
  • When designing products, engineers should think about the social, environmental, and personal effects those products might have. [5]


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