What are ethics?
Ethics are a set of behaviours that are often shaped by a range of influences. Our personal interpretation of ethics helps shape our ideas about justice, our morals and virtues. Identifying your personal ethics allows you to understand what drives and motivates you to respond to situations in certain ways.
Step 1 – WHAT –
As a profession, teachers are expected to uphold a duty of care, acting in the best interests of their students (Mahony, 2009).
With the development of the digital tools, there is now the ability for people to share their opinions in a variety of ways. Many MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses), involve students giving personal information and communication. Because my inquiry is around these online courses, it means that ethics play an important part.
Within the teaching profession we are bound by ‘Our Code Our Standards’ document. This document outlines our code for professional responsibility and standards for the teaching profession. As a teacher in New Zealand, I must adhere to these standards.
Step 2 – SO WHAT –
Using the ethical dilemma model developed by Ehrich (2011). I am going to analyse the the issue of collecting and storing student information in a MOOC.
The first part is the critical incident and this triggers the ethical dilemma.
For me this has occured when setting up my MOOC – Toku Ako.
As part of the registration process students need to give their personal details. This involves names, address and birthday, school and email address. Collecting data is not new, but in the digital age it actually represents a way to collect revenue and make money. I could easily collect student data and sell this information to New Zealand or overseas companies.
The second part is a set of competing forces.
The idea or ability to sell student data and personal information does not sit with New Zealand Teaching Values.
Our values express the need for Manaakitanga which ensures we have positive learning environments that treats everyone with respect and dignity. Online communities deserve this care. We also have Pono which is acting in ways that are fair, honest, ethical and just.
Neither Pono or Whanaungatanga would be occurring if data was distributed without students knowledge or consent.
Websites in New Zealand also have to abide by the 12 Principles of Privacy developed by the Privacy Commission. These 12 principles highlight the way that companies can collect, store and use information.
The third part of the model is the individual or organisation culture.
This is when we look at the beliefs of the individual or organisation they are working for. For the company Kiwi Kids News, which the Toku Ako website comes under, a decision to sell data or information is not a reflection of the companies philosophy.
The fourth part of the model is the choice.
My response needed to be professional and ethical. Professionally I was aware of the need to be respectful to the culture of whanau and schools in New Zealand. People in New Zealand expect student websites to be safe and their data to be safe. There are also clear laws that need to be followed.
Finally, the action.
Step 3 – NOW WHAT –
As shown above, the Code of Professional Responsibility and Standards for the Teaching profession and the decision making frame played an important part in the outworking of my decision. They guided me in the ethical decision-making process. They forced me to think of the problem in clear linear steps.
I will certainly use the ethical decision-making frameworks in the future. For me it provides a clear way to break down issues and focus on a clear set of steps you can use as you move forward.
Educationcouncilorgnz. (2018). Educationcouncilorgnz. Retrieved 21 February, 2018, from https://educationcouncil.org.nz/content/our-code-our-standards
Lisa Catherine Ehrich , Megan Kimber , Jan Millwater & Neil Cranston (2011)Ethical dilemmas: a model to understand teacher practice, Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 17:2, 173-185, DOI: 10.1080/13540602.2011.539794
Privacy Commission. Retreived 22 February, 2019, from https://www.privacy.org.nz/news-and-publications/guidance-resources/a-quick-tour-of-the-privacy-principles/