The Ethics of Digital Scholarship
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The Ethics of Digital Scholarship



Looks at the ethical considerations of digital scholarship, particularly in relation to teaching.

Looks at the ethical considerations of digital scholarship, particularly in relation to teaching.



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  • My interest is in digital scholarship and open education. <br /> I’m going to talk about some of the new possibilities and ways of working and the ethical considerations these raise
  • So as well as digital can talk about open scholarship, defined by these types of characteristics <br /> Do we teach students to have these kinds of skills and should we?
  • Can make argument for openness based on it being efficient <br /> But there is also an ethical side, which I’ll focus on here
  • Start with big question – what is teaching (particularly in an HE context)? <br /> It is about imparting knowledge, developing skills <br /> But also about enculturation – the reason HE is seen as transformative experience is because we bring people into culture of higher ed and all that involves – critical thinking, evaluating arguments, reflection etc. <br /> But there are also a set of values associated with online identity and networking which are important. <br /> There is an ethical argument I think that we are obliged to teach these types of skills to our students also, and it is remiss of us not to do so.
  • I think there are a range of competing ethical considerations throughout this, so my argument is not just that ‘open is good’ <br /> For example -
  • Openness can really work for students in a teaching context, For instance these courses <br /> Openness is at the heart and although challenging people come out having developed new skills and also reflected on ways of learning, their own identity, etc All things we used to do a lot if HE
  • My MOOC – had some of these benefits, but you tend to hear from the enthusiasts. <br /> What about those who didn’t like it? <br />
  • Broadening it out a bit, we also teach our students how to become researchers <br /> And dissemination is part of that <br /> There is a strong ethical argument to OA for Govt funded research, but what about now students are paying fees, scholarship that is effectively funded by them?
  • Open data reveals how what can seem quite straightforward ethically has implications. <br /> This is often the type of research we get 3rd year undergrads to do for their dissertation. Is it ethical to get them to release it openly? Is it ethical NOT to?
  • Open educational resources
  • At the start mentioned developing new skills <br /> Increasingly need to be well developed in these areas, but how many can say they really do this in an intensive manner? <br /> Are we failing students if we don’t?
  • I want to take a slight detour as an example
  • The key element is permission I think, and this goes back to the architecture of the internet. This is Lessig’s review of the film The Social Network, and the point he stresses is that it was the removal of the barrier of permission that allowed facebook (and all those other start-ups) to flourish
  • It’s not really a manifesto, but let’s pretend <br /> Some principles that characterise guerrilla research
  • We don’t see the waste in the current system because it’s accepted <br /> But a guerrilla approach may be more efficient, produce more shareable stuff <br /> Most of these rejected bids are lost <br /> So should we be teaching this approach to research?

The Ethics of Digital Scholarship The Ethics of Digital Scholarship Presentation Transcript

  • Teaching Ethics: A digital scholarship perspective Martin Weller
  • Overview • Open scholarship • Ethical perspective • Ethics of obligation vs risks • How open for students • Open Access/Open data • OERs • New skills • Learning analytics • Conclusions
  • The Digital Scholar book
  • Open scholarship Weller (2011) open scholars are likely to: • Have a distributed online identity • Have a central place for their identity • Have cultivated an online network of peers • Have developed a personal learning environment from a range of tools • Engage with open publishing • Create a range of informal outputs • Try new technologies • Mix personal and professional outputs • Use new technologies to support teaching and research • Automatically create and share outputs
  • By psd Openness is an efficient approach Benefits in terms of: Reuse Cost saving Marketing Recruitment Public engagement Focus on ethical side
  • What is teaching? • Partly enculturation • What if that culture has changed or is less valid?
  • Competing set of ethical considerations • We should be equipping students with skills and approaches that will be relevant Learning is a vulnerable process & risks associated
  • • Phonar • DS106 • Rhizo14 • Good community • Open approach is at heart
  • H817Open • Create own blog • Aggregate together • Some did behind password • Others felt excluded • Forcing people into open
  • Open Access • Anything paid for by Govt funding should be freely available • But what about things paid for by student fees? • “Publishing science behind paywalls is immoral” (Mike Taylor)
  • Open data • G8 treaty on open data - all government data will be released openly by default • Mandates that put data with publications • But what about ‘human’ data? • Deanonymising data is not difficult • Date of birth, gender & zip code is unique for 87% of the population • Ohm: ‘Data can be either useful or perfectly anonymous but never both.’
  • OERs • Is there an ethical compulsion to release teaching content? • Is it unethical not to expose your students to the best content?
  • Developing appropriate skills • Networker • Digital identity • Engaging with the open net • Are the academic skills we teach still relevant?
  • Should we be teaching our students the art of guerrilla research? 5981013497/
  • “what’s important here is that Zuckerberg’s genius could be embraced by half-a-billion people within six years of its first being launched, without (and here is the critical bit) asking permission of anyone. The real story is not the invention. It is the platform that makes the invention sing.” (Larry Lessig)
  • The manifesto 1. It can be done by one or two researchers and does not require a team 2. It relies on existing open data, information and tools 3. It is fairly quick to realise 4. It is disseminated via blogs and social media 5. It doesn’t require permission
  • More ethical? 12 days for a conventional proposal was the average (RCUK 2006) ESRC - only 17% of bids were successful in 2009-10 RCUK = 2006 £196 million on applications to the 8 UK research councils 2800 bids submitted to ESRC in 2009-10, an increase in 33% from 2005-6 ESRC - 2000 failed bids x 12 days per bid = 65 years of effort
  • Learning analytics • Can be powerful tool to support students • Ethical element of gathering data • Predictive analytics – should we encourage/discourage people who have little chance of success?
  • James Boyle: “We are very good at seeing the downsides and the dangers of open systems, open production systems, networks of openness. .. Those dangers are real… we are not so good at seeing the benefits and the converse holds true for the closed system.”
  • Conclusions • New tools & approaches offer new possibilities • Openness is key to many of these • But bring new ethical considerations • Ethics in NOT adopting as well as adopting