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Ethics and mobile learning

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In this paper I discuss some of the ethical issues relating to the use of mobile technologies in education. I argue that the frames of reference used by educators and technologists typically fail to …

In this paper I discuss some of the ethical issues relating to the use of mobile technologies in education. I argue that the frames of reference used by educators and technologists typically fail to capture the nature, scope and impact of ethical issues in
mobile learning. Part of the problem is that the right kind of analytical tools for research into ethics. I propose a taxonomy of ethical issues based on dominant positions in meta-ethical theory, suggesting that we need a reconstructive approach which focuses on the responsibilities of students, educators and policymakers; the desirability of the outcomes from mobile learning initiatives; and assessing the learning or development of those involved. Referring to the methodology from the Mobile Technologies in Lifelong Learning (MOTILL) project, I show how an alternative methodological foundation might both affect research design and facilitate understanding of ethical issues in mobile learning.

Presented at the Computers and Learning Research Group (CALRG) Conference 2010 (http://kn.open.ac.uk/public/workspace.cfm?wpid=5403)


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  • Developing a method for identifying key elements of the relationship between mobile technology and lifelong learning Providing a tool to assist partners in the identification and assessment of mobile lifelong learning projects A framework for the rank and comparison of effective uses of mobile technology in lifelong learning A system for capturing best practice ‘scientifically’ A way of highlighting shortcomings in present practices and opportunities for the future
  • This doesn’t capture the interconnectedness...
  • Transcript

    • 1. Ethics and Mobile Learning: Methodological Considerations Dr. Robert Farrow CALRG Conference 2011 The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology
    • 2. Context: m-learning
      • Encourage “anywhere, anytime” learning
      • Improving accessibility
      • Improve 21st-century social interactions
      • Fit with learning environments
      • Enable a personalized learning experience
      • Schuler (2009)
      The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology
    • 3. Context: m-learning
      • New pedagogical possibilities
      • Accommodating learner needs
      • Access to information
      • Collaboration
      • Context-specific
      • Organisation
      • Management
      The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology
    • 4. Context: ethics
      • Accessibility
      • Inclusion
      • Security
        • Privacy/Sharing
        • Protecting information
      • Personal time
      The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology
      • Personal space
      • Cultural change/resistance
      • Professional standards
      • Institutional support
      • Research ethics & ‘informed consent’
      • Monitoring (esp. children)
    • 5. Problem(s)
      • The use of mobile technologies in educational contexts raises a number of ethical issues
      • How can we grasp these issues when nature and use of technologies develops so quickly?
      • How can we give guidance without being prescriptive?
      The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology
    • 6. Four (largely assertive) theses
      • Ethics is difficult to analyse!
      • Most educational technologists focus on research ethics, not ethics per se
      • Diverse contexts of application in m-learning further complicate matters
      • The advocacy problem
      The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology
    • 7. The MOTILL Project (2009-10)
      • Mobile devices are inclusive and widely used
      • Building an evidence base for assessing the impact of mobile technologies upon lifelong learning
      • Integration of mobile technologies into lifelong learning policies
      • Developing the digital economy and contributing toward meeting the various targets for lifelong learning
      The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology
    • 8. The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology Arrigo, M. et al (eds.), 2010
    • 9. Why Meta-ethics?
      • Philosophers often distinguish two areas of ethics
      • NORMATIVE ETHICS (prescriptive)
      • How should we behave?
      • What beliefs/values should we have?
      • Which ‘rules’ should we follow?
      • META-ETHICS (reconstructive)
      • What does our moral language mean?
      • Do our moral concepts make sense?
      • What is the relationship between values, reasons & actions?
    • 10. Dominant meta-ethical theories
      • DEONTOLOGICAL
      • CONSEQUENTIALIST
      • VIRTUE ETHICS
      The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology
    • 11. Deontological Meta-ethics
      • Literally, the ‘science of duty’ from the Greek δέον [ deon ] meaning obligation or duty and -λογία, [ -logia ] meaning ‘rational inquiry’
      • Emphasizes duties, obligations, responsibilities & rights
      • Actions are usually either forbidden or permitted
      • Are there conflicts between duties, or exceptions?
      • m-learning: what is expected of teachers and learners in an m-learning scenario?
    • 12. Consequentialist Meta-ethics
      • Assesses the ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ of actions specifically in terms of their consequences/outcomes
      • ‘ Moral calculus’? (metrics)
      • Agent-neutral: considers ‘the whole picture’, aggregating the effects on all relevant parties
      • Counter-intuitive?
      • m-learning: how can we understand the impact of changing practices and technologies?
    • 13. Virtue Meta-ethics
      • Focuses upon the desirability of traits, skills and characteristics of agents
      • Virtue ethicists believe that ethics is about cultivating the qualities and habits that contribute to a good or ‘flourishing’ life [ eudemonia ]
      • m-learning: acquiring and making use of the relevant technological, didactic, communicative and social skills
    • 14. Meta-ethics: summary
      • Each type of theory has strengths and weaknesses
      • There is much debate both between and among different schools of thought
      • Hybrid approaches are common in philosophical ethics
      • Meta-ethics helps us to clarify and analyse our moral intuitions rather than provide specific guidance on how to act
      The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology
    • 15. Relating to m-learning The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology Meta-ethics Ethical Issues in m-learning Deontological Responsibilities Consequentialist Outcomes (Results) Virtue Ethics Personal Development
    • 16. The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology
    • 17. The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology ETHICS
    • 18. ETHICS LEARNING OUTCOMES POLICIES & RULES PEDAGOGICAL RELATIONSHIPS
    • 19. Revised Tool The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology Ethical Concerns in m-Learning Taxonomy Responsibilities Pedagogical Relationships Personal Development Learning Outcomes (General) Outcomes Policies & Rules Accessibility Privacy & Security Copyright
    • 20. Potential Uses
      • Evaluation of m-learning projects/activities
      • Stakeholder analysis
      • Policy Review
      • Practitioner Reflection
      The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology
    • 21. [email_address] Institute of Educational Technology The Open University Walton Hall Milton Keynes, UK MK7 6AA
      • www.open.ac.uk/iet