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Discussing Ethical Issues in Online Teaching

The importance of ethical behavior in online teaching as a topic of concern has never been more relevant, particularly at a time when many classes in higher education are online because of the pandemic. Five major reasons why ethical issues in online teaching are relevant include accreditation and compliance issues, the quality of the teaching and learning experience, equity in educational outcomes, student privacy concerns, and inclusivity issues. 

College of Business BELIEF Faculty Development Event

The College of Business recently participated in a targeted faculty development event through the lens of their BELIEF Ethics Program. For those unfamiliar with the program, BELIEF (Building Ethical Leaders Using an Integrated Ethics Framework) arms all upper-division College Business majors with a common foundation of business ethics, teaching them how they will apply ethics to their business careers. The program’s mission is to “build ethical leaders through the integration of program development, faculty support, business community involvement and learner engagement” and to equip students “with a lasting set of practical tools to apply ethical values in business practices.”

Topics covered in the recent faculty development event include dilemmas surrounding¬† exceptions for students’ late work, student engagement in synchronous and asynchronous settings, unique considerations in synchronous teaching and learning, and exam proctoring. Following an introduction by CITL staff to the potential ethical dilemmas inherent in each of these overarching topics, the workshop participants dispersed into four breakout groups, each facilitated by a CITL staff member, where they discussed the most pressing dilemmas they faced and their thoughts about when these ethical issues have come up in their own teaching and what their approaches to dealing with these issues have been.

After discussing in breakout groups for thirty minutes, the entire group came back together for a debriefing during which members of each group reported out their conversations. Finally, the group was left with a couple more topics for further consideration as they continue to teach online, including ethical issues with planning and developing online courses and whether learning outcomes can be translated from face-to-face to online learning environments.

One of the most notable revelations from the discussion was that there is no “silver bullet” answer or solution to any of these ethical quandaries.

two students looking at notebook in barsema atrium

Wisdom Wednesday: The Ethics of Online Teaching, a Campus-wide Discussion Opportunity (March 24, 2021)

CITL is extending the ethics in online teaching discussion and opening it up to the campus to explore these ethical dilemmas in a Wisdom Wednesday discussion at the end of March: “Conversations related to ethical issues in education are often discussed in all modalities of teaching. Online teaching can magnify the ethical concerns we experience as faculty and students. In this workshop, you will engage in a discussion on issues of equity, surveillance, and identity in an online environment. Register Now!

For more information on this and other workshop and discussion opportunities, please visit our Upcoming Programs webpage.

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