Ethics and Educational Technology

I am going to be posting my full comment tomorrow about what I think it means to be an educational technologist, but I wanted to comment first on the discussion about the term “ethics” that have been placed into AECT’s current definition.

In northwestern Ontario one of the primary texts that is being used to focus teaching across the area is Fullan, Hill and Crevola’s “Breakthrough.” In this text they propose a new model for developing a high capacity of teaching and learning. The model proposed is circular in nature for two reasons: to show how all the pieces are dependant on each other and how developing of a higher capacity is never ending. *

The very middle of the model, on which all other parts of the model depend, is moral purpose. They do not define exactly what they mean by moral purpose because they believe all teachers will have a different understanding of the term, yet all educators start and must maintain some form of moral purpose.

This idea is something that I have taken to heart and will understand that it will be time to leave education when I have lost my sense of moral purpose.

The role that we have as educators demands that we have some understanding of our moral purpose in and out of the classroom. As a subset of the educational profession, I believe that we as educational technologists I believe that it is imperative that we communicate this to other professionals and the general public.

When I read Denis Hylnka’s (2008) critique of the use of the term ethical I thought of the movie The Dark Knight. Batman’s conceptual definition or role was to ethically protect the public from harm, whether it was from the Joker or any other evil scenario. When he was placed in a situation where he was forced to choose to rescue one individual and potentially let another person die, he had to struggle with how his decision would cause harm to someone. When someone was harmed when could (should) have protected them he wondered if quitting was the solution. But he didn’t. He understood that he needed to act differently the next time, so that scenario would not present itself.

So it is with teachers who are educational technologists. We must have is our definition that we are ethical, that we have a moral purpose, so that if some our actions end up moving in an immoral or unethical direction we can try to stop the actions and reflect on how to ensure the situation does not occur again. 

*(I know I should be citing a source, but I do not have the book with me and I could not find an e-copy to use. When I get home I will update this posting with a citation.)

References I Had on Hand

Hylnka, D. (2008.) Educational technology: A definition for the 21st century. Educational Technology, 48 (6). 48-50.

Behaviorism, Cognitivism and Constructivism! Oh, my!

I was going to write about Cresswell’s writings this evening, but then I read chapter 2 of educational technology and I have too many comments swirling to not comment…

First thing too talk about is the 5 principles from constructivism…Most of the points are not possible without true facilitation of learning, and probably not without educational technology. How does a teacher get a student (or even harder a group of students) interested in the reasons for Canadian Confederation from a text book? The text book can’t come close tany of the three points of the first principle.

I laughed out loud when I read the fourth principle (well maybe chuckled to myself a little bit). As jurisdictions embed the use of high stakes testing, curriculum expectations become more and more rigid. As expectations harden opportunity for diversity in the classroom dissappear. So the content of each class is rigid, with almost every class learning the same material the same way…and as educators we are supposed to encourage ownership in learning? Working with a slightly behind student in math this year I asked him “Why are you doing this question this way?” and he answered “Becuase I have to.” There was no meta cognitive awareness on his part. He was just trying to pass the class.

But with this focus of constructivism (in Ontario anyway it is the VERY big thing) I was quite surprised to see the liberal helping of behaviourism that is still being used as primary teaching strategies. All teachers in primary grades in Ontario are (essentially) expected to follow Fountas and Pinnell for literacy teaching. A big part (some say THE PART)of this methodology is guided reading. When I read the description of Direct Instruction on pg 22, all I could think of was guided reading (except guided reading does not have a ed. tech component). The whole plan that Fountas and Pinnell espouse matches the constructivist prescriptions, but why is the key component apparently belonging to a different educational philosophy?

As a last note I was surprised by how much I found that I had used behaviorist strategies. Is this becuase I have primarily worked with students that didn’t want to be responsible for their own learning? Or because they were so far behind I decided by myself I was going to take them to where they needed to be? Or something else that I have not thought of?

Please discuss amongst yourselves… (but let me know what you come up with)

1st Post as a Doctoral Student

I am making this post the evening before I start school for my first semester as a doctoral student at the University of Calgary.

I just arrived in Calgary today and visited the campus for the first time this afternoon.

I do not quite know what to expect for this semester but I am sure that if I work hard that I should do fine both this semester and during the 4 years I will be working on this program.

I will post more tomorrow with my first thoughts on my first day of school.

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