Blog Post

Thinking About Ethical Classrooms

This week on HASTAC and on we're running simultaneous discussions of the various ethical issues that emerge when we are teaching not only using technology but in a world that connects our classrooms and our students, one to many, many to one.  What sent this particular ethical conversation in motion was the committment by Duke's new Dean of Arts and Sciences, Laurie Patton who has spent her first year at Duke holding a series of faculty forums specifically dedicated to all the different ethical dimensions of pedagogy in the 21st century. 


Here's a snapshot of several of these conversations about pedagogical ethics:

I.  With the ethical issues raised at these forums in my head, I decided to spend some of my time at EARCOS (#earcos12), the annual conference of the East Asia Regional Council of Schools, talking about ethics and responsibilities of classroom teachers---but also our ethical responsibilities to classroom teachers who have the formidable job of delivering quality education while also being up to date with all the newest technologies.  Over 1500 K-12 teachers attended  EARCOS, and the conversations were deep and intense.   You can read about them on the dmlcentral blog here.

II.  After giving a keynote address from Now You See It, I also conducted three workshops on various aspects of peer-evaluation, peer-driven pedagogy, peer-assessment, and then collaborative, peer-driven ethics.   To practice what I preached, I used my favorite, low-tech method in each of these workshops:  index cards and pencils.  It's the easiest, most interactive, low-tech, fast method (for K-12, college or grad students, or a general audience) that I know. You can read about that method here.

III.   In the third workshop, a number of teachers at EARCOS actually created a document together, using a Google Doc, "A Collaborative Guide to Best Learning Practices for K-12 Classroom". Here are some issues of the issues workshop participants raised:

* Tools aren't teachers, they aren't students, and they aren't magic.

* We need to ensure that students have the personal resources to support the tools they are being taught.
* We need the right platforms for collaboration to ensure that technology is part of the content of learning.

* We need to address technology accessibility inequalities.

* We need to create a community among teachers using best practices and research to show the benefits of innovation and creative, collaborative partnerships in education.

And, if you are inclined, you can add to it on the still open, public document here.

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If all that were not enough, we are also launching, this week, a new HASTAC Scholars Forum "Pedagogical Ethics in a Digital Age". This forum is hosted by Mary Caton Lingold, Duke University, and Molly Storment, North Carolina State University. It begins with the all-important question:  What are your ethics for teaching in a digital age?   

We invite you not only to answer that question and the many others raised by the Forum but also to pose other questions too.   What is bothering you?  What dilemmas do you face that seem unsolvable?   What new kinds of pressures do you feel in your teaching?   How do you cope?  How do you and your students thrive?   

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V.  An Invitation from Dean Laurie Patton, Duke University, College of Arts and Sciences

I wish to thank Dean Patton for getting this conversation going at Duke and by issuing an invitation to everyone to participate in this important conversation.   I also wish to thank the teachers at EARCOS for making the conversation go international, and Mary Caton Lingold and Molly Storment for making this as open and compelling a conversation as possible. Thanks to HASTAC Scholars Director Fiona Barnett for making it all happen.   We all have so much to learn together!  


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