Ethics are Active

Stephanie Moore and Heather Tillberg-Webb’s Ethics and Educational Technology: Reflection, Interrogation, and Design as a Framework for Practice by Stephanie L. Moore and Heather K. Tillberg-Webb (9780415895088) continues to deliver on the promise summarized on the cover. Ethics, we have seen, should be approached from a design perspective. As designers, we are encouraged to be certain of what we hope to achieve with our systems, but a traditional goal-oriented approach (set the conditions you hope to achieve, then measure your success) is not sufficient for those engaged in ethics as design.

Moore and Tillberg-Webb suggest ethical educational technology designers seek to understand both what they are designing for as well as why they designing for it. This a familiar idea for those designers who understand technology is not a neutral agent in our educational systems, the systems we design have different influences on different populations, and some may be harmed by the systems we design.

This strengthens the theme of the book that codes of ethics–definitions of what is right or wrong–are insufficient for today’s educational technology profession, and probably always were. To be ethical, a technology professional must pay attention to the effects of their systems on users. When problems are identified by the users (especially those problems identified by members of marginalize populations) one demonstrates their ethics. When the systems are changed to become more positive and safe places to be and work and learn, you can be sure the IT professional is acting in an ethical manner.