Saturday, August 20, 2005

Ethics in Education

Recently I was contacted by Emma at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne to trial a resource for teaching and exploring ethics in years nine and ten. The material uses examples which focus primarily on computer technology (and how students use such technology) but which is also relevant to disciplines within the humanities. I agreed to do it because in two classes at this level I have recently started blogging and thought it might be of interest to the students. The resource consists of background material, case studies and a short film on DVD. When I looked at the material I had to think of how I would present it to the students. I also wanted to try out the new smart board that we have been invited to trial. So I combined the two and brought the students into the staff lounge (where the IWB is) to sit at tables and look at the video and case studies on the screen and discuss the issues. It was, I agree, not the best use of the interactive whiteboard – I didn’t do anything with the technology – but you have to start somewhere. The students loved it. They were engaged with the issues. The case study I used was on censorship and the students discussed how and why websites are blocked on the school server. I had someone from the IT help desk to help with the smartboard and luckily he was able to engage with the students in this discussion. I was particularly interested in seeing how the whole discussion on ethics in technology would unfold as I had recently heard that technology that is introduced to a person before age fifteen is simply normal, part of their world and not an issue, technology introduced to a person between the ages of fifteen and thirty five is "really cool" and technology introduced after the age of thirty five is seen as "the work of the devil". I think I heard this right. (It must be wrong though because I am in the last age group and it doesn't apply to me). But my students are on the cusp. They are 14 and 15 and I was very interested to hear their thoughts on pirated music and software, and censorship regarding technology. Not surprisingly their views ranged quite widely. The killer for me though was when one student said, “Well, why do we need the internet at all. We got on fine before it. We have libraries full of books.” I think she was just trying to provoke discussion and she did. Afterwards some of the students came up to thank me for the lesson. Maybe it was because I had let them have hot chocolate but I don’t think that was it. They loved the discussion and I had got over “my first time” with the interactive white board.

1 comment:

  1. Just a later note: For a student perspective on this lesson have a look at this: