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The ethics of e-learning: exploiting the potential benefits, avoiding harm and thinking about intent

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  • Education
  • Philosophy


This paper identifies and addresses some of the complex and emerging ethical aspects of elearning. At a time when developing technologies offer increasing opportunities for creative applications to learning, ethical aspects merit attention. The author is an experienced teacher of ethics in health and social care at university level. She has also successfully developed blended learning for social work students. The paper discusses a range of ethical issues in connection with newer modes of teaching and learning. These include resourcing, protection from harm, intent/motivation in implementing elearning, and the efficacy of new technology in education. Framing pedagogical ethical dilemmas in deontological and consequentialist terms, the author argues that traditional ethical theory does not offer tools to consider these adequately, let alone resolve them. The paper argues that searching questions should be asked about the ethical implications of elearning to ensure that new technologies benefit students.

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