This came from the discussion "Making Meaning" started by Julia Osteen. She's responding to this question:

"One more thing we could bring into the discussion: What are the ethics involved, the ethics of the style we take on as "guides" into this new world. Should we teach "caring," for instance, and "activism for a good future"? What are our jobs in the ethical sphere? (from Connie)

"Ethics, you raise a very important point. Ethics is extremely important ~ maybe more important to be explicit about ethics now than ever due to the nature of our world. I sat in on a session with David Warlick at NECC where he made this point. He said (paraphrasing here) that ethical use of information needs to include the following:

Seek truth and express it
To minimize harm
To be accountable
To respect and protect information infrastructure - ideas and information

His talk was on Contemporary Literacy where the 3R's become the 4E's -- employing, exposing, expressing and ethics.

Before we can determine 'our jobs in the ethical sphere,' I think we need to agree upon a definition of citizenship - global and digital citizenship. Here's a phrase I found on Dell's website, 'social and environmental stewardship.' So, what is global digital citizenship or digital citizenship in a global society?" (from Julie)

Anybody else working on figuring this out? I pushed the "answer, please" slot on my thinking machine, and nothing came out. The machine sent me back the notice "This answer is not clearly defined yet; work in progress."

Global guides, maybe we're global guides for the kids, teaching them how to go after "social and environmental stewardship."


Tags: ethics, learning, meaning, purpose

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Thanks for your comments; they deserve much thought. I'm going to share your post as an opener in my discussion group at Harvard's Project Zero. I look forward to the talk that will follow...
You are right on target with technology (or the novel, even) being a double edged sword. What makes it so powerful--its scope and reach to all parts of the world in an instant, for example--is what also makes it so powerful. I wish I could remember all the things that my cyber-ethics class in library school discussed. That was seven years ago and already there are new issues and concerns. The cyber-world changes so quickly that it makes some of our ethical (and other) discussions obsolete before we can find the definitive answer. Even the seemingly straight forward question of what is good digital citizenship is made that much more difficult because we can discuss it from one cultural bias and it is soon being batted about from a totally different perspective. The existence of CR 2.0 means that a somewhat elite group is discussing suggested "rules" for people who do not even know this exists. That is not really democracy. Is it even ethical to "impose" our beliefs on others. How do we promote the ideas developed here to the "outside" world without imposing them where they are unwanted? I am all for promoting books but cringe at the thought of censorship. How do we promote the "good,clean, fun and knowledge" of the worlds opened by technology without censoring the trash that comes along with it? How do we, as Julia asks, assure that teachers respect intellectual property or any of the other myriad things that seem good use at the time only to infringe, impede, or simply embarrass someone.?

I ramble, I know, but this is really interesting stuff and I feel a need to just get my ideas out and let you help me put them into place.



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