Code of Professional Ethics
Discussion of the Principles of the AECT Code of Professional Ethics
for Using This Book
Related to Ethical Principles:
Fulfilling the letter or the spirit of the
2. Ensuring diverse points of view
3. Putting a square peg in a round hole
4. Protecting an individual's right to
5. Ethical decisions in instructional
6. Computers: Issues of health and safety
7. Adopting and promoting new ideas
8. A clash of cultures
9. Harassment, bias, and discrimination
10. Whose views? Yours or your institutions?
11. All the facts, please
12. Competing with your employer
13. Handling gifts, gratuitites, and
14. Engaging in fair and equitable practices
15. Greasing the squeaky wheel
16. Influencing your colleagues
17. Exploiting professional affiliations
18. Helping one another
19. Is honesty the best answer?
20. An ethical approach to doing business
21. Fair assignment of responsibility
22. Facing new copyright challenges
23. When a colleague is wrong
of the AECT Code of Professional Ethics
and Information of Professional Ethics
Edited by Paul W. Welliver
Instructional System Program
The Pennsylvania State University
|Peter J. Dean
J. Nicholls Eastmond, Jr.
Jefferson N. Eastmond, Sr.
|Randall G. Nichols
Lloyd P. Rieber
Alice D. Walker
Paul W. Welliver
Andrew R. J. Yeaman
by Andrew R. J.
Chair, Committee on Professional Ethics
Association for Educational Communications and Technology
anyone need to read this book? What is your view as the Chair of the Professional
My answer is that
when professionals find themselves in difficult situations they should
be able to turn to their code of ethics for guidance in making decisions.
This book enables members of the educational communications and technology
community to visualize their professional ethics and see how those principles
ought to influence their actions.
me a sound bite.
There is nothing
else around like the book you have in hand. The Code of Professional
Ethics printed here was developed over time by AECT, the major professional
society, which is also actively supporting the publication of this book.
The illustrative cases were carefully developed over several years by
members of the AECT Professional Ethics Committee. The scenarios were
written under the guidance of Paul Welliver who first presented them
in the "Ethics Today" column in TechTrends. The
Code and this book are relevant to several overlapping fields and professions.
more like a 30-second spot.... So, tell me about Paul Welliver.
contribution as editor and organizer is exemplary. As an AECT President,
Paul was recognized for his leadership in advancing our profession.
Subsequently, in my opinion, his most notable contribution has been
in educating people about professional ethics. Through 10 years of service
as chair of the AECT Professional Ethics Committee, he caused the Code
of Ethics to be illustrated with scenarios. I believe they have been
effective in helping people understand what the Code's principles mean.
His latest consciousness-raising effort is the production of the work
before you now. It is important because beyond doing our jobs well,
Paul's lifelong leadership in professional ethics shows we can aim toward
being virtuous in our work.
matter except in the scandals about the rich, famous, and powerful we
read in the headlines or see on TV news?
It is difficult
for me to take those media images seriously but it is well known that
many books on ethics are being printed, sold in bookstores, and collected
in libraries. Try searching on-line for books with "Ethics" in
the title and you will find hundreds. Try to narrow the search by adding
"education" and there are still too many results. Use "ethics"
and technology" and you can identify almost 50 titles in print. There
is evidence of much serious concern about ethics in general.
Do you think
it makes any difference?
There are pessimistic
days when I wonder if anyone reads those books or if all the writing
on ethics has improved anything. Of course, the pessimistic days are
balanced by optimistic days when I wonder about how bad things could
be if there were no efforts toward being ethical.
confusing for people: It seems ethics are a philosophical subject.
Well, this book
describes how a profession's code of ethics is used to prescribe good
break it down for me. How are philosophical ethics different from professional
In philosophy there
is the effort to tell other people how to behave properly on the basis
of pure ideas. Results of actions are emphasized by consequentialists
whereas an ultimate sense of right and wrong action is emphasized by
deontologists. If you talk in this depth at a social gathering you will
probably impress people but they may have difficulty liking you, particularly
if the discussion becomes serious and you prove their beliefs are inconsistent.
None of these fine
points seems to matter much in professional ethics. The emphasis is on
verbally negotiating boundary disputes about who is entitled or qualified
to do what sort of work. This is an effort to tell other people how to
behave properly on the basis of professional power.
having a good argument is the best way to arrive at the truth?
We appear to live
in an adversarial society where the practice of staging debates limits
our thinking in bad ways. At present there is acceptance for the debating
strategy of evading truth by manufacturing doubt. The case study discussion
approach is open-ended in framing ethical issues. It is a suitable instructional
tactic because exact solutions to specific problems do not transfer
to real life where ambiguities need to be unraveled.
these professional ethics are merely traditional and ceremonial?
That was addressed
in my April 27, 1997, memo to the AECT Board of Directors, and it makes
a good conclusion to this Foreword. This memo from the Professional
Ethics Committee recommends the Board adopt an improvement in the Code
of Ethics. Specifically, the Committee recommends the creation of Section
1 Commitment of the Profession to Society (unanimously passed February,
1995). After much careful discussion about simple, general statements
with precise and understandable wording, consensus was reached for two
new principles (unanimously passed February 12, 1997). The Committee
will provide guidelines and interpretation by continuing the ~~Ethics
Today" column in TechTrends
Here is the text
to be added to the Code: Section 4
Commitment of the Profession to Society
obligations to society, the Association on behalf of the profession:
- Shall promote
safe and healthy technological learning environments.
- Shall promote
positive and minimize negative environmental impacts of educational
For more than 10 years the Professional Ethics Committee has greatly benefited
from the leadership of Paul Welliver toward increasing the awareness of
professional ethics among Association members. Among other actions, the
Committee has reviewed and revised the Code, added one new principle,
organized presentations, published scenarios interpreting each principle
in TechTrends, and currently has a book in production.
However, there has
been little enforcement and in the words of James D. Finn in the first
issue of Audio Visual Communications Review, ~~The publication
of codes of ethics and manuals of standards in itself guarantees nothing."
In the absence of complaints from our clients, whether they are trainee
airplane mechanics or sixth graders, Association members have not been
disciplined for violations of the Code.
Ethics Committee is active, nevertheless, and has on request provided
letters in support of members who stand by the Code in their professional
roles. It has also facilitated the processing of complaints between members
on matters that may be characterized as thoughtlessly offensive or unintentionally
rude. Formal hearings have not occurred and the Committee's procedures
were modified in the last couple of years to be consistent with the normal
practice of informal resolution.
The Committee became
concerned in the early l990s that the Code may lack true effectiveness.
Protecting the public by policing ourselves to identify quacks and charlatans
is not possible. Indeed, we should become more competitive with similar
professional organizations involved with technology by looking outside
of the Association and being explicitly committed to society.
The Committee worked
on the problem for several years. First, the Committee analyzed the situation
to understand what it meant. Second, the Committee considered possible
actions and outcomes. Third, the Committee decided to add a new section
to the Code. Fourth, the Committee deliberated over constructing new principles.
Section 4 of the AECT Code of Professional Ethics
Establishing Section 4 in the Code will remedy the deficiency in social
obligation. The principles in this section will show increased responsibility.
The Committee will act by developing guidelines, where they are needed,
and by publishing informative scenarios. For example, a draft scenario
for Principle 1 explains that furniture as well as equipment and software
must be appropriate when setting up computer learning stations. A draft
scenario for Principle 2 indicates that nonrenewable resources are a significant
factor in educational computing. Other principles under consideration
for Section 4 uphold cultural diversity, intellectual freedom, and open
access to information regardless of delivery medium. The Committee welcomes
any suggestions for further ways to demonstrate how the Association is
committed to society in our professional ethics.
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