OF PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
Section 2: A Historical Perspective
The current Code of Professional Ethics of the Association for Educational Communication and Technology (AECT) is closely intertwined with the history of the organization. What is now AECT began in 1923 as a division of the National Education Association (NEA), the Department of Audiovisual Instruction (DAVI). Thus, in 1998, AECT celebrated its 75th anniversary.
When the name changed from DAVI to AECT in 1971 (Saettler, 1990, p. 502), the officers of the new association were quick to recognize that a code of professional ethics was an important element for professional standing. In a landmark article written in 1952, Dr. James Finn of the University of Southern California noted that one essential element of a profession was "a series of standards and a statement of ethics which is enforceable" (Finn, 1952, p. 232). While discussing the elements that mark a profession, he explained:
The increasing number and complexity of situations arising from new technology make it imperative that DAVI make quite clear to its members, to publishers and to the public in general the ethical standards expected of our profession. (Hitchens, 1970, p. 120)
The AECT Code of Professional Ethics has been changed in minor ways since the early 1970s, but it very closely resembles the past and current code of the National Education Association. Of the 16 ethical statements in the 1975 NEA Code in use today, 10 items match closely with AECT's in content, and some are nearly identical. Some implications from the history of the ethical code are (1) it has been strongly influenced by educators' values; (2) enforcement has been more a matter of helping people understand and conform to ethical standards than of hauling them in for formal hearings after infractions occur. This publication, like the columns in TechTrends that preceded it, have continued that approach.
Hitchens, Howard, Jr. (1970). Six characteristics in search of a profession: Two. Audiovisual Instruction, 15:4 (April), 120.
National Education Association (1975). Code of ethics of the education profession. [Part of the NEA Home Page on the World Wide Web]. Washington, DC: Author: Retrieved May 8, 1998, from the World Wide Web: http://www.nea.org/info/code.html .
Saettler, Paul. (1990). The evolution of American educational technology. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.
Saettler, Paul. (1998). Antecedents, origins, and theoretical evolution of AECT. TechTrends, 43:1 (Jan./Feb.), 51-57.
Professor of Instructional Technology
Utah State University