OF PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
A Guide to Professional Conduct in the Field
of Educational Communications and Technology
Code of Professional Ethics
Discussion of the Principles of the AECT Code of Professional Ethics
for Using This Book
Situations Related to Ethical Principles
Enforcement of the AECT Code of Professional Ethics
and Information of Professional Ethics
Section 5: Suggestions for Using This Book
This publication has a number of uses. The potential audience for its
message ranges the entire spectrum from the newcomer to the experienced
Dr. Phillip Cochran, Director of the Center for the Study of Business
and Public Issues at Pennsylvania State University, was the principal
investigator for an extensive study of the existence and use of codes
of professional ethics in business and industrial settings. Some of his
findings have relevance to all professions. Outstanding among these was
the discovery of the importance of regular reminders of the existence
and importance of the code. As reported in the Penn State publication
Intercom, according to Dr. Cochran, "Some executives might
fear that ongoing reminders about ethics codes risk belaboring the point.
But instead of simply turning off the message, managers in such circumstances
tended to consider the codes more meaningful to their own work than managers
who didn't get regular reminders."
In addition to acquainting the educational technology professional with
the AECT Code of Professional Ethics and providing interpretations of
its principles, this book can serve the function described above by becoming
a constant reminder of the Code and its importance in our day-to-day professional
activities. The following are some suggestions about how the book can
be used to serve this variety of functions. Many of these ideas are based
on successful techniques that have been developed by members of the AECT
Professional Ethics Committee as they have worked with, and tested, some
of the components of this book.
Use in Academic Programs Preparing Educational Technology Professionals
Most graduate programs in instructional technology have an introductory
course that acquaints new students to the field. This is an ideal time
to orient these new professionals to the Code of Professional Ethics and
have them begin to consider it as a standard for their professional behavior.
Some activities that have been effective in stimulating thought and spirited
discussion are listed below. Although it is preferable to introduce students
to the importance of ethical behavior as early in their graduate programs
as possible, these activities have also proved to be effective in advanced
graduate courses and seminars.
- Have students read one of the situations described in Section
6 of this book and, individually, pick out the principle from the
Code of Professional Ethics that most closely
relates to that scenario. Because more than one principle may be selected
have members of the class discuss which ethical principle seems to be
most applicable to the situation.
- There is a good chance that while engaged in the discussion in the
previous activity, there will be a variation in opinion as to which
of the principles of the Code is most relevant. Because many of these
situations related to more than one principle, discuss the other principles
from the Code that apply.
- Have students share incidents that they have encountered in their
own experience that posed an ethical dilemma to them personally, were
situations in which they observed someone behaving unethically, or were
situations in which someone displayed the courage to take the proper
and ethical action when faced with a difficult decision.
- Have students prepare written situations and discussions, related
to a principle in the Code of Professional Ethics
, in the format used in the TechTrends columns that have been
compiled in Section 6 of this publication.
These situations can then be presented to the class for consideration
and discussion. Some students may wish to forward their work to the
Chair of the AECT Professional Ethics Committee (address given in the
Introduction) for possible publication.
- Students enjoy teaming up with one or two fellow students to prepare
and act out ethics-related situations that can then be discussed by
the entire class.
- Discuss Principle 9 in Section 3 . It
is with this principle that students encounter the most difficulty and,
as a result, it usually generates a spirited discussion.
- As suggested in the discussion of Professor Cochran's research cited
above, it is important that there be regular reminders of the existence
and content of the Code. Therefore, following an introduction to the
Code of Professional Ethics with activities such as the ones described
above, it is important that faculty and students continue to cite the
Code and point out issues of ethics as they encounter them in subsequent
courses and other interactions.
- Ask students to identify the scenario that is most like one that
they have encountered or that surprised them the most and analyze their
responses in relation to the suggested response.
- Ask students to develop a visual display depicting the application
of one or more of the principles in an educational or training site
as a way of acquainting the educational technology professional, along
with other educators, with the AECT Code of Professional Ethics. This
display could include one or more media, such as a Web page, a museum
piece, a poster, or a video. The key is that it be conceptualized as
communication to a mass audience.
Use in the Workplace
- Place a copy of this book in a prominent location on your desk or
bookshelf so that it will be highly visible and will be a constant reminder
of the ethical principles that guide your professional activities.
- Suggest to your colleagues that they, too, keep a copy of this book
or, at least, a copy of the AECT Code of Professional Ethics in a prominent
location in their offices.
- When you encounter a newspaper report of an ethics-related situation
in some area of society, circulate it to your colleagues with a reference
to the principle from the AECT Code of Professional Ethics that would
apply to that situation if it had occurred in the context of an educational
communications and technology environment.
- If someone comes to your office with an idea or proposal for action
that you consider to be questionable ethical practice, use the book
as a reference and suggest that the notion be tested against a standard
of the principles that are set forth in the Code.
- A school district technology specialist reported that, during a school
board meeting, an ethically sensitive issue was being discussed when
the chair of the board turned to him for his perspective. The technology
specialist used one of the situations described in a TechTrends
column to help the board put their own situation into proper perspective.
If you encounter additional effective ways to use this book, please
share them with the Chair of the AECT Professional Ethics Committee (address
provided in the Introduction to this book) so that they can be passed
on to others who are concerned about improving the level of ethical behavior
in the field of Educational Communications and Technology.