Ethical Decisions in Instructional Materials Selection
Jim was having second thoughts about showing this video in class. Most exasperating was the fact that the content of the half-hour program was exactly what was needed for the class. The material was current and relevant. However, in ordering the material, it would necessarily become a part of the library collection and accessible to any student or patron wanting to use it. From his experience in the media services portion of his position, he realized that purchase of sexually explicit materials would violate the unspoken set of rules among his co-workers. He felt that the material was 90% on target, but he had reservations about the remaining 10%. Jim sat pondering his dilemma. Should he buy and use the video or not?
DiscussionThe AECT Code of Professional Ethics—Section 1, Principle 5
In fulfilling obligations to the individual, the members shall follow sound professional procedures for evaluation and selection of materials and equipment.
Jim Shipp found himself with a media selection decision involving a clash of cultural values. The material under consideration was authentic and had aired on European television. Part of his purpose in using authentic material in class was to involve students in the foreign culture and, yet, here was a part of that culture that could offend at least some of his students and colleagues. Was there a degree of sex role stereotyping (AECT Ethics Code, Section l, Principle 8) going on in the foreign culture? Even if there were, shouldn't members of his class have a right to access materials from varying points of view (AECT Ethics Code, Section l, Principle 2)? Wasn't his own academic freedom to pick material for his course being curtailed by having to purchase the entire package? Would he be on less controversial ground if a committee of his colleagues previewed and ruled on the appropriateness of the material?
After more reflection, Jim determined that the priority message for the class was about European technology, with the rock video clips acting merely as distraction or interference. Consequently, he felt he had three options: (l) edit the videotape by making a second recording that omitted the questionable segments (a potential copyright infringement); (2) use the footage counter in class to play only the desired sections; or (3) locate new material. These were Jim's thoughts as he prepared for class.
J. Nicholls Eastmond, Jr.