When I learned that Stephanie Moore and Tonia Dousay were editing a volume on ethics in educational technology, I jumped at the chance to write something on data ethics. Stephanie and Tonia’s book is now published on Royce Kimmons’s open access EdTechBooks platform as Applied Ethics for Instructional Design and Technology, and my chapter is available alongside six others on other subjects related to ethics and educational technology. Here’s a link to the online version, and I have a PDF archived on my website.
In writing about data ethics in education(al technology), I wanted to surface something that had been obvious to me for some time: Different assumptions about education, educational technology, research, and other phenomena shape how people approach ethical questions related to data collection and use. That may seem obvious when stated like that, but it surprises me how often explicit or implicit disagreements about what is ethical behavior actually reflects deeper disagreements. In my chapter, I consider four questions and how assumptions about the answers to those questions shape the way that stakeholders approach data
- What is the purpose of education?
- What is the purpose of educational technology?
- What determines quality in educational (technology) research?
- Who has what say in these domains?
Here’s the abstract for my chapter for further insight into what I’ve written:
Deeper assumptions frequently shape the ways educational technology stakeholders collect and use data. This influence of assumptions on data decisions makes it critical that educational technology stakeholders engage with deeper assumptions as part of ethical considerations; indeed, they are key to ensuring that stakeholders engage with structural issues in education and educational technology rather than use ethical compliance as a superficial nod to questions of justice, harm, and power. In this chapter, I illustrate the relationship between deep assumptions and data ethics by considering assumptions related to four broad questions about the purpose of education, the purpose of educational technology, the determination of quality in educational (technology) research, and who has what say in these domains. Debates about data ethics are often better understood as debates about these deeper assumptions, which must be surfaced to consider data ethics in our field thoroughly.
Writing this chapter was an excellent exercise in becoming more familiar with the critical ed tech literature and in honing an argument that had been bouncing around my head for some time prior to putting fingers to keyboard. I’m proud of what came out of that process, and I look forward to any and all feedback!
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