Monday, June 6, 2016

Law & Ethics influence on professional practice (Week 29)

Applied Practice in Context (APC) - Law & Ethics influence on professional practice

Activity 5: 'Legal and ethical contexts in my digital practice'

We are constantly being asked to make objective judgements on issues through the process of ethics, yet many of these ethics are based on theories of morality. Ethics are not a single topic you can study in isolation but are a foundation upon which you live and practice. Everything you do, every decision you make, has ethics at its core, driving or motivating your actions and decisions.

Colleste (2012, p. 30) stated that Professional ethics develops within a community of professionals as a result of a tradition of moral thinking. “Applied ethics is the art or science of reflecting on moral dilemmas and moral problems in different social contexts and is an academic discipline analysing moral problems in different social arenas.” Colleste (2012)

In today's age, ethical dilemmas are unavoidable and the use of social media makes us all even more vulnerable to the 'not so good' decisions and hindsight. Therefore it is vital to establish safeguards and consider what the purpose is of using social networking, as mentioned in a video from the Education Council.

The Education Council of New Zealand also has four fundamental principals for professional interactions of teachers:
1. Autonomy to treat people with rights that are to be honoured and defended
2. Justice to share power and prevent the abuse of power
3. Responsible care to do good and minimise harm to others
4. Truth to be honest with others and self

These principals are very broad, hence the importance of following the correct procedures when using social media. (The Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand 2016).

As an active user of social media forms like Twitter, Google+, Blogger and Facebook, I am very conscious of my privacy settings, however when typing my name into a search engine, it was disturbing to see all that was visible to the world, although there was nothing to be ashamed of. Having seen the evidence of my digital footprint I am thinking of how our students interact online...

My school is making use of individual student blogs as ePortfolios and that being the case, we are all in agreement that it is important that Digital Citizenship/ Cyber Safety are being taught from a young age. We strive to keep our students as safe as possible by using the 'Cyber Safety Use Agreement for Primary Students'.

Blogs/ePortfolios can be private, but many schools prefer it to be open to enable collaboration, to share and celebrate students' learning. Feedback from our parents are that students often tell them about an activity, or a piece of work, they have been engaged in. Therefore our class blog and ePortfolios are used as a means of maintaining an effective communication between home and school. When checking these blogs (sometimes late in the evening) parents get to see images or videos of what children have described. There is an enjoyment of having the opportunity to provide specific feedback to students, and teachers and parents appreciate this additional way of being involved in the learning process.

I only publish positive things on our class blog about students' learning, but I think we should not loose sight of how students might feel in years to come when [still] seeing their learning from years ago online.

Although I have yet to deal with a situation, it is [still] frightening to see how 'open' our lives are once we engage with an online environment.

Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers Retrieved from:

Collste, G.(2012) Applied and professional ethics. Kemanusiaan, 19(1), 17–33.

New Zealand Teachers Council.(2012). Establishing safeguards.[video file]. Retrieved from

The Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand 2016

~ "Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do." - Potter Stewart ~


  1. Nice post Marnel.
    You're right to be very careful about posting things online. It's amazing how much of our information we don't have control over though. A couple of years ago my Year 13s found my old school photo because someone at our local library decided it would be a good idea to digitally archive all the school year books. They also found my address because I once made a submission to a Parliamentary select committee and that was also published online. Yikes.
    It is a huge responsibility, to be taken seriously, when dealing with our own students information/work/images etc.
    Paul (Welly)

    1. Thanks Paully!
      The one thing that makes me feel a bit uneasy is the part that we don't really have control over the information that is being used. I was amazed to see (when typing my name in a search engine) that one of my tweets (in 2014!) was used in someone's blog post. I did not even know about it, but what I've tweeted was all good though!
      This just shows how important it is to be a role model. I think we should also educate our students not to share photos or other information without the permission of that person.
      What a huge task we do have!

  2. It isn't easy to keep our children safe on-line. Stranger danger takes on a whole new meaning. You need to keep yourself safe too, not just in what you post but in what you do on your teacher laptop too.

    It does seem unfair that we carry a great responsibility with everything we say and do, but then that is part of teaching. We are there to help keep our students safe.

    It is a brave new digital world that our students inhabit. They often don't see the dangers, so we need to be their thoughtful guardians, not to scare them, but to hep them to develop into responsible digital citizens of the future who think before they post, and know how to keep themselves safe.

    1. I fully agree with you Ruth.

      I use 'Hector's World' to teach Digital Citizenship/ Cyber Safety to my 5 year old students. Every time they use online 'tools', we have discussions about what should be put online and we have also been talking about a/their Digital Footprint.

      My students are exposed to many opportunities to practice how to be safe online in a safe classroom environment.

      I have noticed that they are [already] thinking carefully about what they 'do' online and can only hope that they will continue to be responsible in this digital world of ours.

  3. Thanks for your post Marnel. My question to you is that a lot of school shy away from using individualized digital tools with young learners. What do you see as the major benefits to starting at such a young age and do they outweigh the dangers?

    As mentioned in previous comments - it is really hard to teach stranger danger to kids that can't physically see the dangers. Do you think the kids can comprehend the environment?

    It is great that you have noticed they are already thinking carefully about what they do in their digital world! impressive!

    1. Thank you for your question Hancine.

      A good read I recently came across is this post which outlines the 'benefits of exposing young children to modern technology'

      Children grow up in a world of technology/interactive media and I think it is our responsibility as educators to guide them in using 'the right' tool(s) to support their learning. Therefore we also have to ensure that they are able to comprehend the dangers - I think it is good to make connections here to 'physical' dangers which they can more easily relate to themselves and then taking it further and explain the dangers of the world wide web...