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Creating an Ethical Classroom: How to promote responsible and
ethical use of technology within the classroom

Aim of Research

The aim of this research is to
highlight the importance of using ICT ethically within the learning environment
to best create an ethical classroom to suit all learning styles. It is
important to make educators aware of issues associated with the use of online
technology in education. This research will focus on issues such as copyright
issues, cyber bulling, internet use and the use of social networks. Taking this
into consideration this research aims to explore how ICT could support an
ethical and positive classroom climate.


Chapter 2: Literature Review


2.1 Introduction: What is Ethics

have noted that the definition of ethics is obscure and elusive. The word
ethics stems from the Greek word ‘ethos’. Ethos is a set of beliefs or ideas which
focus on a set of moral behaviours, standards and relationships. In the
literature there are many concepts that define ethics. Much of the literature
defines ethics as a guide in which individuals and organisations follow within
society. Mathur and Corley (2014, p.137) point out that ethics is not
restricted to the individual but also to organizations such as schools and
businesses. According to BBC (2014) who state in their ethics guide, ethics can
be defined as a structure of moral principles which affects how people make
decisions in their daily lives. Similarly, educatetogether.ie (2008, p.8) compose
the same idea in their research as they believe that ethics can be defined as a
person’s ‘beliefs, ideas, and theories that facilitate the setting of

Gülcan (2015,
p. 2623) however concedes, as he deduces that ethics can be simplified as to what
is right or wrong and it is in schools that students learn the difference of
what is wrong and what is right. Gülcan argues that morals and ethics are
different, and should be treated as two different subjects within education.

While Gülcan
agrees that both ethics and morals ‘have the same roots’, he defines morals as
‘manner’ and ethics as ‘character’. Nevertheless, Smith (2012, p. 8) insists
that morals is based on the idea of right and wrong. Research suggests that
morals and ethics are strongly intertwined.

addition to this, Sternberg (2016) claims that teaching ethics in a school
comes with issues. With different cultures in the classroom, what is deemed
right and wrong is interchangeable. As with different cultures, religions and
beliefs, what one individual deems right may not concur with what another
individual deems as right. In the same breath, Sternburg explains that there are certain ‘core values’ which are
almost the same in every culture. These are ‘honesty’, ‘compassion’ and
‘sincerity’ which schools do evoke in their ethos. Starrett (2005, p. 8)
concedes with the above views, as he states that even in the most diverse areas
a basic set of core ethic values can be found. Starrett (2005, p.11) notes how
America, with it’s a vast diversity in classrooms has set a common core ethic which
aims to ‘bind’ students with diverse backgrounds together.

Mathur and Corley (2014, p.137) note
that there are two views on how to be ethical. One focuses on words such as
‘rights, values, morals’ while the other focuses on ‘professionalism, code of
conduct and policies’. They note that both viewpoints have one thing in common,
they both believe that within education it is important to be ethical in
decision making. However, Mathur and Corley also note in their research on
‘Bringing Ethics into the classroom’ that educators in America deal with
ethical decision making differently. Factors such as personal beliefs and
morals come into play when making ethical decisions. Bullough (2011) noted in
his research that educators handle ethical issues based on two views. Some
educators deal with ethical decision making based on their own personal beliefs
and life experiences while the other focus on social and ‘institutional norms.’
Absolutism and relativism are two approaches which one can take. Absolutism are
dogmatic in their approach and believe there are rules which should be
followed, however a relativist takes a more pragmatic approach as they believe
there are many rules, and these can change over time depending on the situation
which may arise, they believe each situation must be assessed before deciding.

(Kirkwood, 2014). Based on the analysis of research found it can be deduced
that there is a strong need for educators to get support to effectively
implement an ethical classroom. Through support ethical grey areas such as the
issues mentioned above can begin to dwindle out and have less of an impact on
educator’s decision making. As teachers coming into teaching are bringing in
their own values when making professional judgements. It is evident that professional
judgements are merging with personal values.

2.2 Defining the Ethical
Classroom and how to create ethical classroom

to Pittella and Rostein (2017) an ethical classroom is like a ‘good home’. An
ethical classroom is a place which fosters learning, sharing and trust.  An ethical classroom places responsibility of
learning on students. A popular quote by Aristotle (as cited in Chapman-Clarke, 2016, p.266) is fitting as he states,
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” This
quote speaks volumes when discussing ethical classrooms. As Moore (2013)
discusses in her TED talk on ‘Cowboy Ethics in the Classroom’ there is a need
for teachers to focus on ‘inspiring students rather than instructing them.’ This statement conquers with Aristotle and Pittella
and Rostein, as through inspiring students rather than instructing them, you
are creating a safe learning environment and in turn have effectively created
an ethical classroom.

points out in his work that there are five principals of ethics which should be
taught (as cited in education.com, 2009). These are; ‘do no harm, make things
better, respect others, be fair and be loving.’ To successfully promote an
ethical classroom, educate together
(2008, p.3) have argued that more focus needs to be placed on monitored
learning. This can be created by educators by developing a space for
discussion, debates and reflections. Learning to live together (2008) a
programme which was launched in 2008, agree as they state the overall aim is to
develop a safe learning environment which in turn will foster critical thinking
and self-driven learning. Educate together also highlight that assessment
should reflect the learning in the course and the teacher’s role should change
from knowledge presenter to the guide on the side facilitating learning rather than
being the injector. In doing so the role of learning has now be placed on
students, rather than the teacher being the holder of all knowledge.

argues that ethics can be taught as it is ‘teachable as any other discipline’.

It is important that teachers ensure that ethical instructions are ongoing as
one lesson will not suffice. Learning to live programme note that ethics is
more than teaching the curriculum it is about relationship building. (2008, p
14). Narvaez (2007, p.2) found in her research on ‘The Guide the Checklist for
an Ethical Classroom’, that when a positive student teacher relationship
develops the learning environment benefits as students feel safe and have a
‘sense of belonging’. Narvaez created a checklist as a guide for educators to
ensure they create an ethical learning environment. This guide promotes
designing a classroom with ‘moral character development’ and makes the reader
aware how ethical their classroom is. This checklist is a good tool for educators
to use to assess their weaknesses and strengths on how ethical their classroom
is and identifies what they aspects they can improve.

reoccurring theme throughout the literature is the importance of the inclusion
and involvement of parents in creating an ethical school and classroom. Starrett
(2005, p.12) argues that one fundamental feature of creating an ethical school
is to get the involvement of parents as he states that parental involvement is
a core component of creating ethical classrooms. In doing so teachers can gain
insight into the student and parents to create a safe place, where ethics is at
the forefront. Schlenk et al (2014, p.32) concurs with Starrett, as they too
highlight the importance of parent and teacher collaboration. They express that
parents and teachers should ‘exchange information regularly on behaviour and
life circumstances, social and economic background of the family’. For this to
happen Schlenk notes that schools need to create an inviting environment which
welcomes all. Schlenk suggest that schools with multi-lingual staff, students
and parents should include signs around schools with various languages and not
just in English. This will insure inclusion of all and respect. It is important
that schools then include dates to arrange meetings, where important themes are
discussed with parents. As Mathur and Corley (2014, p.136) suggest teachers who
are ethically aware can meet students’ needs and reduce disruption behaviours.

Teaching Councils Professional Code of Conduct (2012) state that the teacher’s
role is to care, be fair and acknowledge the needs of students. They also argue
for inclusion by respecting diversity of students, including their race, family
status and gender. The Teaching Council have stated the importance of the
teacher putting aside their personal beliefs to ensure that ethical decision
making is created free from personal judgements. Teachers need to ensure they
have moral reactions. This falls into the section of ‘professional integrity,
private interests and professionalism’ in the work place, it is key that the
lines do not get blurred to prevent any conflicts affecting students

2.3What concepts have emerged

previously stated, by Weinstein, and noted by Mathur and Corley (2014, p.)
there are five important ethical concepts within education. These include
goodness, truth, sense of self, justice and the responsibility to do no harm. While
these aspects are important for ethical education, Schlenk et al (2014, p.)
highlights the dialogical nature of ethics ‘prescribes openness towards the
other’ and openness in growth and learning. Taylor et al (1995, p.3) note that
there are certain conditions needed for open discourse which include trust,
respect and commitment. The Teaching Councils code of Conduct (2012, p.5)
states that a teacher can embody openness through the ethical value of trust.

The teacher can create openness through embodying honest, fair and open
relationships with school’s management, staff, parents and students.

ethics of caring can improve not only relationships but academic performance by
students. According to the Teaching Council’s Code of Professional Conduct
(2012, p.5) the teacher’s role is to educate and there are four ‘ethical values
which underpin the standards of teaching, knowledge, skill, competence and
conduct set out by this code. A caring teacher is driven by the best possible
interests of the students. A caring teacher has a positive influence and
practice and shows empathy.  For a
teacher to show respect in an ethical manner they must be aware of emotional
and cognitive development. This resonates with Pilergneo and Educate Togethers
theory that educating is more than teaching the curriculum. The teacher needs
to be aware of the spiritual, religious, cultural and uniqueness of each

(2012, p.28) argues that teachers play an essential role in students’ lives. They
state that teachers are considered as role models.  Although the study finds that only sixteen
percent saw teachers as role models, they believe that it is very likely that
teachers seen as role models are much greater than the results have indicated.  Lumpkin (2008, p.48) argues that integrity is the
most important ethical value.  Lumpkin
describes integrity as constantly doing what is right even when doing wrong may
be easier.  Also noted by Lumpkin is a
survey on The Ethics of American Youth conducted by the Josephson Institute of
Ethics (2006) where findings showed that sixty percent of students admitted to
cheating on a test at school. Through integrity the teacher will model the
importance of the life long quest to do the right thing even if the wrong thing
may seem easier. Thus, integrity can make students aware of the ethical issues
of cheating on school exams. As clearly stated by Schlenk et al (2012, p.30)
teachers are continuously role models for students and teachers should take
this role with due care and responsibility. By implementing the core values of
ethics, a teacher will demonstrate equal respect to all students, both
cognitively and emotionally.


3: Methodology



Desk Research Readings


Desk research was the first step in this
research. Desk research involved gathering information and data already
available through published and electronic material, with focus on academic

literature on ethical use of ICT in classrooms focuses on the importance of
educators in taking responsibility to create a safe online learning
environment. With the growing use of online learning a variety of new issues
have become evident in the ‘academics’ which may have not of been seen in the
traditional classroom setting. Tavani (2011, p.13) notes that with this rise of
online forums and learning their will inevitability be a rise in ethical
concerns. There is now more than ever a strong need for educators to become
more adaptable and learn how to best deal with these issues (Palloff, Pratt,
2007, p.7). Crystal (2003) suggests one important method to use to prevent or
stop issues arising is for schools to make students aware of how they use
technology is as much an ‘ethical issue as hacking….’.

and Pratt mention the ‘Pew Report’ which also notes how students have concerns
with the ‘disconnect’ between how they use the internet in school, in lessons
and how teachers instruct them to use the internet during class time. In this
report it highlights important issues addressed by both students and parents on
how students gather their information for studies online rather than in a
physical book. Reading books has been replaced with researching online sources
instead to complete school assignments. When attempting to create an ethical
classroom one important component to include is student voice. The Pew Report
has argued in their research that a gap between educators and learners has lead
way for educators to become more aware of changing their teaching methodologies
to allow for online forums and classes to become more prevalent.

theorists have argued that the ‘Perry Schema of intellectual and ethical
development’ is the most efficient way to understand students’ knowledge,
skills and learning and many more (Prichard and Sawyer, 1994 p. 46). This
scheme has a huge focus on critical thinking.