Interdisciplinary research team explores ethical use of digital media in flexible learning study

Photo Credit: Hugo De Burgos (2014)
Right: Bowen Hui, Robert Campbell, Barbara Sobol, Bruce Young

Through a Provost’s Flexible Learning Research Grant four UBC specialists in digital media have joined forces to examine post-secondary students’ awareness of digital citizenship—defined as the appropriate ethical and responsible use of digital media.

How should we act when we are online?

Robert Campbell from the Faculty of Education, Bowen Hui, from the Barber School Department of Computer Science, Barbara Sobol from the UBC Okanagan library, and Bruce Young from the Centre for Teaching and Learning, will analyze responses of students in a flexible learner environment to examine post-secondary students’ awareness of digital citizenship.

The project will explore students’ awareness of elements such as digital access, digital etiquette, digital security, digital rights and responsibilities, and digital health and wellness.

Hui says, “being aware of digital citizenship is particularly important these days because we are all digital immigrants in a world where technology is always changing.”

The topic of digital citizenship is gaining momentum, and Sobol stresses how important ethical practice is when students’ products go beyond the classroom, saying, “the immediacy of digital information makes it so critical that students pay attention to proper acknowledgements, citations, and referencing.”

Similarly Young emphasizes the importance of ethical media use.

“Students can unwittingly commit small social gaffes or breaches of etiquette when using the web, but they may also commit serious legal and ethical violations in their on-line activities that can have huge consequences for them.”

The researchers are analyzing responses within the student population in the Faculty of Education and are planning to expand the study to examine results between students in various disciplines.

“Students come to class after viewing streamed video scenarios depicting ethical dilemmas of digital media use and then in class they engage in analysis and discussion of the implications of the scenes depicted in the videos,” explains Campbell.

The interdisciplinary team’s flexible learning study will provide insight into student perspectives on the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use.





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