Social Ethics, Technology and the Curriculum

Article excerpt

The Center for the Study of Communication and Culture (CSCC) for more than 20 years has published an excellent academic communication resource entitled "Communication Research Trends." The quarterly journal addresses cutting-edge communication issues and offers thought-provoking insights and challenging questions linked to the contemporary world. The issue entitled "Cyberethics: Social Ethics Teaching in Educational Technology Programs" (Communication Research Trends, 2005) connects well with this issue of Momentum. Therefore, I would like to highlight a few of the interesting insights and comments shared by the authors in that issue.

They indicate that our ethical system that has been informed by the writings of Plato, Aristotle and the Judeo-Christian presence in the West is engaged in constant change as new social realities call us to re-think where we are today. Without attempting to address all the changes facing us, the authors focus on four ethical issues in cyberspace that they believe warrant a teacher's attention: intellectual property, privacy, anonymity and the digital divide. (Communication Research Trends, p. 4) The quarterly offers a brief review of factors influencing each of these issues. I would like to open the conversation for Catholic educators to explore relevant critical questions and concerns of each of these issues as they play out in educational environments that are becoming increasingly technologized.

Grooming Cyberzens

One of their earlier conclusions should not be new to most of us who have been involved in technology and education in the past 15 or so years. We continue to face the reality that courses concerning technology, ethics and society do not find their way into many of our teacher formation programs. We can consider our own undergraduate or graduate degree experiences or that of our younger colleagues now entering the teaching field. What is their background or learning experience in this area? If it exists, how are we integrating that experience into the fabric of our elementary or secondary curriculum?

As we prepare our students to be cyberzens of the new world order, how astute are they to the ethical challenges they may encounter? Can they name them? Are they equipped to respond? The journal authors conclude the "every university should add an ethics component and, perhaps, these courses will become capstone requirements for every educational technology program" (Communication Research Trends, p. 11).

Elements of the cyber world embracing our students are familiar to us. They consist of accessibility to expanding new technologies (emerging every day); student Web pages; e-mail; participation in discussion boards, chat rooms, ipodcasting; being bombarded with a plethora of useful and useless online information and more. It is this "instant community that the Internet provides that requires ethics as a complementary field of study" (Communications Research Trends, p. 10). But what should be included in such a field?

Catholic Blog

In order to explore this question from a Catholic school perspective, a blog has been established where Catholic educators and administrators can share how they are incorporating social ethics education and issues around technology into the curriculum. Go to www.Catholicschools. …