Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

AN ETHICS FRAMEWORK for Nursing Education on the INTERNET

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

AN ETHICS FRAMEWORK for Nursing Education on the INTERNET

Article excerpt

AS UNIVERSITIES WORLDWIDE INTRODUCE INTERNETBASED COURSES AND DEGREES, AND MANY CAMPUS-BASED CLASSES USE WEB SUPPORT, THE RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH AND TEACHING IS A SOURCE OF ETHICAL CONCERN. This article provides an assessment of the tools and traditions that have supported ethical practice in nursing and offers strategies to ensure that the standards of nursing education now in place in colleges and universities can be sustained with Internet delivery. These strategies also apply to consultation using the Internet and potential collaborations across education and practice sites.

ABSTRACT An ethics framework for the use of the Internet for nursing education, consultation, research, and practice is proposed.The proposed framework, discussed in terms of structure, process, and outcome, would guide policy for confidentiality, privacy issues, professionalism, ownership of intellectual property, accountability, and control of access. A goal would be to encourage creative problem solving without constant reference to authority.

THE OPTIONS PRESENTED INCLUDE codes of ethics, informed consent, rules for truth telling, university and college policies, and models of ethical behavior. The purpose of the broad array of options is to encourage creative problem solving in areas such as plagiarism, ownership of chat room dialogue, the development of leadership, and the need for ethical decision-making without constant reference to authority (I).

PROVIDING AN ETHICAL FRAMEWORK for nursing education on the Internet requires three perspectives: structure, process, and outcome. Structure is discussed later in this article under Education and Consultation Policy for Internet Learning. Process appears under Rules of Engagement on the Internet. Outcomes of ethical Internet use follows in Advocacy for an Ethics-Based Internet for Nursing Education and Consultation.

An Ethics Framework As with all aspects of nursing education, research, and practice, it is important that the use of the Internet lor nursing purposes be anchored by an ethics framework that guides the transition from managing functions and influencing the culture toward a reliance on values. The ethical direction is toward personal control rather than organizational control and, as such, parallels the Internet itself, where control tends to lie with the individual rather than with the institution or corporation.

The authors maintain that there is an internal focus of control over ethical decisions that is derived from the nature of learning on the Internet. For example, online examinations need to be structured to require critical thinking rather than just information retrieval, and the instructor needs to clearly state what is ethical in terms of student work. Leadership on rules for plagiarism and clear expectations for the independence of student work must come from the faculty member. The concept of good faith in these expectations is a first step in modeling student behavior.

Foundations for a Code of Ethics for Teaching and Learning

A code of ethics provides a benchmark for interpreting the public interest as it deals with conflict and guides the academic enterprise in values-based decision-making. In essence, a code of ethics enables decision-making without constant reference to authority.

Values conflict exists in many health care situations, as well as in the teaching and learning continuum. Examples of conflictingvalues would be the allocation of resources for an individual's care when the same resources could benefit the community and its population, and patient versus organizational concerns, such as profit margin, in managed care settings (2).

Because they are the rules for evaluating behavior, codes of ethics can be reactive or disciplinary, or they can be proactive, serving as a guide for our actions and decisions. If universities and colleges are to create, and therefore enforce, a code of ethics for the Internet, they must rely on the voluntary acceptance of the code by students and faculty. …

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