Overhauling Ethics Education: Engaging Students Digitally Will Give Them a Better Learning Experience and Will Help Them Remember the Lessons throughout Their Careers

By Pope, Kelly Richmond | Strategic Finance, August 2015 | Go to article overview

Overhauling Ethics Education: Engaging Students Digitally Will Give Them a Better Learning Experience and Will Help Them Remember the Lessons throughout Their Careers


Pope, Kelly Richmond, Strategic Finance


CAN ETHICS BE TAUGHT?

That question was hotly debated among ethicists and other experts several years ago. And centuries prior, Socrates said that ethics could indeed be taught. Nevertheless, it appears that we're still struggling to teach the subject in a way that's engaging enough to stick with our students throughout their business careers. Moreover-and this isn't helping-business schools have given the topic relatively short shrift during a time when arguably we've needed it most.

"In order to be effective, ethics will need to be fully integrated into business curricula rather than offered as simply a stand-alone special assignment or as part of a discussion day," says Danny Lanier, Jr., an assistant professor of accounting at Elon University in Elon, N.C. In fact, according to a 2008 study conducted by the Aspen Institute Center for Business Education titled "Where Will They Lead?" master of business administration (MBA) students reported feeling less confident that their business school training was preparing them to manage conflicts as they progressed through their career.

Today we're at a crossroads in ethics education as we continue to search for ways to ensure that ethics content is impactful. Technological advancements have introduced new pedagogical approaches to ethics instruction, but many business school professors and continuing professional education (CPE) providers seem hesitant to adopt these new approaches. For education and training to be effective, there must be a willingness to adopt trends to build the solid ethical decision-making skills that current and future business leaders need. These trends include adopting a multimedia learning approach, integrating digital badging, promoting social learning, and incorporating microlearning platforms.

Teaching with Video: A Multimedia Approach

To put a twist on an old saying, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million. Video is a powerful medium for conveying information. A report published in 2012 by three British researchers indicated that video in the classroom can increase student engagement in addition to developing deeper learning of the subject matter. If we want to ensure ethical lessons will stick, we need to be certain to use methods that are long-lasting.

Many professors still rely on traditional lecture-based, text-heavy PowerPoint presentations that lack an interactive component. Sandi Mann, senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire in England, discovered that 60% of students find their lectures "boring" because of improper use of PowerPoint slides. What is "improper"? Quite frankly, when we use PowerPoint slides, we tend to prepare too many slides, incorporate too much information, and speed through the lecture faster than the learner can retain the information. If this has been your teaching or presenting style, it's time for a change.

Thankfully, new resources are entering the education marketplace that are disrupting the status quo and are more appealing to Millennials (defined as those in their late teens to early 30s). The company I founded three years ago, Helios Digital Learning, has introduced a suite of customizable and off-the-shelf products for academic institutions, corporations, professional educators, and government entities. Our primary products are video "e-cases" that are delivered digitally via desktop and mobile devices, as well as offered as on-site training. The e-cases are first-person, real stories told by white-collar felons, fraud victims, whistleblowers, and business leaders that are compelling, engaging, and informative. (The subjects volunteer their time.) Our clients include Virginia Tech, Boston University, Wake Forest University, the University of Washington, and Loyola University, to name a few.

Professors, students, and organizations enjoy e-cases because they're:

TIMELY. …

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