Ethical Issues in Mobile Learning: Scenarios for Discussion

IAmLearn Presents Six Scenarios for Mobile Learning

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Ethics is not usually top of mind when we are starting planning to build a new app or mobile website, but it should not be forgotten.

Aside from the occasional presentation, there is little written about this topic, as I noted in a book review in 2011.

But, a group of researchers in Europe affiliated with the International Association for Mobile Learning (IAmLearn) continues to think and write about this area. In particular, Jocelyn Wishart of the University of Bristol, UK, has developed six scenarios related to the ethics of mobile learning research.

The six scenarios are:

  1. Boundaries between formal-informal, public-private, home-school, real-virtual, etc. Scenario: Where do you stop?
  2. Anonymity versus respecting desire to self-publish, the need for a digital identity. Scenario: Whose story is it?
  3. Accessibility – people who are differently able / less educated / come from different cultures, etc. and what this means regarding costs e.g. for devices to access Internet and cultural pressures. Scenario: Who Pays?
  4. Ownership & author rights – whose data is on the mobile or on the server, who owns it, what about images? Is the owner the person taking the picture or is it the person in the picture? Scenario: Who does it belong to?
  5. Risk analysis – the unexpected consequences of complexity and the need to proceed iteratively and flexibly. Scenario: Whoops-a-daisy!
  6. Participants’ awareness of device capabilities, what data is being logged, etc., informed consent and participant voice, training. Scenario: What does ‘informed consent’ really mean?

The IAmLearn has a quarterly newsletter and an annual conference (next one in Qatar in October 2013). It is mostly made up of academics that are researching and writing about the field of mobile learning.

While you are on their website, you may want to join IAmLearn.

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Gary Woodill is a senior analyst with Float, as well as CEO of i5 Research. Gary conducts research and market analyses, as well as assessments and forecasting for emerging technologies. Gary is the co-editor of "Mastering Mobile Learning," author of “The Mobile Learning Edge,” and the co-author of “Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds.” He also presents at conferences and is the author of numerous articles and research reports on emerging learning technologies. Gary holds a doctor of education degree from the University of Toronto.

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On August 19, 2013

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