Ethical Issues

Ethical Issues in Mobile Learning: Scenarios to Aid Research Planning

As a professional association seeking to support the interests of its members we feel it essential that all new researchers should have access to tools to enable them to feel confident that they have planned for any ethical issues that are likely to arise during the course of their research. This is especially important to the field of mobile learning where new and ever more portable technologies are constantly emerging and where these devices include capabilities such as automatic location sensing and recording which are often novel to their owners.

During a workshop at MLearn 2012 held in Helsinki an extensive list of issues associated with ethical questions that need to be addressed when embarking on research into mobile learning was generated. Six key areas were selected from that list for associated scenario development. The scenarios have now been written up by Jocelyn Wishart of the University of Bristol, UK and are available from the links below:

a) Boundaries between formal-informal, public-private, home-school, real-virtual etc.
Scenario: Where do you stop?

b) Anonymity versus respecting desire to self-publish, the need for a digital identity
Scenario: Whose story is it?

c) 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?

d) 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?

e) Risk analysis – the unexpected consequences of complexity and the need to proceed iteratively and flexibly
Scenario: Whoops-a-daisy!

f) Participants’ awareness of device capabilities, what data is being logged etc , informed consent and participant voice, training
Scenario: What does ‘informed consent’ really mean?