Exploring moral issues in designing online courses
David Carl Nielson, Brigham Young University, United States
Brigham Young University . Awarded
This study is an exploration of moral issues involved in the instructional design of on-line courses. Working as the manager responsible for placing courses on-line at a large university and reading the works of Thomas F. Green convinced me that moral issues and choices made by both instructional designers and faculty members influence the course development process and affect a course's quality. In testing this hypothesis using a comparative case-study approach, my research was focused on three specific moral “domains”—motivation and intent, sacrifice and investment, and professional conscience. After extensively interviewing several instructional designers and faculty members involved in designing on-line courses, I arrived at the following conclusions: (a) the motivation, intent, investment, and sacrifice of the faculty member, but not the instructional designer, appeared to influence the perceived quality of a course; (b) the professional conscience of the instructional designer, but not the faculty member, appeared to affect the perceived quality of a course; (c) several significant differences that are related to moral issues existed between the “highest quality” and “lowest quality” courses and were very predictive of course quality; (d) the personal relationship between instructional designer and faculty member influenced the course design process tremendously; (e) educational institutions need to do a much better job preparing instructional designers to understand and effectively deal with moral issues they may encounter; (f) some of my findings supported existing theory about the moral dimensions of teaching, such as Green's “conscience of craft”; and (g) some findings provide little support for existing theory, such as Green's “conscience of membership.” Overall, this study found that moral issues affect perceived course quality and should definitely not be ignored during the course design process. It also provides some discussion about implications and suggestions for future research focused on the moral dimensions of instructional design.
Nielson, D.C. Exploring moral issues in designing online courses. Ph.D. thesis, Brigham Young University.
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