Ethical Dilemmas and Distance Learning

July 17, 2003

No, I am not talking about the more mundane and universal matters entertained as associated with: is the person on the other end of the computer the person you think it is; has the student submitted plagiarized material.

These matters are more or less rather easily assayed. The learner who is ‘not present’ finally reveals him/ herself and the plagiarizm matter is uncovered utilizing such tools as ‘’

I am speaking of the underlying matters pertaining to the pedagogy underlying DL, who and what is funding the ‘teaching machine’, and, in part, alluding to matters reflective of Michele Foucault’s influential writings related to ‘who is speaking?’

Who is speaking?—-related to the forces sitting behind distance learning. As Bill Readings so articulately outlined in “The University in Ruins” the ‘who is speaking’ are multinational corporations such as Sylvan Learning Systems. I simply suggest here that such a multinational has its own agendas and that is very much wrapped around issues of ‘excellence’ which, as Readings stated, “‘Excellence’ is like the cash-nexus in that it has no content; it is hence neither true nor false, neither ignorand nor self-conscious.” (p. 13)

Readings, now decased, does not fall into the ‘twin’ traps of cynicism or radicalism. Rather, he suggests to us that we entertain that “The Scene of Teaching” is associated with a shared community which is quite probably not agreeable to the multinational corporations who spend their time accounting.

I believe there are many matters to be mapped out regarding the ethics of Distance Learning: what can it contribute; where are its short-falls; what had it better really look out for.

Sincerely, Marsha Hammond, PhD Licensed Psychologist, States of GA & NC