Wednesday, 13 June 2018

TML Wk 28: Influence of Law and Ethics in Practice

My post this week relates to the Influence of Law and Ethics in Practice.  In response to this I will be reflecting on a previous experience with a Provisionally Certified Teacher (PCT) breaching our school privacy guidelines.  I will discuss this considering what happened using Rolfe’s (2001) reflective model to unpack it.  This takes the form of three simple questions, “what”, “so what” and “now what”.

At our school all students in Year 3-6 have their own school Google Suite for Education account.  The PCT of a Year 3 class was teaching them to use their account and had on display each child's class login and password.  A parent brought to my attention that her daughter's work had been tampered with as a result of the passwords being on display (another child had signed into the student's account and ruined their work because of the passwords being insecure due to teacher error).  

So What?
It is important that our staff uphold and model best practise with using digital technology and being a digital citizen.  A privacy guideline from our policy states "We have reasonable safeguards in place to protect personal information from loss, unauthorised access, use, or disclosure.  These safeguards include the use of individual logins for computers" (2018).  In this case, the young PCT had breached privacy by displaying the logins and passwords for all students in her class, causing a student to take advantage and destroy another child's work (digitally).  This made tracing the offender very difficult, as the document didn't have shared authorship; the offender used the child's login/password.  As a school leader I was able to use the history feature of the G. Suite to print evidence and timestamps of when specific changes had been made to the student's document and provide this as evidence for the parent.  

Now What?
The dilemma for myself and the PCT was how to do to use this as a learning opportunity for these young learners regarding sharing passwords, appease the parent that action had been taken, and support the PCT on how best to manage digital technologies in class with her learners. On reflection it would have been useful to have been able to use Ehrich et al. (2011) “model of ethical decision-making” as it would have not only given ourselves some clear directions but also may have been useful to show the parent how I thoroughly considered all aspects of the breach (the seriousness of the issue) and dealt accordingly. The strength of using a model like Ehrich et al. (2011) is the way in which it breaks down each of the components of the incident. Whether these are around legal issues, professional ethics or areas of public interest and relates these to the implications for us as individuals, organisations and communities.  In this case, I went into the classroom and took several lessons for the PCT/students around digital citizenship and strong passwords.  This satisfied the parent, the learners understood the seriousness of the issue and learnt how to protect their password, the PCT felt supported and as a leader I felt satisfied the dilemma had been resolved for all involved. I had acted with professionalism and integrity upholding our school Code of Conduct (2016) when interacting with the student/s, parent, and staff member with this dilemma.
Image result for Ethical Decision-Making Model Ehrich

Word count: 541 


Ehrich, L. C. , Kimber M., Millwater, J. & Cranston, N. (2011). Ethical dilemmas: a model to understand teacher practice, Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 17:2, 173-185, DOI: 10.1080/13540602.2011.539794

Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., Jasper, M. (2001) Critical reflection in nursing and the helping professions: a user’s guide. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sunnyhills School Board of Trustees, (2018). Privacy Guidelines.  School Docs retrieved from 

Sunnyhills School Board of Trustees, (2016). Code of Conduct.  Internal School Document.


Sarah Lees said...

A great read Justine! This post has given me some good food for thought as I blog my post. As a newish teacher as well (3rd year in), I have realised how it is all to easy to put the 'bull before the gate' and implement a digital innovation before firstly making sure I have done my risk assessment. This ethics task has been a good eye opener for me as to how I can continue to inform my own digital practise with a bit of an ethical hat too.

Mrs Nelson said...

Some good points made Justine. An easy thing to do. Using modern technology as a teaching platform in the classroom and with greater access to social media, we as Teachers and educators now face and become answerable to new challenges and implications. It's impossible to think ahead of all the variables and possibilities that could arise through using technology as a teaching medium. As Teachers, our students welfare is always at the forefront, however, sometimes we miss something and get it wrong. It's a good thing we can reflect on such incidents and use these as a learning step moving forward. Definitely food for thought - thanks for sharing.

Dean Keswell said...

It has become so easy now for teachers to breach privacy especially when using a data projector and then forgetting the screen is still on and then going into Kamar to do their roll or going into student details and thus unknowingly showing student details to the whole class.

Natasha Leafberg said...

Hi Justine,

That was dealt with in a very positive way. Every one makes mistakes and it's the way that these mistakes are dealt with which is the most important part of the process. I think the ability to take it on as a learning opportunity is the best approach. There is no point mulling over what happened because it won't change anything and proves to be counterproductive
In this digital world, mistakes like this will happen time and time again. It's not the mistakes that matter anymore, it's how to move on from them that is at the core of digital literacy.

Sally Potter said...

What an interesting read Justine. Made me think about human error and absolutely no one is exempt from it. Especially with the fast pace that digital citizenship seems to be involving from my perspective. I like the way you spoke about the learning situation for everyone because I believe all stake holders have the very best intentions and nobody wants to make error at other peoples expense. Well done good outcome.

Stephanie White said...

A great ethical dilemma. Something I had not thought of as being an issue. I often have usernames and passwords accessible for students to use during class time. I would hope that none of my junior students would use another students account but its great to see how you dealt with the situation if it did happen. I may have to rethink how I store their login cards as they are currently on individual cards but all in one easy access box.

Rimlesh Kumar said...

Well thought out Justine. I think this is a problem everywhere. I teach in a secondary school and often find learners account being used by other learners without their knowledge. Sorting out this issues takes a lot of our teaching time. Thanks for the insight anyway.

steph said...

Thought provoking Justine! The use of passwords and logins is certainly a complex issue when using digital accounts with young learners especially as they themselves learn to set up their own accounts and can catch their own parents unawares. A cyber safety session with all staff could be a regular requirement, as well as a school digital passport, to keep all staff using devices up to date with their knowledge.