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New Bottles, Old Wine? - A Debate on the Ethics of Educational Interventions in Popular Digital Technologies

7 September 2010
ALT-C - Nottingham

Cloudscape created by:

Abi Redmond
16 August 2010

This debate is designed for anyone interested in a discussion about whether educational interventions in popular technologies like Twitter, Facebook, Second Life, and World of Warcraft are ethically problematic, specifically whether these technologies change the nature of fundamental concepts like 'harm', 'consent', 'confidentiality', and 'identity'.


Educators have started using popular digital technologies, including mobile phones and media players; social networking sites like Facebook; blogging sites such as Twitter, immersive virtual environments, mainly Second Life; and online gaming platforms such as World of Warcraft and connected mainstream console based games.

Ideas to be explored

This is a significant development, a distinct departure from the use of technologies that are purely educational or institutional such as e-portfolios or VLEs, where educators and their institutions control the technology and impose the rules. Where popular digital technologies are being used beyond the walled garden of the institution, other rules have already begun to emerge.

There are no easy 'for' and 'against' formulations; different technologies are used in different ways with different students and in different contexts. The speakers come from social media, gaming, immersive virtual worlds, mobiles and transnational perspectives.

Speakers include:

Professor John Traxler - University of Wolverhampton
Frances Bell - University of Salford
Andy Black - Becta
Mark Childs - University of Coventry
Steve Wheeler - University of Plymouth

Intended Outcomes for Participants

This debate draws on a range of strongly held opinions emerging from within a newly formed HEA SIG exploring the ethics of educational interventions, both teaching, evaluation and research, in popular digital technologies. We hope delegates will join the SIG and continue to be involved as discussions and understandings evolve. We hope to identify important and over-arching issues and approaches for educators, in order to support and protect their students, and to enhance their institutional procedures and inform the development of relevant professional frameworks.

Please note, in order to attend this session, you must register to attend the ALT Conference. Please do not book through the Learning Lab website.

To book, please visit the ALT C Website at

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