Digital Ethics in a Post-Truth Society

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session

Brief Abstract

This panel will explore innovative learner-centered approaches to teaching digital ethics in a post-truth society. Panelists will address ethical considerations inherent in digital learning environments, tools, and applications. We’ll discuss implications for learning analytics, share strategies and assignments, and invite audience input using polls, survey questions, and Q & A.


Associate Professor in the arts, digital media, learning and emerging technologies at SUNY Empire State College, with core teaching and thesis advisement responsibilities in the Master of Arts in Learning and Emerging Technologies. Formerly the director of curriculum and instructional design for the Center for Distance Learning, and a dancer/choreographer specializing in Asia/Pacific traditions. Combines expertise in performing, creative and digital arts and technologies with research in learning design, emerging media and technologies, and immersive environments. Scholarly and creative work include translating the work of French Poet Philippe Beck and translating French and Ancient Greek philosophy. Diversified experience in university administration in online, open and distance learning as well as teaching, mentoring and research. Prior initiatives include large scale national and international collaborations in curricular, technology, arts and science initiatives. Contributed to securing more than $2.5 million in funding for major initiatives in digital learning and emerging technologies. Invited speaker in the fields of online and distance learning, digital arts, emerging media/technologies, and technical communications. Serves as an external reviewer of open learning, distance and online programs, and as a research consultant. Professional expertise includes supervision of large funded projects, extensive program and curriculum development, and innovation in pedagogical techniques. Supervised a large curriculum design group, instructional technology staff, and adjunct faculty. Multidisciplinary and multilingual, with extensive international experience. Serves as external evaluator and advisor for the Tertiary Accord of New Zealand eCampus. Also on the Steering Committee of the Open SUNY Innovative Instruction Research Council, and the Editorial Board of the Online Learning Journal. Serves on the board of directors of the Greenfield Review Literary Center/Ndakinna Education Center, and North Country Wild Care, an organization devoted to wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.
Professor in the Division of Arts and Humanities, Department of Arts and Media at SUNY Empire State College. Educator, researcher, and author promoting metaliteracy. Additional research in open and online learning, teaching with technology, faculty-librarian collaboration, and assessment. Conference and keynote presentations, book chapters, and several publications in peer-reviewed journals, including: Open Praxis, Communications in Information Literacy, College & Research Libraries, First Monday, Computers & Education, The Journal of General Education, College Teaching, Rhizomes, The Journal of Information Science, and The Journal of Education for Library and Information Science. Editor of the book Metaliteracy in Practice (2016) with Trudi Jacobson for ALA/Neal-Schuman, and co-author of the first book about metaliteracy, a model that we originated, entitled Metaliteracy: Reinventing Information Literacy to Empower Learners (2014). Co-editor of our four earlier books: Information Literacy Collaborations That Work (2007), Using Technology To Teach Information Literacy (2008), Collaborative Information Literacy Assessments: Strategies for Evaluating Teaching and Learning (2010), and Teaching Information Literacy Online (2011).

Additional Authors

Director of IELIT ▪ National Academic Qualification as Associate Professor in Pedagogy ▪ Educational researcher on topics related to continuing education & adult education, learning styles, literacy competencies, critical & complex pedagogies, media communication, EU strategies and methodologies, TIC, lifelong learning in a contemporary tech environment. ▪ Experienced trainer and coordinator of educational activities. ▪ Authored numerous scientific papers in EspressivAmente (ESCI-Thomson Reuters) and in collaboration with Utah Valley University, ANAYA, UNED, Pearson, IGI-USA, Editorial Sintesis, Marcial Pons, Universitas, Editorial Universitaria Guadalajara University, Giuffrè Editore, Armando Editore, FrancoAngeli, Aracne Roma, Anicia. ▪ European Journalist 21-01-10490 8 IPC-EU. ▪ Negotiated and promoted partnerships between transnationals Universities and academics networks of excellence in Europe, Latin American and Caribbean. ▪ President of "School Rovigliano Committee - AliceHallgraten Franchetti", President of the international publisher CIELIT promoting team solutions and cooperation in education. ▪ Fluent in Italian (mother tongue), Spanish (C1), well versed in English (B2) and adequate understanding of French (A2). Productivity 2017 (in Italian, English, and Spanish): Number of papers - 61, Number of Books - 7, Number of Book chapters - 18.

Extended Abstract

This panel will explore innovative learner-centered approaches to teaching digital ethics in a post-truth society. Today’s digital and social media environments often focus on the convenience of tools and resources to connect individuals and communities without defining a clear and collective sense of digital ethics. We have also seen the proliferation of false and misleading information that has been easily created and shared through circuitous social media. The democratization of technologies to create and facilitate these spaces has been empowering for millions of users but has also disrupted traditional editorial filters to keep dubious information in check and to prevent bad actors from manipulating the openness of the systems. In addition, proprietary interests have stolen personal data from unsuspecting users who only wanted to connect with family and friends while maintaining a social media presence. For instance, Cambridge Analytica used personal information from over 87 million Facebook users without their permission. This breach of trust reflected poorly on Facebook for allowing such a massive security violation to occur without preemptive safeguards in place or accountability. It also raises concerns among many social media participants about the security of their information in these proprietary spaces.

Interestingly, Wikipedia has emerged as a mature and reliable source of information, created and edited by a dedicated community of users. Wikipedia was often perceived as an unreliable resource, but the community took responsibility for the space to fully realize the potential of this innovative format. How do we effectively leverage the collaborative dimension of social technologies, such as wikis and other participatory environments, while developing innovative practices and policies that incorporate community based checks and balances for trusted information?

The challenges of the post-truth society require a strong commitment to digital ethics and digital learning theories and strategies to promote digital citizenship. As part of this exploration, panelists will address the ethical considerations inherent in digital learning environments, while introducing effective digital learning tools, and applications. The discussion will move beyond well-known social media resources to also consider openly available and openly licensed tools to support digital ethics education and lifelong learning. During this interactive presentation, we’ll discuss implications for learning analytics, share strategies and assignments, and invite audience input using polls, survey questions, and Q & A. The panel will introduce a small set of case studies for participants to consider as part of the poll/survey response.

We’ll also address international issues in digital learning and ethics. In today’s social and learning contexts there are absences, both physical and virtual, that require filling in the gaps heightened by radical changes in peer relations. Deepening concepts such as digital ethics, mediated communication for technologies, and effective practices in e-learning is essential. In Italy, as in most of the EU, educators create alliances for distance education and recognize the necessity to promote digital learning standards and related knowledge areas.

Examples highlighted will include the online course Digital Storytelling, taught by two of the panelists, which encourages learners to identify and use emerging technologies for the production of empowering digital narratives. Another graduate level course, Issues and Ethics in the Digital Age, has used an ethical framework put forward by California's Markkula Center to encourage deeper thinking about one's personal decision-making and responsibilities towards others when using or interacting with various digital technologies. The M. A. in Learning and Emerging Technologies Advanced Design Seminar requires students to address ethical considerations specific to their design of learning environments and activities. Beyond credit bearing online courses, the on-demand Coursera MOOC entitled Metaliteracy: Empowering Yourself in a Connected World features several modules on becoming a digital citizen, including the ethical use of information. This MOOC applies the metaliteracy goals and learning objectives and prepares metaliterate learners to be active participants in social media as metacognitive consumers and producers of information in multiple forms. 

We’ll explore emergent pedagogical frameworks for literacy and learning, including metaliteracy, an empowering framework that promotes metacognitive thinking and self-regulation in participatory environments often mediated by social technologies. The panel will introduce the revised metaliteracy goals and learning objectives that have been redefined to address digital learning in a post-truth society:

Digital ethics, issues and related considerations are rising to the forefront in a post-truth society. Discussion questions introduced by the panel include:

1.     What ethical concerns arise with the use of digital learning environments and tools?

2.     What is the responsibility of the educator in choosing digital and social tools for learning? What are the learner’s ethical responsibilities? What are the institution’s responsibilities?

3.     What are the ethical implications of learning analytics?

4.     What frameworks might be used to educate teachers and learners about ethical practices in learning environments?

5.     What strategies are effective in addressing the ethical considerations arising with the adoption of digital and social media tools for learning?


Coursera MOOC Metaliteracy: Empowering Yourself in a Connected World

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Cadwalladr, Carole, andEmma Graham-Harrison. 2018. Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach. The Guardian.

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Kang, Cecilia and Sheera Frenkel. 2018. “Facebook Says Cambridge Analytica Harvested Data of Up to 87 Million Users” New York Times.

Mackey, Thomas P. and Trudi E. Jacobson. 2011. Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy. College & Research Libraries, (January): 62-78.

Mackey, Thomas P. and Trudi E. Jacobson. 2014. Metaliteracy: Reinventing Information Literacy to Empower Learners. Chicago: ALA/Neal-Schuman Publishing.