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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

The Ethics of Innovation: A Framework for Action and Reflection

Brad Zdenek (Penn State University & Center for Online Innovation in Learning, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 11:45am
Leadership, Values and Society
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Theory/Conceptual Framework
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Southern Hemisphere I
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 1
Virtual Session

This presentation will offer a framework for critical reflection of ethically charged scenarios useful for guiding decision making related to educational innovations.

Extended Abstract

Innovations in learning have accelerated alongside the advancement of and access to online and web based technologies. Educational organizations are experiencing increased pressures to respond to or integrate these innovations, sometimes in the name of better learning outcomes and other times in pursuit of less learning-centric, but business critical , objectives. The onus falls on the current generation of educational leaders to survey the field of educational technologies, develop strategies for assessing these innovations, and interpret the potential for alignment between what the innovations may offer and the goals of the institution. All of this must then be balanced with the implications of what are, by nature, disruptions to the status quo.

Often the decisions related to development and adoption of innovations have been made through a business minded analysis of costs and benefits, a pedagogical assessment of impacts on learning, or some combination of the two. What has often been missing is an explicit discussion of the ethics of innovation, a perspective, offered in this presentation, that is necessary due to the fundamentally disruptive nature of newly adopted and applied innovations. The absence of this discussion on the ethics of innovation can be partially attributed to the lack of a clear framework for guiding these discussions.

This presentation will offer one framework for critical reflection of ethically charged scenarios useful for developing the sensitivity of educational leaders to the presence of such scenarios and the analysis of their implications. The framework, which utilizes multiple ethical paradigms as lenses through which educational leaders can look at potential innovations, was developed out of a series of workshops and trainings conducted by the author over the past 7 years, combining insights from numerous faculty, staff, students, and administrators across the k-20 spectrum. Attendees will leave the session with ready to use tools and potentially a new perspective on innovations.

Lead Presenter

Brad Zdenek is Innovation Strategist for the Center for Online Innovation in Learning at Penn State University, responsible for initiating, directing, conducting, analyzing and reporting on the Center's projects, research, and evaluation activities. He earned his B.A. in Secondary Education at Flagler College in Florida and taught middle school Social Studies in North Carolina prior to joining the Penn State family. While at Penn State, Brad worked with the Regional Educational Laboratory program leading a team in developing and delivering professional development opportunities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region focused on bridging scientifically valid research, policy, and practice. Most recently he worked with the DIY STEM initiative in the College of Education directing instructional design and assessment development and leading the development and coding of a game theory based digital badging infrastructure to support learner engagement and facilitate learner persistence in the STEM fields.
Brad is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Leadership at Penn State with a projected completion in the fall of 2015. His research interests include professional development and adult learning, educational ethics, and the integration and diffusion of educational technology.