These are the assignments/documentation provided to a general education humanities course at the Cegep level. The course was "Media Ethics," and I had pre-arranged a collaborative exchange with Gabe at Champlain.
Newsactivist.com is an online platform that allows students to share their opinions with the general public and to dialogue with students from other Cegeps, colleges, and universities, throughout North America and the wider world. It is a way of expanding peer-to-peer learning beyond the boundaries of the physical classroom, and of encouraging interdisciplinary discussions, all while protecting students’ anonymity.
As an educational network, Newsactivist.com is unique in that students are able to speak their minds freely without fear of reprisal from “trolls.” Anyone can read a Newsactivist.com post (so long as the user chooses to make that post public), but only other registered students can comment. Moreover, unlike other online forums, Newsactivist.com does not collect or share your data. This means that no one is collecting or analyzing your data in order to construct a user profile that can be sold for advertising purposes.
In this course, students will be required to make 2 original posts on Newsactivist.com and comment on the posts of other students twice. However, they are welcome to respond to comments left on their work, read what their peers have been writing, or surf around and leave extra comments too. The hope is that students will bring what they have learned online back into the in-class discussions and debates over the course of the semester.
DUE: January 31
Go to http://www.newsactivist.com and click “Register”
- Set up an account and choose “Media Ethics” at Marianopolis College as your course affiliation
- Note: make sure you choose the right section number!
- Be sure (a) to use a pseudonym in order to protect your anonymity and (b) to MIO me that information once you have completed the form
- Wait for me to authorize you
- You will be sent an email notifying you once this has been done (see step 4)
- I usually authorize within 24 hours, excluding weekends – if you have not been verified after 24 hours please MIO me and let me know
- Verify your account by email – i.e. follow the link that has been sent to the email address you provided to newsactivist.com
- If you have any problems along the way, email firstname.lastname@example.org
ORIGINAL POST 1: Explaining a Moral Dilemma in Your Field
DUE: February 9
Choose a moral dilemma faced by professionals working in your field of study and then discuss how best that dilemma might be resolved. This analysis should be roughly 500 words in length. It should be written and saved in Microsoft Office or Libre Office, and then uploaded to Newsactivist.com by copying and pasting the document over when you are done (this is to prevent the loss of work should there be an issue with your internet connection or the Newsactivist.com website itself).
- Your post should have a short, catchy, and descriptive title that tells potential readers what you will be talking about.
- Posts should describe the moral dilemma, discuss whether deontological or teleological ethics are being applied and how, and propose a solution.
- Students should use the Merrill and Deigh readings in their course pack to help them understand the moral dilemma and correctly to apply either a deontological or teleological framework.
- Examples of the types of moral dilemmas that you might wish to consider include but are not limited to: abortion, euthanasia, the legalization of marijuana, immigration, The Onion Router (TOR), and more.
To upload your post, choose "create content", and then "article." When it asks you what kind of article you want to create, choose "editorial."
- PLEASE NOTE: When uploading the article, do not click "friends only" unless you want the post to be invisible to the internet! Lower down the page, there will be a bar called "group content visibility". Click that and set it to "public".
- If you would like the post to remain invisible to everyone other than me, then choose "friends only" and add the user sarahwaurechen
You must MIO me a link to your post to confirm that you have finished the assignment.
COMMENT 1: Bringing the Moral Dilemma To Light
DUE: March 18
Choose a post from the Newsactivist course at Champlain College that was posted after February 1 that is of interest to you and in which you can identify a moral dilemma. If you cannot find a post from that class, then search the Newsactivist.com website for other posts that are of interest.
Once you have selected a post, either (a) leave a comment explaining the different ways that one might approach the issue and which path you believe is ultimately the correct one or (b) identify what type of philosophical approach the student seems to intuitively be using and take the opportunity to teach that student a little more about rationalism, utilitarianism, or one of the other moral system we have encountered.
Below are a few things to remember:
- One should always begin by saying something positive about the post (eg: “I wasn’t aware of this issue before reading your post and found it very interesting…”)
- The second part of your comment should offer critical feedback explaining that you have identified an important ethical issue that you believe requires further thought or teaching the student about the different ways one might construct a moral system
- Comments should be roughly 200 words
When you are done, MIO me a link to your comment
PLEASE NOTE: All comments are automatically made public. Thus, if you are uncomfortable sharing your thoughts, you must MIO me a link to the post that you chose and include your comment as part of the MIO.
ORIGINAL POST 2: Where Media Ethics and Your Program of Study Intersect
DUE: April 1
Write 750-1000 words explaining how media ethics is related to your particular program of study. In order to complete this task, you should respond to one of the following questions:
- Are the representations of [insert program-specific issue of your choosing here] in the media ethical?
- Does [insert program-specific sector here] influence the media in ethically troubling ways?
- What is the most important ethical issue raised by the social media tag/hashtag [insert tag/hashtag that pertains to something related to your program of study here] and why?
- A question of your choosing that relates media ethics and your program of study and which has more than one possible answer (original questions must be approved by your teacher).
To answer the question, begin by summarizing a media source of your choosing that you believe is representative of the moral dilemma in question.
- How does this look in practice? If you are in the Science program and interested in biology, then you might want to ask: does the news media represent the euthanasia debates in an ethical way; or, is the representation of forensic technology as hyper-advanced and foolproof in modern crime dramas ethical? If this is the case, you should choose a news article contributing to the euthanasia debate or an episode of a crime drama respectively.
- If you are in the Social Science program and interested in politics, you might want to ask: does the government have too much influence over the media in Canada; or, what is the most important ethical issue raised by #harperhistory/#obamacare/#bringbackourgirls and why? If this is the case you would summarize a news article about cuts to CBC funding, or explain what type of tweets you’re talking about.
- You must provide a link to the news article, Twitter feed, etc… in question as part of your post. If you are talking about a movie or TV show, a link should be provided to an IMDB or Wikipedia entry that will provide your reader with more information about the production in question.
Follow the steps outlined in Original Post 1 for uploading.
COMMENT 2: Bringing the Moral Dilemma To Light
DUE: May 4
Comments are to be made on either the Newsactivist Class at Champlain College, St. Lambert or the Ethics Class at Champlain St. Lambert (both taught by Gabe Flacks).
If you choose to comment on the Newsactivist Class, write roughly 200 words on any post written since April explaining a moral framework that might help shed light on the how society could approach the issue in question in such a way as to build a better world.
If you choose to comment on the Ethics class, choose a post that includes a moral dilemma that appeals to you. Your comment should be roughly 200 words and should either substantially support or significantly challenge what the student has to say.
Remember, it is important that you begin with positive feedback. After this, you should offer some substantial commentary that will help the student learn more about an issue or a moral philosophy.