I have recently been thinking about something that has only come up since more people have started reading my blog. At first I wrote it mainly for my own reflections, but obviously when I put it online and open to the public I was inviting others to read it too. And some of those who read it are former and future students (not sure about current ones…no one has told me!).
Now, this can bring up a potential ethical issue: when one is blogging about teaching and learning, one will often blog about experiences in one’s own classes. That’s natural and probably expected. But it can also mean that one risks saying things about that experience that could potentially bother some current, former or future students. I don’t just mean that they may not like the sorts of views one has on teaching and learning–that can easily happen anyway, and at least this way potential students may get a sense of those views before registering for a course! Rather, it could be that one may say things that could be viewed as giving a negative opinion of current or former students, even if one doesn’t mean to do so. Obviously a blogger shouldn’t reveal any particular information about students, but what if someone says something negative about a particular class, or some students in a class, how there isn’t a lot of participation going on, or some students aren’t getting things as one would hope they would, etc., and what if some students took offense at that? Maybe a course is a very small one and other students or faculty could determine approximately who one is talking about in a blog post, even if one doesn’t mention any identifying information.
I have tried not to do anything like this, but when things one says are out in public, it may be that they could be taken in ways other than we mean, or we may end up going beyond the line without realizing it.
I wonder if some of us bloggers on teaching and learning should discuss something like a “code of ethics when blogging about classroom experience.” I know I would welcome such a discussion, not so I can police others, but so I can police myself. If one already exists, can someone please let me know?