Module 8:Technologies and Ethical Issues

Academic Dishonesty, Copyright, and Plagiarism:

Whilst technology integration has its advantages, there are certainly ethical issues related to copyright, plagiarism and misuse of information. Roblyer and Doering (2014, p. 29) identify ease of access to online information as a cause for academic dishonesty, enhanced by the ubiquitous nature of mobile technologies. The internet, although a rich resource of information, enables unethical practices when full-text documents and piracy software are readily available to students at the click of a button. In 2013, producers of the Dallas Buyers Club threatened legal action over the piracy of its film through Australian internet company iiNet (Birtles, 2014). This is where Gabriel (2010) argues that the boundary is blurred when it comes to ethical use.  A generation of students are simultaneously using technology to illegally obtain files whilst publishing academic work. Game of Thrones anyone? Digital file sharing, certainly enables plagiarism.

Students need to develop information literacy skills to know how to analyse, synthesize and communicate information appropriately. We need to explicitly teach and model ethical behaviour across all disciplines and right through secondary schooling when it comes to academic conduct, plagiarism, and technology. Learning how to develop a personal academic voice is crucial to my teaching areas of secondary HSIE and English. When used appropriately, there is a wealth of valuable research available online.

Bretag (2013) raises an interesting argument regarding plagiarism as simply a product of academic culture. She claims that plagiarism is due to an educational system that values tangible rewards (diplomas, grades etc) above knowledge creation and the value of learning. Perhaps if curriculums are designed to value a holistic approach to inquiry-based learning, and assessment criteria are designed to include peer review, peer feedback and ownership of learning through technology integration, students will be motivated and engaged to produce their own intellectual property.

It might also help to create an open discussion regarding copyright law. Before I began my studies, I enrolled in a refresher APA referencing course here at Charles Sturt University and completed the academic integrity module which has been explicit in developing my sense of what is expected and necessary to the success of my university assignments. Here is a link to the university’s copyright guidelines for students that deals with moral rights, the work of others and contains specific information regarding intellectual property that might be useful for developing such an academic culture in our future secondary classrooms. Bretag argues that we need to move beyond deterrence, detection, and punishment (Bretag, 2013) by equipping students with the skills they need to confidently produce their own work. Failing the above, technology can also be used by students to check their work for accidental plagiarism through software such as Turnitin.


Birtles, B. (2014, October 24). iiNet vows to fight threatened legal action over customers’ illegal downloads. Retrieved from ABC News:

Bretag, T. (2013). Challenges in addressing plagiarism in education. PLOS Medicine, 10(12), 1-4.

Fish, S. (2010, August 9). Plagiarism is not a big moral deal. Retrieved from NY Times:

Gabriel, T. (2010, August 1). Plagiarism lines blur for students in the digital age. Retrieved from NY Times :

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Intergrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th ed.). Essex, UK: Pearson Education Limited.

Williamson, J. (2010, April 2). Does Your Instructor Know It’s You? Issues in Verifying Online Student Identities. Retrieved from Distance Education:–Issues-in-Verifying-Online-Student-Identities–234.html



6 thoughts on “Module 8:Technologies and Ethical Issues

  1. Hi Angela.
    A great read. I never would have thought of Digital file sharing, I know it is copy right but I never thought of it now. Within my high school we never referenced anything, I did not even know what it was till it started Uni. maybe we should be teaching some form a referencing throughout schooling. In primary school they could copy the URL where they got it from and then when they start high school get them to start learning how to reference properly so they will be ready for Uni and also understand that if you copy someone work you need to acknowledge it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jaimi,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it. I certainly hope to introduce the concept of referencing to my senior English students, but more importantly the significance of plagiarism and intellectual property. I think referencing is definitely an academic tertiary-level skill though, dependent on different contexts. For example, the university I completed my undergrad degree at used the Harvard method of referencing, then at CSU I have had to learn the conventions of APA referencing and in my English Literature subjects my lecturer prefers MLA style of referencing. It can definitely get confusing but they preach the same principle, and that is recognising the work of others. I agree with you that this principle can be taught early on so that students understand the need for referencing in their academic works when they get to university level. As for digital file sharing, I think technology makes it tricky when it can be used unethically just as easy as it can be used for transformation of learning.
      Thanks again Jaimi!



      • Hi Angela.
        I am glad to hear that you are going to do that with your English students. I am going to start it with my primary students when I start teaching in the next few years. It is so important for them to learn it. I totally agree, there are way too many referencing systems out there, but if we teach at least one that is one step closer than we were before.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ltub says:

    Hi Angela

    Very good point about file sharing, illegal downloads, and Game of Thrones! (I love that show, legally though!). I think its important to also teach students about collusion as well as copy right. Many students share ideas, answers and work at high school as well as Uni and high school students wouldn’t necessarily understand it as collusion. At my last prac school, all senior students were required to complete a bibliography with there assignments, but an understanding of referencing and WHY we reference is very important.
    Thanks for the great read!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Andrew Finlayson says:

    Hi Angela, Great points and examples about internet use and piracy. It is interesting in this day and age that inspite of the stringent copyright laws and the blatent misappropriation of entertainment media (especially) that governments or corporations won’t take steps to protect the creators. I remember seeing in a documentary about piracy, that there are extremists that believe in freeware for all, but a great majority of piracy exists because there is a demand for a service to be filled that patrons would otherwise be happy to pay for. I believe the quote from a big studio producer was ‘People want what they want, when they want it.’ If that can happen, then they will pay for the service. Now that services like Stan, Netflix and Spotify have serviced those needs it seems that the content creators have won a few battles for the mean time.


  4. Hi Angela,

    An insightful read. As you mentioned I think it is important for students to begin referencing in high school when writing essays. To acknowledge authors and therefore to understand where the ideas have come from and how to form their own ideas. It would be as simple as listing the publisher and the year. This will change the way students engage with learning. I think it will allow students to think more critically and creatively.

    Cheers Emily.


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