You are here:

Digital media ethics in the writing classroom

, Bowling Green State University, United States

Bowling Green State University . Awarded


With increasing awareness, digital media initiatives on a national level have permeated higher education. The permeation continues into the first year writing classroom. Neal Postman (1996) has argued that no one has taken up the call to implement new technologies with greater enthusiasm than the educator. Many writing educators believe that preparing students for the 21st century requires teaching students multiple technological literacies (Selber, 2004; New London Group, 2000) and bringing digital media into the classroom is one way to accomplish course goals while working with these literacies. In addition, research supports the use of digital media in the writing classroom and argues for capitalizing on student’s native literacies, but little scholarship explores the ethical implications of digital media implementation.

Simultaneously, the ethical turn in Writing Studies has developed a plethora of articles, books, and presentations on participant treatment, research ethics, and even ethical pedagogies, but again, little has attempted to bring together how we use digital media in our pedagogies with an explicitly ethical focus. One aspect of understanding these pedagogies is exploring how teachers and administrators come to view concerns as ethical, something that requires an investigation of worldview. This research seeks to merge these areas through case study methods, drawing on an activity theory framework that uses grounded theory to analyze the data. By interviewing an instructor and writing program administrator at a public university and a private, faith-based college, this work expands on two ethical approaches to digital media from two very important sites in higher education.

The implications of the data provide important additions to our understanding of ethical pedagogies of digital media use. The goal of this study is to discern what the instructors and administrators view as ethical concerns when implementing digital media and to learn how differing approaches impact outlook and outcomes. By drawing on these approaches, a more consistent ethical awareness develops that positions those involved with writing courses to better prepare their students for the ethical needs of the 21st century. The results of the study examine the areas of audience awareness and academic honesty (chapter five) as well as teaching the rhetorical principles of writing, underscoring digital literacy and information awareness, developing students’ ethical literacy, and providing the support structures needed to effectively implement digital media (chapter six). This study concludes by offering a set of implications and heuristics (chapter seven) that can be used in decisions to implement digital media in the writing classroom.


Coley, T.F. Digital media ethics in the writing classroom. Ph.D. thesis, Bowling Green State University. Retrieved June 10, 2023 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 22, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

For copies of dissertations and theses: (800) 521-0600/(734) 761-4700 or