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Example Course Content IPE 101

Here is an example of the structure and content of a 10 week course. 

IPE 101: Foundations of Ethical Thinking: School Students
 
COURSE OUTLINE

Purpose
 
The purpose of the course is to introduce students to:

- basic ethical theory
- ethically problematic situations
- deliberative skills
- use of the Institute thinking tools
- respectful, creative debate within the course community
- autonomous posting of ethical issues to the course community
- constructive analysis of the results of course community debate

Methods

Because the course is offered entirely online using powerful, highly networked technology, the method of delivery is more flexible than traditional classroom approaches. It is also different from typical Learning Management System methodologies.
 
There is a clear structure and standard content to deliver each week, but within that framework there is considerable scope for flexibility and adaptation. For example, we:

- encourage students to interact online
- encourage students to post and debate their own issues
- encourage students to set up their own special interest groups
- encourage students to share and comment on materials using our Digital Boards
- encourage teachers to participate as fully as possible, as fellow explorers rather than experts
- post topical issues as they arise - for example we challenge students to engage in ethical debate about social controversies that appear in the news-media

Tutors frequent the site regularly and assign a set period per week when they are guaranteed to be online for student queries.
 
Where necessary junior students are able to do different surveys and cases from the senior students, and are challenged less.
 
Structure
 
Week One: What is Ethics?
 
Students complete two stimulating surveys which prompt definitions of ethics.
 
Students are encouraged to debate with others within the survey results.
 
Students are encouraged to find another student who takes a different view from them, and to enter into debate with that student.
 
Students are required to offer an initial definition of ethics, in their own words.
 
Students are encouraged to find friends, to create interest groups and generally to explore the website.
 
Week Two: Theories of Ethics
 
Students are introduced to basic readings on:

- Consequentialism
- Deontology
- Virtues
- Rights

Students are encouraged to debate these theories however they wish on the site, but especially via a dynamic survey that helps them understand each theory and its limitations, and also what they feel about each theory.
 
Week Three: Dilemmas
 
Three challenging ethical dilemmas are posted as surveys. Students must respond to each  survey and explain how they would resolve the dilemma and why.
 
Each student is then challenged - again via a survey - to explain for each dilemma, which ethical theory he or she most applied.
 
Week Four: Role Play
 
Students are put into role play groups. Each member of group has to adopt the values of a particular character in a problematic situation - each group is assigned a character.
 
As that character, each student has to respond to questions about that situation, and ultimately resolve it as that character.
 
Students are encouraged to analyse the results and to retrieve certain pieces of information from the data. These analyses are then posted on a special role play Board.
 
There is a final survey for Week Four which asks students how comfortable they felt in role, and what the differences between their values and the role play values were.
 
Week Five: The Ethical Grid and the Think Screen
 
Students are introduced to the concepts behind the Ethical Grid (Seedhouse, 1988 plus later adaptations).
 
By means of a survey students are asked to solve a problematic ethical situation using the Ethical Grid.
 
Students are challenged to respond to a full Think Screen Case.
 
Week Six: The Think Screen
 
Students are challenged to respond to three Think Screen cases.
 
Via a survey process, students are encouraged to find unique data from the results and present these on a Digital Board.
 
Rich and deep discussion between participants is encouraged.
 
Week Seven: The Dashboard Challenge
 
Students respond to two more Think Screen Cases.
 
Students are taken through a step by step process which helps them examine and interpret the results - this process is called The Dashboard Challenge.
 
Week Eight: Focus on Justice
 
This week takes the concept of justice using various examples, including resource allocation in health care.
 
By means of fascinating surveys students are challenged to interpret and apply their understanding of justice to solve social problems.
 
Students are asked to offer a definition of justice in their own words.
 
Week Nine: Applied Ethics
 
Students respond to Think Screen Cases in:

- Ethics of Science and Technology
- Business Ethics
- Environmental Ethics
- The Ethics of Journalism

A Digital Board is provided for them to review the results.
 
Week Ten: Summing Up and Assessment
 
The two surveys from Week One are reposted and revisited. Students are encouraged to identify changes in knowledge, beliefs and values.
 
Students write and submit a 1,000 word essay.
 
Results are made available to each student (and to teachers where appropriate).
 
END

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