Using Technology to Support Discussions on Sensitive Topics in the Study of Business Ethics

Michelle WL Fong
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 14  •  2015  •  pp. 243-256
There is a dearth of research into teaching strategies and learning approaches for units involving sensitive topics that can provoke an emotional response in students. In a business ethics unit, attempts to strike a balance between conceptual knowledge and theory and skills training can be challenging because the unit can involve personal, sensitive or controversial topics. When engaging in deep and meaningful face-to-face discussion, students may unknowingly divulge personal opinions that they later regret or become identified with by other students over time. Value-laden topics may also lead to clashes between students if face-to-face discussions are not managed properly. This paper considers the use of technology in blended learning to provide an optimal learning environment for student discussion on sensitive topics via role-play and simulation in a first-year business ethics unit. The Audience Response System (ARS), online discussion boards and blogs, and wikis are assessed for their suitability in supporting online role-play and simulation. Among these online tools, asynchronous online discussion boards and blogs are the ideal tools for supporting student discussion on sensitive topics in online role-play and simulation.
Sensitive topics, student participation, student engagement, online role play, simulation, anonymity.
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