The main goal for this site is to present material in such a way that it promotes awareness of ethics. The key is to have users begin to recognize and identify the issues as they relate to the topics discussed in each module. We hope to present the content of these modules in such a fashion that we bridge the gap between theory and practice.
Each module has been designed to offer the user an open-ended learning environment. This is to say that there is no set path that all users must follow, while there will be a strongly suggested path, the module will not force each user into an area. Users are free to decide how to use the materials presented to suit their individual needs and interests. Of course, our wish is that the user will review all sections of the module in depth along our suggested path.
The reasoning for this open-ended approach is two-fold. First, because there will be several types of users, from an experienced researcher to novice lab assistants, many users will not need to go through all sections of each module. Some users may only choose to augment the information that they have and use in practice, others may have different learning styles and may need to look through sections at different times, still others may choose to go back and forth through the material to get the best experience. Second, we hope that each user feels free to review the materials time and again as need or desire dictates. The modules have many materials that could prove useful to all at different times. This content includes, but is not limited to; detailed reference sections, links to university and federal policy statements, questions for future thought, and alternate case(s).
The modules will begin, with a short introduction which will have several features. There will be a text introduction of the topic, it will lay out the objectives for the module, explain to users what to expect from the module, and lay out a series of optional challenge questions. The challenge questions will serve as a sort of pre / post test and will appear again at the end of the module. There will also be a brief video introduction to the topic from the main author or "host" for the module.
We have decided on a case-based approach to this website. Each module has a central case or cases made of a narrative of events. The events of the case are a realistic fabrication. Each user should (think open-ended) read through the "clean" central case at least once. By using the term "clean" we mean that the case will appear without any distraction. Many online experiences can distract readers any number of ways; links, animation, video, over done graphics, etc. The online environment sometimes has many bells and whistles simply because it can. We want the user to digest the information and truly think about the issues that should be raising mental flags.
Following the "clean" case, users should go to the Q&A session of the site. Here we present 2 types of questions. There are questions related to the case and those for further discussion. Users have the option to view our answers to the questions related to the case both in this section and inline while reading the annotated case. Questions for further discussion will not be answered in these modules. Obviously, we hope that users will read all of the questions and reflect on them as they move into one of the next two major sections, the annotated case or the fundamental core text.
The annotated case is the exact same text as the "clean" case, but it has three main types of annotations. The first, and simplest, annotations are inline links that define an item or supply a reference for it. These links are normal hyperlinks that generate a pop-up window. The second type of annotations are for the questions posed for the case. They appear at the end of a paragraph where the question may logically be asked. The link will be represented by a icon. They also force a pop-up window and give both the question and the answer. The third and most important type of annotation is the Ethics Wizard.
Our Ethics Wizard is a character that serves as the voice of the many experts working on each module. The character will point out some of the ethical issues and may provide further insight, opinions, commentary, ideas on how to handle situations, links to resources, etc. Expect to find the wizard anywhere that the experts decide to place a notation that falls outside of the other 2 types of annotations. The Ethics Wizard may also appear in the foundation text.
The foundation text includes all of the relevant background text material for the topic of the module. This material includes, but is not limited to, definitions, examples, policy statements, video of expert opinion and experience. Essentially, it could be considered as the traditional "text-book" chapter for the module. It contains all of the pieces of information that the module creators have decided is necessary to gain a through understanding of the topic. The use of "side-bar" material and the Ethics Wizard serves to break up long passages of text. Users have the option to jump around the text via a linked table of contents. Please understand that we do not expect most users to read the foundation text from start to finish, it should be read as necessary to define or explain a topic further. However, those that do read the material in its entirety will get a first rate reading on the topic. All will, of course, have the option to save and/or print the material.
Our resources section provides an extensive list of policy statements and readings related to the module. In addition, the content experts have choosen to highlight what they feel are essential readings by providing a brief synopsis or abstract. Much of the multimedia elements used in the module will also be re-displayed here for ease of use. All related readings and materials will appear in an organized, easy to navigate fashion.
Finally, the conclusion offers a synopsis of the module and displays the learning objectives again. The challenge questions will also appear as a post-test and will allow users to gauge pre/post-test results.