Code of Professional Ethics in Educational Technology

This assignment was to locate an ethical issue in your community that involves educational technology and analyze the issue using the professional code of ethics for educational technology. It demonstrates my knowledge of the code as it is applied in real world situations.

This assignment has inspired me to design something like it for my class. I gained an in depth comprehension of the code, I critically analyzed an ethical issue in my community and provided the best solution possible, and expanded my understanding of deaf culture and history. I enjoyed this assignment as it caught my attention and kept me engaged.

Cultural Appropriation– Word Document

Cultural Appropriation – Google Doc

Cultural Appropriation: The use of Educational Technology in the “appropriation” of American Sign Language


An engaged couple, Tina and Paul, profiting from a YouTube video gone viral, are being scrutinized for cultural appropriation by the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing community*. The YouTube channel was created to teach and inspire learning of American Sign language through song. Community members and educators alike are in a quiet debate of ethics.


It is important to analyze the above situation through the lens of a professional code of ethics as these codes reflect social order (Januszewski, 2008). A professional code of ethics should not be confused with the philosophical branch of ethics. Professional ethics guide the behavior of those in the workforce beyond such requirements as law, government, and religion. The end goal is to prepare and support members for engagement with the imprecise difficulties of professional life (Januszewski, 2008).


Being an interpreter for the deaf, Tina is considered a professional. Tina is also considered an educational technologist as she “created a technological resource for the practice of facilitating learning” (Januszewski, 2008). Being that nothing in the Registered Interpreters for the Deaf Code of Conduct is applicable to this situation, this analysis will use the Educational Technologist’s Code of Professional Ethics.


On July 31st 2014 a sign language interpreter named Tina and her fiancé Paul, known as T&P, took a road trip. She taught him a few signs and they recorded themselves signing the duet “You’re the One That I Want” from the musical Grease. The video went viral attracting national attention and the D/deaf and hard of hearing community began expressing their concerns. This community expressed the feeling of being taken advantage of for the profit of someone insensitive to their culture. To understand this perspective one must view it from a culture with a “long history of oppression and profiteering”(Elise, 2014) Upon receiving the concerns, T&P blocked the offended community members from viewing their social media activity and proceeded to create “Paul and Tina’s Signalong“, a compellation of videos to learn sign, they appeared as “signing guests” at various events and even hosted a crowd funding campaign to make more money for more videos. This caused the community to make claims of Cultural Appropriation, which is,

Taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc. It’s most likely to be harmful when the source community is a minority group that has been oppressed or exploited in other ways or when the object of appropriation is particularly sensitive, e.g. sacred objects”(Scafidi, 2005)

An example of this would be, a business practitioner telling stories using Native American practices, gaining national attention and making a profit without acknowledgement of the culture that holds the roots of the practice.  Said better than I ever could, the following perspectives are from those who have experienced this first hand,

Deaf culture is the only culture whose identity is entirely based on its language. ASL sprang from the breasts of generation after generation of Deaf who found solace in this shared voice from a world that chose to see them as broken things to be hammered and sawn into place. ASL is precious because we grew it ourselves, and it allows us to be our true selves with others who are like us. To take this, and do it badly while profiting from it, is sacrilege”. (zxvasdf, 2014)


“Just to get ASL to be acknowledged as it’s own language has been a HUGE hardship for them[deaf people]. For someone hearing to come in and make a profit from it is just wrong.”(Nicole, 2014)


“It started to become appropriation when they [T&P] ignored valid concerns that were brought up [by the signing community].”(Elise, 2014)


There are two principals from the Educational Technologist Code of Professional Ethics that are applicable here. The first is from Section 1 – Commitment to the Individual, it reads,

The member [educational technologist] shall refrain from any behavior that would be judged to be discriminatory, harassing, insensitive, or offensive and, thus, is in conflict with valuing and promoting each individual’s integrity, rights, and opportunity within a diverse profession and society. (Association for Educational Communications and Technology)

It was clear after the first video went viral that the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing community felt T&P were acting insensitive and offensive toward deaf culture and language. It was at this point that T&P could have turned their escapade around and prevented all this debate; instead they ignored the concerns and began to take advantage of their newfound fame.


The second principle comes from Section 3 – Commitment to the Profession, it reads,

The member [educational technologist] shall accord just and equitable treatment to all members of the profession in terms of professional rights and responsibilities, including being actively committed to providing opportunities for culturally and intellectually diverse points of view in publications and conferences. (Association for Educational Communications and Technology)

T&P had the unique and rare possibility to provide opportunities for culturally diverse points of view in their publications, but instead they decided to block members of the offended culture from their social media sites and continue to profit personally.


This situation could have easily been resolved ethically while benefiting all involved. After T&P received their first concerned comments they could have taken a step back to realize how they offended a minority culture and what they could do to prevent it in the future. They could have opened the door to culturally diverse points of view to add to their YouTube publications and decided not to profit personally from it. They could have posted videos of deaf people telling stories or they themselves could give credit to deaf individuals before each video. This would prevent the allocations of cultural appropriation and allow T&P to continue their educational singalong videos without insensitivity to a minority culture.


This analysis was an engaging experience for me. Picking out the situation myself, I was interested in the issue and how to resolve or prevent it. I had to think critically in order to apply certain principles to the situation and this immensely deepened my understanding of the professional code of ethics.


The development of the professional code of ethics for educational technologists provides insight to the definition of educational technology. Coinciding with the changing definition, the development of the code shows, where the field began, how far it has come, and where it is headed.


*D/d deaf represents big “D” Deaf people who identify themselves as practitioners of this culture and little “d” deaf for those who do not.




Association for Educational Communications and Technology. Code of Professional Ethics. Retrieved from:


Elise. (2014, Sept 6). Appropriate Method For Appropriation. [Web log comment].  retrieved from:


Impact Mind. (2014). Appropriate Method For Appropriation. Retrieved from


Januszewski, A. Molenda, M. (2008). Educational Technology: A Definition with Commentary. NewYork: Taylor & Francis Group.


Nicole. (2014, Sept 9) Appropriate Method For Appropriation. [Web log comment].  retrieved from:


Scafidi S. (2005). Who Owns Culture?: Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.


Sirimarco, T&P. (2014). YouTube Channel. Retrieved from:


zxvasdf. (2014, Sept 9). Appropriate Method For Appropriation. [Web log comment].  retrieved from: