Principles underpinning Project MoodleNet: 4. ‘Ethical’

Ethical (CC BY-ND Bryan Mathers)

The principles underpinning Project MoodleNet are:

  1. Open
  2. Safe
  3. Private
  4. Ethical
  5. Transparent
  6. Connecte​d

But what do these mean in practice? In this fourth of a series of posts, we explore what ‘ethical’ means as regards this project.

Ethics is the study of right and wrong conduct. It follows, then, that an individual or organisation being ‘ethical’ is acting in the right way. We might say that we use an ethical bank, or food store, or that we’re being ethical by not eating animals.

Some ethics are contested, while others are more universal. Killing other human beings seems to be something most cultures frown upon, while a code of behaviour stemming from religious beliefs might vary significantly from place to place and group to group.

With Project MoodleNet, by ‘ethical’ we mean that we respect users and put their interests first. This aligns with Moodle’s mission to empower educators to improve our world. It’s a principle that underpins everything we do, from open-sourcing our code, to working in the most transparent way possible.

Sometimes it is easier to see what is meant by a term or position by considering its opposite. What would it mean to be unethical with this kind of project? How would users respond in that scenario? Perhaps users would be:

  • unsure about how their data was being used
  • unclear about the terms and conditions by which they are bound
  • untrusting of the organisation behind the project

Moodle is a trusted partner for organisations and individuals worldwide. This partnership is sometimes formal, for example through our partner network or much less formal in that we are a brand that educators trust with their student data.

As outlined in the post about privacy, with Project MoodleNet we will seek to hold and process on the data required to provide the service that users have requested. We will make it clear what they are signing up for and why, and we will not ‘pivot’ towards a business model opposed to Moodle’s mission.

Being ethical is closely tied to reputation, and Moodle has an excellent one as the world’s most popular learning platform. We seek to build on that base with Project MoodleNet, and look forward to helping empowering educators long into the future.