Developing Ethical Approaches to Learning Technology

"This shift continues to put learning technologists here in the UK and elsewhere under pressure and brought their role in supporting, training and guiding staff and students centre stage." Dr Maren Deepwell, Chief Executive Officer, Association for learning technology

We supported the Future of Education Technology campaign that launched recently within the Guardian and online.

The Future of Education Technology looked at COVID’s disruption to education and innovations in technology that are improving student outcomes, teacher wellbeing and featured insightful content from Dr Maren Deepwell, CEO at ALT and Gavin Dykes Director of the Education World Forum and more.


2020 has changed the Learning Technology landscape across sectors here in the UK and across the globe. Never before have learners of all ages engaged with learning, teaching and assessment using digital technologies at this scale. Never before has the role of Learning Technologists been as important - or as challenging. Scaling up use of technology at this rapid pace prompted knowledge sharing and community support as individuals and institutions shared resources and expertise freely as thousands of professionals took part in CPD and training activities online. 

Recent findings from ALT’s Annual Survey 2020 paint a picture of Learning Technologists at the helm of moving over 90% of provision to online and blended formats. The survey further indicates that 65% of Learning Technologists are working on revising institutional policies. 

This shift continues to put Learning Technologists here in the UK and elsewhere under pressure and brought their role in supporting, training and guiding staff and students centre stage. In this context, finding ethical approaches to using digital technologies at scale is at the heart of long term strategies for online and blended learning. Whilst there are wider concerns about the impact of the pandemic on access to and participation in education, ALT’s Annual Survey 2020 shows that learner engagement continues to be the number one driver for use of Learning Technology - a trend that has remained constant for the past five years. 

Learning Technology has played a very important and positive role in enabling learning to continue during a global crisis but at the same time the increase in the use of digital education tools has forced many institutions to address concerns from students regarding tools like proctoring software and surveillance-like techniques used to track learning and engagement. Alongside students' concerns, staff have highlighted the importance of the governance and implementation of technology used in education. 

The initial aim is to provide a starting point for informing the ethical use of Learning Technology for individuals, institutions and industry and explore questions such as:

  • What are the biggest issues emerging in ethical approaches to online and blended learning and teaching?

  • In what contexts does the need for an ethical framework arise and what are practical examples of this? 

  • And what would the framework need to provide for individuals, institutions and industry?

The framework also includes  case studies, example policies and reflective questionnaires to help individuals, institutions and industry to see how these principles can be put into action. 

To find out more, please visit or explore more articles from The Future of Education Technology.

Author: Dr Maren Deepwell, Chief Executive Officer, Association for Learning Technology