Ethical Issues in Online Learning

Ethical Issues in Online Learning

Teaching remotely poses ethical concerns unique to the remote situation. The problem is much more complicated when distance education now includes online instruction. The moral dilemmas that teachers and students encounter are amplified in online learning contexts. Online video conferencing and other platforms bridge linguistic, cultural, and physical boundaries. They accommodate complex discourses and various relationships.

Different types of data are automatically stored in a large permanent form. We highlight ethical concerns about issues of fairness and diversity, surveillance and consent, identification and confidentiality in a discussion of the practices and welfare of the faculty and students.

Top 6 Ethical Issues in Online Learning

The main ethical issues in online learning include:

The integrity of Online Academic Assessment

Online testing frequently increases the risk of academic dishonesty or cheating during the academic learning process. Taking credit for someone else’s work is the most prevalent type of academic dishonesty. In addition, the learners’ lack of preparation and interest in the learning module can be linked to academic dishonesty.

It can also be linked to informal collaboration to fool the system by engaging in widespread cheating without concern for being found or punished. This is one of the significant ethical issues that exist during online learning programs.

Adoption of Wrong Narratives

Students may not be able to connect with the intent of the teacher. It can facilitate room for misunderstandings and the adoption of wrong narratives by students. Instructors might not be able to influence the students the way they want.

The absence of real bodies in the online classroom1 makes it less difficult for students to engage in outside conversation about the instructor’s behaviour or the subject matter of their lectures. In addition, this makes it possible for online instructors to influence students’ political, religious, or other viewpoints through the virtual classroom.

Resource Limitations

It takes a lot of planning and content creation for the lectures in order to interest students on an online platform. There are many obstacles to productive dialogue and many effects of online learning2. Sometimes, students choose not to engage out of boredom or because they are sick of sitting online all-day long lectures.

Additionally, seeing their classmates in person motivates kids to participate actively in class, which is regrettably lacking in a virtual classroom. Both the student and the teacher may feel anxious as a result.

Chances of Missed Deadlines

Distance learning courses have been observed to encourage procrastination more than traditional courses. Regular interaction with teachers might help prevent procrastination. Give students the impression that they have essential duties to do on time. Distributed deadlines encourage students to work on their assignments for longer periods. Distance education does not build that much pressure.

Improved online learning3 can produce favourable outcomes. Students manage their academic schedules around their everyday duties by using tools like calendars with listed start and finish dates for assignments, discussion topics, and chat activities. However, if little carelessness occurs, it can be problematic.

Proctored and UnProctored Exams

When it comes to unethical methods, there aren’t many distinctions between proctored tests administered online and offline. There aren’t many disparities in the students’ scores either. Exams without proctoring are more likely to include unethical behaviour and produce better test scores.

This is because the online question bank gives test-takers the option to confirm the answers. However, it was discovered that proctoring exams significantly reduced the performance gaps between question bank tests and paraphrased item tests.

Digital Inequalities

When educators first try to implement online learning platforms, the students and young teachers who are more tech-savvy will quickly adjust to the new technology. However, there are places where internet access is not available. Frequent internet connection issues could be a challenge for both students and teachers.

There are many e-learning courses available as well. However, not every student will be able to show up to class every day. It could cause significant learning deficits, especially in impoverished areas. It is one of the major hurdles in the path of learning online.


Distance learning has advanced significantly since it was first used as a teaching method. However, some challenges and ethical issues need to be handled to execute the tactics properly. For this, it is essential for both educational institutions, including teachers and students, to work on self-reflection using different reflection models4 and come together to prevent ethical issues in this new form of learning.


  1. The good, bad and ethical issues of online education
  2. The effects of online learning on student performance
  3. Ways to improve online learning experience
  4. A Pragmatic Elaboration of Different Reflection Models

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