Concerns in Online Colleges

There are many legal issues facing the online educational community. The online community faces concerns with digital resources that if not employ appropriately may create hardships and legal issues. Inappropriate use has the potential for copyright infringement, plagiarism, cyberbullying, and unethical behavior with serious consequences. However, awareness about fair use and acceptable use of online resources and appropriate online behavior has the potential for significant cognitive growth and creativity.

Is it easy to engage in inappropriate behavior in the online classroom?

Inappropriate use in the online classroom faces similar if not the same issues as the conventional classroom. For instance, although it may seem easy to engage in bullying, or unethical behavior in the classroom, online colleges normally impose strict guidelines about Acceptable Use.

What are some common legal issues the online classroom faces?

Plagiarism and inappropriate use such as copyright infringement, privacy concerns, due to unawareness about ethical dilemmas are some of the most familiar issues in the classroom, including the traditional classroom.

How do online colleges accommodate special needs students?

Private online universities, normally, handle special needs cases on a case by case basis. However, American Public University “complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and state and local requirements regarding students with disabilities”(, providing special needs students access to the online classroom and world of possibilities.

How do online institutions enforce ethical use in the online classroom?

Online Universities, much like traditional universities, have a stick ethical code. For instance, American Public University offers the Academic Dishonesty policy within the Student Handbook. The Academic Dishonesty policy states that “… violation of the standards of academic honesty within a course may result in dismissal from the University System”(, Illustrating how strict the policy is. In addition, to hold the students accountable for inappropriate behavior, APUS holds itself accountable. Hence, “the University System conducts its operations and makes its public representations in an ethical manner”(

How do online colleges avoid plagiarism, inappropriate use, and unethical behavior?

generally, online institutions rely on services such as to check for plagiarism and other inappropriate use. One unethical behavior is detected, instructors, or even institution directly, make take strict measures. Hence, students, as well as instructors, are guided towards ethical behavior and making the right choices whether ethical dilemmas present.

How do online colleges protect the privacy of their students?

APUS and nearly every relevant online University abides by FERPA, which protects the rights to privacy of all students. “The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education”( However, students are always encouraged to avoid inappropriate use and to abide by the University’s standards of Acceptable use by limiting the amount of information shared outside the classroom.

What are some of the consequences for inappropriate technology use including plagiarism?

Most online Universities have a zero tolerance for inappropriate technology use. Privacy violations, cyberbullying, copyright violations go beyond individual institutions and may be punishable by state or federal laws. However, in an effort to maintain academic, and acceptable use, online colleges maintain a zero tolerance policy towards such issues while promoting academic, and ethical integrity within the student community through general announcements, documents, and policies.  

How do online colleges promote awareness about fair use, copyright infringement, privacy laws, appropriate use, cyberbullying, and ethical dilemmas?

Online institutions normally promote awareness through course syllabus, ethical framework, appropriate use policies, as well as emails, and admission sessions ( However, when it comes to ethical dilemmas it is up to the individual to make the right choices.

What is the future of ethics in the online classroom?

The online classroom will only grow and expand from now on. As technology becomes more standard across the world, online colleges will adapt and expand. New technologies will benefit the online classroom, but may also create numerous difficulties as well. For instance, although Turnitin may help with plagiarism, it may be difficult for institutions to handle inappropriate use or other unethical behavior. However, in the end, it will always be up to the individual to exercise ethical, moral, and appropriate behavior as is the case in most situations in life.


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