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July 21, 2011

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Gregory Duhl

Jim Hilbert, Vanessa Denis, Jaclyn Millner, and I teach a course called Transactions and Settlements at William Mitchell. We have students discuss the ethical issues that arise in the simulations on online discussion boards (which we call "ethics labs"). We require students to use their names. Part of the purpose of the course is for us to facilitate the professional development of each student, and I believe that would be defeated if we allowed the students to post anonymously. As moderators, we help students who make "off-track" comments get back on track. We also encourage the students to help each other. The students cannot do the simulations anonymously. We believe the ethical issues that arise are critical to the simulations, and we want the students to use their own identities for their discussion board posts as well.

Jessica Owley

I think this is a hard question and it makes me think about anonymous posting on blogs (something I occasionally do) and anonymous course evaluations. Anonymity in such cases can be helpful. Perhaps it gives folks courage to say things that they would not otherwise say. Perhaps folks are more truthful. But at the same time, there has been a movement to remove anonymity in these situations. In some cases, anonymity gives people a sense that they don't need to be polite or responsible. No idea how to strike the right balance here though.

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