The Values Exchange: innovative web-based tool for ethics education

The tool I use the most in my teaching is the Values Exchange (Vx).

AUT Values Exchange Current Home page
AUT Values Exchange Current Home page

This was developed by Professor David Seedhouse. Originally only AUT had a Vx but now it is used in around 20 international universities as well as in several schools and a UK National Health Trust.

The Values Exchange offers powerful ways for creating teaching, learning and research opportunities across disciplines and between educational institutions. Using a range of philosophical frameworks and a social media type interface, the Vx assists users to explore practice-based decision-making, enabling deep thinking and offering unique ways of learning from others.

The Vx uses a Socratic method of posing questions and there are a number of different formats for doing this, such as a simple poll, a survey, a discussion three, digital sharing boards, quizzes and the most sophisticated method – the Think Screen.

The Think Screen is a series of 3 interactive screens that present users with a challenging ethical sceanrio. Users must decide to what extent they agree or disagree with a case proposal and who matters most. In the 2nd and 3rd screen users are presented with a series of ethical concepts and practical considerations and they choose ones that will most help them build a strong argument for the position they have taken. An important factor of the system is that there are no objective right or wrong positions; a ‘good’ response is one that is clearly justified.

Once the user has completed their case deliberation they submit their reasoning and gain access to all the responses of others who have also responded to the same case. This provides a unique insight into the thinking of others and provides rich opportunities to learn about the decision-making process of oneself, one’s peers and those from other professions.

The Vx system is also networked with other licence holders and so students have the ability to share cases and insights with students from other countries such as Australia, USA, UK & Eire.

Students have more or less the same access rights as the lecturer (although it is possible to set specific cases to hide responses for assessment purposes) and so it reflects a very egalitarian learning community. I begin the semester by loading cases that I think have relevance for the students but once they are familiar with the system they load all the content, based on their experienced and anticipated practice situations.

A familiar ‘facebook’ style social media interface with ‘Vx friending’ and Instant Messaging wraps around the various Socratic questioning methods. Other features such as the provision of private and public groups provide an effective place and space for teaching & learning. The system feels like a real innovative learning community. Ethics is notoriously difficult to teach and for me the Vx is an engaging way of thinking about ethics and decision making.

Private group: This private group contains all the teaching content and interactive activities for my current online students. This is where they receive announcements, interact with one another and post questions for deliberation.
Private group: This private group contains all the teaching content and interactive activities for my current online students. This is where they receive announcements, interact with one another and post questions for deliberation.
The private class group has interactive digital sharing boards. The one displayed here provides weekly content with links to key readings and links to various Vx activities for the week.
The private class group has interactive digital sharing boards. The one displayed here provides weekly content with links to key readings and links to various Vx activities for the week.
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