This week I am giving a presentation about a small project that was funded by the University of Melbourne's Office for Research Ethics and Integrity. The project investigated the ethical issues that aged care professionals encounter when designing, implementing, and evaluating social programs for older people. We found that ethical issues are rarely reported in the literature on social isolation interventions, but aged care professionals do encounter ethical concerns, such as how to ensure programs are designed and run in a way that is respectful of participants’ individuality. The findings suggest that there is a need to further investigate these issues in order to inform future ethical designs of interventions and social technologies for isolated older people.
The work will be presented at "Beyond Compliance: Ethics and Integrity Research Showcase" on Tuesday 30th September.
A report about the showcase event is available on the OREI blog.
In late September I will be attending a workshop on Activity Theory in the Age of Social Media. It will be a good opportunity to reengage with some of the ideas in activity theory and connect these to my current work.
During my PhD research (10 years ago) I used activity theory to examine how mobile technologies were appropriated to fit in to people's learning and work activities. Activity theory proved to be a useful framework that provided a connection between the four case studies I conducted and enabled me to examine the sociocultural contexts that shaped - and were shaped by - the introduction of new mobile technologies in each setting.
Since then my research has examined social technologies in diverse settings, including higher education and aged care. While I haven't had the opportunity to draw on activity theory for much of this work, it provides a useful way of explaining some of the disruptions - or contradictions - that often occur when social technologies are introduced into these formal settings.
Dr Jenny Waycott, Associate Professor, School of Computing & Information Systems, The University of Melbourne
Contact: jwaycott @ unimelb.edu.au