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 Cameras in the classroom 
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This really doesn't have to do with our discussion in class or the books we have read, but I thought I would post this question anyway.

I was watching the nightly news the other night and there was a story about a school district in Mississippi that has placed video cameras in all classrooms. The principal from her computer via the internet can pull up classrooms and monitor them.

You can probably guess what the debate was about - privacy. However, they shared both points of views, but surprisingly the majority of students, teachers and parents interviewed, supported the idea. The school district said that discipline problems decreased signficantly and overall teaching increased. Students said that they don't pay attention to the cameras, but they know they are they are present and they can't make excuses for their behavior. Teachers said it helped with parents who don't believe that their child would behave in such a manner etc.

What are your thoughts on using cameras in the classroom? What about privacy issues?

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Daphne King


Wed Oct 15, 2003 2:37 pm
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As long as everyone is cool with it, I like it. I thionk it also makes observations of teachers more objective, and less diturbing for the class. I really see it as a great learning tool. I think it's good that the kids are aware of it, because that helps them, think before acting out, which is difficult to do.

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Thu Oct 16, 2003 10:38 am
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We have used video cameras on some school buses that were having lots of discipline problems. The results were rather remarkable. The objectivity of the camera eliminates alot of "gray" area. Perhaps the key to the success is that cameras do not stay on one bus for an extended period of time. Kids never know when the camera is on their bus. As for the classroom, I'm not sure how I feel. There are times when I think it would be a valuable tool but I can't really imagine "policing" the videos all of the time. I don't want to spend all my time watching videos but can see how having access to them could be helpful. A very interesting question to me!


Sun Oct 19, 2003 6:42 pm
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I would be perfectly fine with having a camera in my classroom. It could be helpful for students who need to be observed for special needs they might have. Also, it could be helpful for discipline problems, which was how it was used on the buses at my previous school.


Sun Oct 19, 2003 6:55 pm
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I think cameras in the classroom are a great idea. I cannot think of one legitimate argument against it. The only teachers who may oppose this, in my opinion, would be those who might have something to hide or who are not confident in the job they are doing. I feel that the camera would serve to lesson teacher nervousness about formal observations, provide the teacher with reflection on their own performance, and clarify behavioral situations that may occur. To me this is a win-win situation!

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Amy E. Wilson


Mon Oct 20, 2003 9:43 am
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I found your comments to be very interesting - I would have thought teachers would object to cameras in the classroom. I think the camera use is great if it helps with discipline problems - my biggest fear for my future teaching career. I have known parents of young children who would not believe their "little darlings" would commit such unkind acts!

I have heard of the effectiveness of cameras in the day care centers, and even in home day care. I am sure that the day care world is safer for the small children now that the videocameras are rolling. Sometimes for the parent, a picture is worth a thousand words, too. I think some centers have internet access for the parents to view their children's classroom, which is a fantastic innovation, and tool for the parent's peace of mind! I guess this progression from preschool, to school bus, to public school classroom is a good one.

I agree, if I were the public school teacher, it would be preferable to be "observed" via a non-obtrusive videocamera, than to have the observer sitting there making me (more) self conscious!

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Joyce Jarrard


Sat Oct 25, 2003 8:06 pm
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Great topic Daphne! Cameras in the classroom - sounds too much like Big Brother to me! Topics like that depress me severely because my big question is - where in the world has integrity gone? I was brought up being taught that it was what you did when no one was watching that made you who you were. The fact that we need surveillance to make teachers produce or students behave - to me that is preposterous! I firmly believe that if education goes that way we will be traveling down a slippery slope, the end of which lies in scary realms. As a future administrator, I'd better know my teachers well enough - and they had better know how much I'll be in their classrooms anyway - to not have to resort to such, well, non-sense. People should do things for the right reasons or not do them at all. I know that's awfully Pollyanna, but ya know, it is just that simple. I'd better stop, my keyboard is smoking! :wink:


Mon Oct 27, 2003 10:28 am
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Michael - very interesting take on this topic. I like the way you approached this topic. One questions for you - what about student safety? An administrator may think he/she knows his/her teachers very well, but what about those small percent of students who do act up in class and can pose a possible threat? Can you ever be too safe?

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Daphne King


Mon Oct 27, 2003 6:48 pm
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I do not have a problem with cameras in classrooms. I do not know if it is always necessary. At my school we used cameras in the hallways and a classroom last year because of discipline problems. It helped tremendously because we were able to show parents what was happening in the classroom with their child. The teacher was very much in support for it because it helped him with the discipline of the room.
We also keep cameras on our buses. We have many incidents on our buses so we use the cameras as a safety measure.


Tue Oct 28, 2003 8:59 am
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I disagree totally, Michael. Think of all the positives that could come from it. In addition to safety and behavioral issues, which to me make it a no brainer (yes, things should be done for the right reasons but there isn't anything wrong with a little full disclosure to encourage the process), in essence this could open up the classroom and encourage more participation from families.

If we view it solely as a policing measure then there will be negative feelings about it. But wouldn't it be nice to be able to see your kid do a 5 minute oral report in history class from your office desk or from your home. Wouldn't we all like the freedom to see what our kids are learning for good or bad? Families could have a lot to offer in the educational process if we were willing to open up the classroom.


Tue Oct 28, 2003 3:44 pm
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I have been thinking more on this topic. In many situations people view technological advances as an intrusion or inconvenience to the way we have always done things. In many situations this may be true and certainly there are plenty of opportunities to use technology is ways which aren't beneficial to what we are trying to do or to the culture we are trying to create.

Cameras in the classroom is a pretty interesting idea in that I believe it has amazing potential to be used for both good and bad. Obviously noone is comfortable with the idea of "Big Brother" watching your every move. However, I would hope that educators believe fundamentally that parents have the right to know what is going on in the classroom and also have the right to visit the classroom. If this isn't the case or if someone believes there are situations when this isn't productive I would be interested in hearing it.

To me cameras could allow parents to visit the classroom without having to take the time to travel and leave their other obligations. I think that it would be a great addition to education if that was its primary purpose and what the school sold it as to its teachers. Obviously, a permanent record of what happens in the classroom would be beneficial in discipline issues as well and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. It could also be a pretty powerful way to conduct research on teaching techniques too.


Mon Nov 03, 2003 3:02 pm
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I do not agree with cameras in classrooms and on buses. It is an invasion of privacy. You may remember the book, 1984. Teachers and bus drivers should handle the behavior problems per school policy.


Fri Nov 07, 2003 8:23 pm
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