Monday, March 22, 2010

Should Cell Phones With Cameras Be Banned in Class?

I'm shocked, shocked to see that kids use cell phones to record their teachers. Technology has changed and many of us old fogies still don't get it. I'm pro-cell phone camera in class (I've noticed many of you become more focused when acting as videographers for a dancing monkey routine). What do you think?

Article reprinted below for educational purposes.

Why Teachers Want to Ban Cellphone Cameras From Classrooms

March 23, 2009 03:58 PM ET | Eddy Ramírez | Permanent Link | Print

A bill that would create a task force to study the impact of cellphone cameras and video-recording devices in Connecticut classrooms has sparked a debate between educators who say the captured content can be harmful to their careers and those who say that restricting what images students can document might lead to battles over free speech.

The state's largest teachers union is leading the push for state lawmakers to intervene. Union leaders say imposing limits on the use of cameras and other recording devices in school might be necessary to prevent damaging videos and pictures from ending up on Facebook and YouTube. The Hartford Courant reports that there are thousands of these videos online. One pokes fun at a Connecticut high school physics teacher who is shown "flailing his arms, short-hopping across the classroom, then pushing against the wall" in an attempt to demonstrate how molecules move. The problem is that the surreptitiously shot video doesn't carry the teacher's explanation of the principles, only the sound of instrumental music. The teacher, who had no knowledge of the video's existence until the newspaper contacted him, has since asked a former student to take it off the Web. Still, the union says that secret recordings of teachers are an "increasing concern" and that they can hurt teachers' reputations and put minors at risk.

Legal experts argue that teachers have a limited expectation of privacy in the classroom. They say that attempts to regulate what students can film or record can provoke free speech challenges. In some cases, students have used recording devices to capture teachers behaving inappropriately. A Connecticut high school math teacher was suspended in 2006 after a cellphone video that appeared on the Internet showed him hurling a homophobic slur at a student.

The state legislature is likely to decide whether to move forward with the bill by April 6.


  1. I think camera phones should be allowed in the classroom. The students pay more attention as videographers. Also, if teachers are worried about crazy things they do being posted on the web, they shouldn't do them. For example, Mr. Tueting is okay with students taking video during his class because he knows his students respect him enough not to make him look like a complete idiot when they post things on the web.

  2. Cameras should be allowed in the classroom. If a video of what a teacher is doing in his/her class would be detrimental to his/her career, then he/she shouldn't be doing it in the first place. AND I think when kids tape their teachers doing something, it helps them remember the lesson better.

  3. I agree with Sam and Ryan that video cameras should be allowed in class. I can see some teacher's worries that students will post videos without the content behind the teacher's actions, making the teacher look stupid. On the other hand, the teacher should be firm and confident enough in his/her actions and teaching styles to be able to defend him/herself in immature videos or should just not care because doing whatever they did helped his/her students learn the information better.

  4. As of now the rules at HHS prohibit any cell phone use in the first place, but I think that cameras should be allowed if it is okay with the teacher. There are a few cases where a teacher got screwed with a video, but for the most part I think it could be a positive thing. Also, Mr. Blair came in yesterday and made a good point, noting that even if they did make new rules that prohibited cameras, it would make absolutely no difference for our school.

  5. I personally don't think it would be a very good idea to allow cameras or other recoding devices in the class rooms. Even if the teacher was completely innocent in their actions, people such as parents viewing the videos out of context can get the wrong message. Also kids can edit the videos to create "proof" of a teacher breaking some rule and will cause so much public outrage that the teacher will be fired or wrongfully labeled. Parents might call in and complain that some teacher unfairly yelled at their child, or they will call people like Tueting a communist and force him to teach less "offensive" curriculum.

  6. In my opinion, camera phones in the classroom should not be an issue. As long as they are not distracting students from paying attention, they have the potential to be a great study tool. While I can understand the other side of the argument, perhaps having camera phones in the classroom would keep teachers more accountable. Whether camera phones are allowed or not, though, there will always be a handful of kids who whip out their camera phones in class and use the footage irresponsibly.

  7. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but the constant presence of video cameras REALLY bothers me, even in a public place like a school. They're an invasion of privacy, and the Internet makes video a form of social policing. It's disturbing to think that we hold back our actions when we are being taped (which, admit it, EVERYONE does). As with the physics teacher example, our actions can be misconstrued or put out of context in ways that can harm us and leave us open to ridicule, especially on the Wild West of the Internet.

    That being said, teachers should only videophones to be used with their consent and knowledge. This leaves open the door for a fair amount of liberty while reducing the risks of the phones. I also question the logic of videophones helping kids focus. If you're taping something, you're usually more focused on taping itself than WHAT you're taping.

  8. This issue should not be headed to the courts. Every school has a different learning environment and some students learn better with visuals than straight lectures. Teachers should set a classroom policy regarding what can and cannot be filmed. If they feel it would help then allow the camera phones. If they think it will be distracting then ban them in that classroom. The teacher's union is blowing everything out of proportion.


Questions? Comments? Bueller? Bueller?