Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Thirsty: Taping Policies

After several nationally-covered incidents last year in which a student or professor had a breakdown in class, and other students chose to photograph or videotape and post the results to the internet instead of helping -- I think we all remember the case of the Michigan State professor (there but for the grace of God. . .); there was also a young woman who lost it during a review session with a TA (can't find that link) -- and after observing more and more phones left out on desks (but not obviously consulted) during my own classes and conferences, I'm thinking I should add a taping/videotaping policy to my syllabus.

I think the gist is that I don't really mind students taping in class or conferences, but I'd prefer they ask permission first, mostly to clarify that taping isn't automatically okay.  I'm also inclined to specify that they do not have permission to post any recordings (or pictures) of and/or material from class, whether generated by me or at least in part by their classmates, on the internet (I suppose they have the right to post their own work).

So, I'm wondering: 

Q.   Do others here have such policies on their syllabi?  If so, what do they cover? Did I forget anything I should include?  Are there any considerations I didn't take into account (I haven't actually checked the laws on secret audiotaping in my state, but will).  

13 comments :

  1. My syllabus does not allow the use of any sort of electronic devices whatsoever. All are verboten. And in this iteration of my syllabus, students must also leave all their bags on the floor (because some were hiding behind them to text). I basically state in writing that I deny permission to them to record my voice, or videotape me.

    I provide reasoning for this. The classroom is not a public venue. Other students may not appreciate being taped, and they haven't given permission even if I have (which I haven't), etc.

    You do an end run around all the potential problems with this sort of policy. Just the book and a notebook on the desk. No sign of electronics anywhere.

    That's it, or take another professor.

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  2. A minor but relevant point: I'd say stop using the word "taping" for a start: current students may never have seen a piece of magnetic tape, and the lawyers among them will say they weren't taping, they were recording you on their phone.

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  3. I was going to forbid all electronica but decided to do an experiment this semester.

    I had noticed that students who sat up front and used electronics seemed to used them in a productive way - taking notes, acquiring relevant information from online, crunching numbers to help them get a sense of scale - and that they used this info to support their rather active in-class participation.

    And in the back they were viewing videos and nudging each other and giggling and who knows, running their illicit drug businesses.

    So this semester my experiment is to restrict devices to a 'technology zone': first two rows ONLY (where I can see 'em and monitor what they are doing). At the first inappropriate technology use I have promised to impose a blanket ban on anything with an off switch. Policy goes into effect next week, so I am interested to see if there is a rush for seats in the front.

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    1. HMP, I like that idea. I hope it goes well. Tell us about the results, regardless of the outcome. I typically don't care what students do with their computers in class because it's so hard to police their activities but this actually may work.

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    2. A professor I assisted one semester tried to restrict laptop usage to the front two rows, and it completely failed to change student behavior. He did not threaten with a ban on all technology though, so maybe that would help.

      I ban all electronics in my classroom, but I haven't yet had to contend with the huge lecture courses. I do compromise by putting my Powerpoint slides online for students.

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  4. Side note: Cal, thanks for the new Friday Thirsty graphic!

    As for the thirsty, I never allow any recording unless the student has an official note from the necessary office. I simply don't speak and interact the same way if I know I'm being recorded. I tell them that, and don't care what they think of it.

    Leslie K.

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  5. A wonderful graphic, indeed. The woman pictured looks about as haggard as I sometimes feel by the time Fri. rolls around (and somehow I suspect that might not be coffee -- or tea -- in that cup).

    I teach in computer classrooms, so "no technology whatsoever" isn't an option (and would sort of contradict the philosophy that has me requesting such rooms in the first place). My participation policy does cover inappropriate use of technology, whether provided in the room or brought in by the student (and treats electronics more or less the same as it treats older technology, such as books: you don't text a friend *or* do your homework for another class in class). It's also entirely possible that there's already a (picture-only) video camera running somewhere behind a ceiling tile, mostly to keep someone from walking off with the equipment (there's no warning that that's the case, but still shots from video were distributed when someone boosted several projectors a few years ago). So we can't really go back to (non-livescribe) pen and paper only, nor are we entirely out of the reach of Big Brother whatever we do.

    I'm not thrilled with the idea of being audio-recorded (and suspect that it would change my behavior, too, to some extent, if I were absolutely sure I was being recorded), but I also suspect strongly enough that I often am (and that I will be even if I say "don't") that I'm just about ready to take it as a fact of life and work from there. The public/private distinction, especially, remains important to me; I'm much more comfortable with the idea of a student recording (yes, it does need to be recording; I'm showing my age with my language) for hir own reference than I am with the idea of the tapes ending up in some sort of public distribution. I'm also keenly aware that, however I feel about the matter, other students haven't consented to being recorded, and I'm not sure what to do about that. On the other hand, it's more a hands-on than a discussion class, so there isn't really all that much to record most days.

    At this point, I think I'm looking mostly for language that clarifies that the classroom, even if activities that take place there are recorded, remains a private space, and that would allow me (and/or my university's lawyers) to demand that recordings be taken down if, for instance, a student had a meltdown in my classroom (if I -- or one of my students -- end up naked and raving in a hallway, I fear I/(s)he am/is out of luck; that's pretty clearly a public space, though I'd still say that human decency demands not taking and posting pictures). I'm also beginning to have the suspicion that, though it seems like saying "please don't eat the daisies," I might actually need to tell them to call 911 if a medical (physical or mental) or other emergency arises.

    And there's also a part of me that feels that getting into this stuff on my syllabus (at least until the administration tells me I must, which may not be all that far in the future) is just plain ridiculous. That part may win, at least for another semester. Or perhaps I'll come up with some sort of policy that I can live with, and that centers around the issue of preserving privacy (mine, and also my students'). I think that's the main issue, at least for me.

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  6. I'm no lawyer, but you might be able to just assert your copyright over the lecture material. That'd give you a fairly solid legal ground, I think, to have it removed if it ends up on, say, YouTube. I don't do it just because my copyright exists whether or not I assert it on the syllabus, but if you're looking to remind the little dears, that might do it.

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  7. They can tape my miserable ass, but they have to use an all tube, reel to reel job.

    Nothing else.

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  8. Banning all electronics is ridiculous - time to step into the 21st century. Banning all recording definitely sounds reasonable, but prohibiting the use of laptops is laughable. Many students are accustomed to taking notes on laptops as of high school. Very unfortunate to see academics holding on to their old school ways.

    PS: what difference does it make if students are watching videos in back rows? If you are not a compelling professor, banning or censoring anything will not resolve the problem of your students not paying attention. Be engaging and captivating, and you will not need to implement ridiculous policies.

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    1. I am planning to come back to enjoy the shitstorm that is about to descend on you, Sis. I don't have time to contribute right now because I'm off to bore my first class today to tears.

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  9. I understand that a student can't post the lecturer's own material on the web, but a great deal of the material isn't the lecturer's to begin with.

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    1. ... which material is likewise copyrighted. The lecture itself constitutes fair use; posting said lecture on the web without permission constitutes infringement.

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