Recently, on the AP World History Listserv, there has been a very active thread on students recording teachers in the classroom. It seems to have started with a teacher asking for thoughts regarding a principal giving students permission to bring their laptops to class and record their teachers with the built in web-cams. The discussion has been fast and furious.
I've noticed two things about the discussion. First, there seems to be an US/THEM mentality between teachers and administrators. I am interpreting some of the responses to mean that teachers are viewing this type of administrative action as an attempt to "catch" teachers doing something bad. Second, nowhere in this discussion has anyone discussed the need to educate students about their responsibilities in using such technology. The assumption seems to be that students will take the video and/or audio and use it for evil.
I've written about this problem before. As educators we are getting into the habit of demonizing the technology rather than teaching responsible behavior. Even NEA Today published a recent article about the pitfalls of allowing students to record in the classroom. Yes, we all have bad days and may even say something that unintentionally offends someone's sensibilities, but banning the technology just doesn't seem like the right answer in 2008. Perhaps we should all take a deep breath and examine resources, such as those offered by CommonSenseMedia, that will help us educate our students and their parents about responsible use of technology.