Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Smartphones, YouTube, and Academic Freedom
Economics makes a lot of use of figures and equations, and I invite students to take pictures of those at the end of class -- often I make the effort to leave the particularly complex diagrams alone for the duration.
Now as far as Professor Penn, there have to be less provocative or insulting ways to express one's disagreement with Republican policies, and I suspect similar teaching strategies are available to a political scientist channeling a fascist.
But also: I think that one of the primary requirements of an effective learning environment is trust and respect between professors and students. I teach a LOT of controversial material, and the reality is that students even without the aid of video could probably have lodged complaints against me based just on the material in the syllabus. They haven't - not even when I was teaching as a grad student or when I was not protected by tenure. Because I respect them and I gain their trust, and ultimately, I earn their respect and their trust. I realize all of this is touchy-feely, but even still I think that when professors start determining the content of their courses or their teaching methods based on a fear of being "caught in the act" then it basically goes against the principles that should guide creating an enriching classroom environment.
That said, I have allowed it for specific purposes (like a demonstration) but I am always disappointed when I didn't get a copy like I asked.
BTW it isn't just phones. Ever see one of the pens that records while you take notes with it? Really cool, and also illegal here, but less likely to be noticed.
I would be surprised if that person wasn't recording a video because of the reputation of that particular prof. Even positive anonymous reviews about how he taught creative writing said he was a jerk.
As Dr. Crazy implied, it is a lot easier to notice someone holding up a phone in a class of 20 to 30 than in a class of 200 to 300.
I give a talk at the beginning of each developmental English class I teach about public places and private places and taking someone's picture and publishing it without their permission in a place which is considered private, such as a college classroom.
Then I spice it up with what if some stalker is looking for a particular person and finds the video of him/her in a class put on Youtube or elsewhere. I'm sure no one wants that to happen, so let's have any videotaping posed and rehearsed and people in it wanting to be in it.
So far that has been effective, but I am aware every minute in my classes that I may be taped, so I prepare myself to be on camera and watch what I say. As I said, my subject doesn't have opportunity for many controversial discussions.