Chapman is planning to expand its recording of lectures in classroom. This raises a number of concerns for students and faculty that starts with the fact that many students don’t know that any classes are recorded.
The university currently records in 20 classrooms, seven of which are on main campus, and plans to expand its use of this recording technology to more classes in the future, according to Director of Student Learning Mary Litch.
Provost Glenn Pfeiffer said that there has been discussion around what type of classes to record and what consent will look like. But where were the students in this discussion?
Keeping records of what faculty and students say and do during class time lends itself to a sense of Big Brother-like scrutiny.
College is supposed to be a place where you can be wrong. But if your mistakes are recorded in infamy and posted online, the desire to take chances and learn will diminish. Professors who are admired for candid impressions of their work experience or advice will keep quiet for fear of repercussions.
Some students already don’t want to ask or answer questions in a classroom full of 30 people so that they are not judged for their opinions. The educational exercise of playing devil’s advocate could lead to misunderstandings when captured on video and cropped out of context.
There’s potential for students to become less engaged and disinterested or just not show up to class if they know that lectures will be posted later on Blackboard.
However unintentional, Chapman could be making classrooms a place where students and professors can’t speak freely. Free speech is something that administrators have repeatedly defended while rejecting censorship, and it could be dangerous to take a step back from that.
With no specific rules about informing students or asking for consent, how would students know if their class was being recorded? That shouldn’t be something that is left up to the discretion of the individual professor.
Last semester, literature professor Samantha Dressel had students write down how they were feeling following the election of President Donald Trump and then read the responses out loud. The responses portrayed a wide variety of emotions and were personal to each of the students.
An exercise like that would hardly be possible and not be nearly as powerful in a recorded classroom. Some students wouldn’t want their taped responses leaked to others outside of the class, creating distrust among classroom settings, which is a vital part of having honest discussion. These types of classes are not currently being recorded but it is unclear when the technology could expand to include this.
College should be a place where students can feel comfortable to make mistakes in the classroom. It also should be a place where professors can speak their mind in the interest of education. Recording more classes could restrict these two critical aspects of learning at Chapman.