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Do TPS classes use cameras?

Do I need a camera for class?

Cameras are not required for our classes unless specified in the course description requirements. However, starting in 2021 cameras will be allowed for discussion portions of our live classes where there is considerable verbal interaction.

There are pros and cons to cameras in the classroom:

  • Conferencing video has improved so that scalable video (where low speed connections can mix with high speed connections and see more than just a tiny talking head) is coming into usability. This opens the way for academically purposeful video (e.g., live demonstrations) that allows everyone to engage.
  • Purposeful and thoughtful integration of cameras can enhance both academic and social development.
  • However, use of cameras in the classroom can also detract from effective learning and healthy social development because cameras in online meetings effectively place participants 2-3 feet from one another in face-to-face contact.
    • Academically this is unnatural and distracting for both teacher and student — imagine taking or teaching an in-person class with everyone looking at each other’s faces from two feet away. Participants become preoccupied with faces and appearances — including their own — rather than academic content.
    • Socially, maintaining eye contact from 2-3 feet away is associated with intimacy, not professional discourse — an in-person professional meeting where the participants are close together in sustained eye contact would be socially inappropriate.
    • Studies are confirming these concerns.
  • Online classes are usually recorded. If cameras are used and recorded, this potentially creates hours of footage of minor students that is recorded and retained at least for a time, during which any other student or party with access can capture, retain, modify or otherwise misuse without any knowledge or consent of the affected parties.

In consideration of the these potential gains and risks, TPS is taking a measured approach to use of cameras in classes:

  • Camera use by students is optional. A camera is not required for TPS classes unless specifically listed as a requirement (e.g., for a public speaking or sign language course).
  • We turn off cameras during lecture periods in our live classes. We want to keep students focused on the interactive class content being shown by the teacher, not on watching cameras or showing their own camera.
  • We allow cameras during interactive discussion periods in our classes when the teachers can focus on moderating the audio and video interaction.
  • We encourage camera use for some classes like global language conversation classes or lab demonstration classes where the academic interaction can be directly enhanced through audio and video collaboration.
  • We do not record cameras in the classroom. We record class academic content without recording the cameras, to help safeguard the security and privacy of our students and staff.

We also continue to maintain an enhanced concern for the safety and privacy of our students:

  • Our rooms are accessible only by users registered for access to that specific class section for that specific time period. We do not allow student access to any unsupervised or unmonitored room.
  • As we implement and increase camera use, we are also increasing monitoring and logging to prevent anonymous or unmonitored use of cameras in rooms with students. We openly record and log all interactions in rooms (study rooms, meeting rooms) that do not have a staff member present 100% of the time.
  • We maintain all records securely and privately, accessible only by certified staff members.