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Big Brother is watching … only it’s your vice principal.  If you thought that getting technology into schools was the primary issue or even getting teachers to integrate was bigger.  This might change your mind.  By way of Mashable, I heard about this story:

BoingBoing reports that a recent case filing in Robbins vs. Lower Merion School District, a Pennsylvania school, is a class action suit on behalf of students with school-issued laptops whose webcams have been used to watch the students and their families at home.

It was discovered that the laptops issued by the high school contained software allowing administrators to covertly activate the on-board webcam. The plaintiff, Blake J. Robbins, was disciplined by the school for “improper behavior in his home.” The evidence of said impropriety was brought forth by the school vice principal, who displayed a photo of Robbins taken by the laptop’s webcam.

This was also reported on HLN this morning as well.  The level of weird and creepy in this is enough to require a shower.  This is oddly reminiscent of an episode of Criminal Minds minus the serial killer, FBI, and quirky characters.  Who knows?  Maybe we’ll see the quirky characters unfold in this story?  But I don’t believe we’ll like them as much as Garcia, Hotch, and Reid.

About Michael M Grant

Dr. Michael M. Grant is a passionate professor, researcher, and consultant. He works with faculty members, schools and universities, and districts to integrate technology meaningfully and improve teaching and learning. When 140 characters just won't work, then he blogs here at Viral-Notebook.com. He has a beautiful wife and three equally beautiful daughters, who will change the world.

7 Thoughts on “Trusting your school with the technology may become the issue

  1. Elissa W. on March 8, 2010 at 3:44 pm said:

    Wow. That is really frightening if you really let yourself think about it. I wonder if the school’s original goal was to be able to view students’ home lives or not. Why would they even have the ability to watch students at home? Is that not against the law? I feel like the computers should not have even been equipped with that kind of software in the first place, since the laptops were specifically intended for student use. This kind of thing really gives me the goosebumps. I remember when people would talk about this kind of thing, but it did not feel real. It was more like an underlying paranoia that was unnecessary. Now it seems that this idea of “Big Brother” is becoming more and more of a reality. I do not even know how people could combat that kind of surveillance. People like me anyway. Thank you for sharing this story.

    Hopefully not being watched,
    Elissa W.

  2. Elissa W. on March 8, 2010 at 3:49 pm said:

    Elissa W. (UU)

  3. Lily C. (UU) on March 8, 2010 at 8:55 pm said:

    As Elissa mentioned, the fact that school administrators have the capability to take advatantage of the students and other technology users is indeed frightening. The purpose of using and integrating technology into the classroom is to enhance the learning environment; however, with this also come the risks of using modern day technology. Although most administators would never seek to invade the privacy of students, there are those who will take advantage of this technology. Because of these potential risks, stricter laws should be put in place or better enforced to prevent this invasion of privacy. It is unfortunate that this really is even an issue within our society; however, something needs to be done to ensure a safe and effective learning environment for the students.

    Lily C. (UU)

  4. Heather Y. (UU) on March 10, 2010 at 3:11 pm said:

    I was very shocked as I read this story. It is crazy to think that a teacher would even want to watch their students in their homes. However, this is the reality. Our world has gotten to the place where we no longer know who we can and can not trust. It would be a helpful thing to have laptops in the classroom, but they should not have webcams. It really is sad that this issue has to even be thought about, but in our society today you just never know.

  5. Maggie L on March 10, 2010 at 10:03 pm said:

    That is so ridiculous to hear! I cannot even imagine the invasion of privacy that must have taken place in many circumstances. I think it is really cool that a lot of schools are starting to provide laptops. However, the fact that what would appear to be a great learning tool that the students were lucky to receive were used to spy on them is so twisted. I find it especially amazing that they attempted to punish a student biased off of information gained through such a illegal means. This news sadly will likely discourage parents from wanting to integrate technology in their child’s learning experience and cause distrust of it.

  6. Maggie L on March 10, 2010 at 10:03 pm said:

    That is so ridiculous to hear! I cannot even imagine the invasion of privacy that must have taken place in many circumstances. I think it is really cool that a lot of schools are starting to provide laptops. However, the fact that what would appear to be a great learning tool that the students were lucky to receive were used to spy on them is so twisted. I find it especially amazing that they attempted to punish a student biased off of information gained through such a illegal means. This news sadly will likely discourage parents from wanting to integrate technology in their child’s learning experience and cause distrust of it.
    Maggie
    (UU)

  7. Legon Craighead (UU) on March 16, 2010 at 8:48 am said:

    This story was shocking to me. I 100% do not agree with this being done. It is an invasion of privacy for both the student and the parent of the student. I believe that this is abusing technology and taking advantage of the growth that is being made in technology within in the classroom. Stories like this will not encourage use of technology within the classroom by teachers and it will not help parents feel comfortable with their students using technology while at school. Without a certain level of trust, it is hard to get parents on board with what you are doing in the classroom. This schools mistake will have dire consequences for not only their school, but in every school with students whose parents see this story. Many parents will assume that since one school did it that there is a possibility that their child’s school will too. The choice of these administrators can set back the attempts of so many to increase the use of technology within the classroom.

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