[Libs-Or] OLA IFC Tuesday Topics Nov. 2020: Distance Learning with Video and Audio - Privacy Considerations

Miranda Doyle doylem at loswego.k12.or.us
Tue Nov 17 11:35:12 PST 2020

Welcome to Tuesday Topics, a monthly series covering topics with
intellectual freedom implications for libraries of all types. Each message
is prepared by a member of OLA's Intellectual Freedom Committee or a guest
writer. Questions can be directed to the author of the topic or to the IFC

Distance Learning with Video and Audio - Privacy Considerations

As most Oregon teachers and professors meet with students on Zoom, Google
Meet, or other video conferencing tools, privacy is an urgent concern.
Teaching online may not be ideal for most, but is still an opportunity to
connect with students and stay safe during the pandemic. However, because
there was little advanced planning, many instructors -- and those who
support them, including school and academic librarians -  jumped to online
platforms without time to thoroughly vet the policies, procedures and
tools. Public libraries are also dealing with these issues as they plan for
online library programming, such as author visits, trivia nights, guest
speakers and more.

Some issues librarians and educational institutions should consider include:

Students (or parents) may be uncomfortable allowing an entire classroom
(virtually) into their home. Can students use blurred or virtual
backgrounds? It’s important to keep this option turned on in the
institutional settings, so that students and teachers can choose to hide
their living spaces. This is difficult on some devices, however, including
Chromebooks, the device most K-12 schools distribute to students -- they
don’t support Zoom backgrounds. A class project creating a physical
backdrop for students’ virtual classroom space might be helpful.

What can or should teachers require of students’ camera use? Requesting
that students keep their cameras on, for example, seems reasonable.
Requiring it may be problematic. For one thing, not all students have the
stable wifi needed for both audio and video. For another, requiring “video
on” is difficult sometimes for students who are anxious about their
surroundings or their appearance.

Many teachers are recording their classes. Where are these videos stored?
How are they shared and accessed? How long are schools keeping them? What
shows in the video - only the teacher and their presentation, or the entire
class? Should class discussions be recorded? What if there is a classroom
management issue caught on camera during a class? There are so many issues
with recording and sharing classes, and we have barely begun to discuss them

Anyone (student, parent, or roommate) can use a phone or screen capture
software to record portions or all of an online class. Those videos can (and
already have
been posted to social media or used to bully other students. Are there
protocols at the institutional or classroom level to address such
instances? Are students being taught the ethics around recording others?
For public library programming, should staff warn participants that they
should be aware of their surroundings or content?

What do teachers do if they see or overhear problematic or worrisome things
during distance learning? While of course it is a positive thing if
teachers are able to detect and report abuse or neglect, there is also the
potential for over policing. For example, the Washington Post reported in
police officers were sent to a Black 7th grader’s house because he was
playing with a Nerf gun during an online art class.

How secure are online video platforms like Zoom and Google Meet? While Zoom
has improved its security settings
<https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-enable-zoom-encryption/>, it’s still
important to ensure that schools are using the best settings and security
practices, for both meetings and storing video recordings. Platforms need
to be FERPA and COPPA compliant and have safeguards like waiting rooms,
passcodes, and authentication turned on.

Teachers who are working from home - not their classrooms - should also be
aware of their environment and what is in the background, or what students
may overhear. They should also be aware that parents are now able to watch
and listen to their classes, which may have an impact on academic freedom
and their ability to discuss controversial topics with their students.
Students may also be inhibited as far as discussions, knowing that what
they say won’t necessarily stay within classroom walls.

Testing is another issue that is challenging during distance learning.
There are testing programs that increase surveillance on students - for
example, software that is essentially spyware that students are required to
install (both in higher ed
and in K-12
If it’s installed on their own (not school-owned) computers, that’s an even
more daunting issue. Even on school-owned computers, determining who has
access to search history, camera views, and more can be challenging.

As we continue with distance learning in most Oregon school districts,
colleges, and universities, at least for the near future, there are some
good tips for families in this New York Times article about online privacy
For teachers,Torrey Trust, an Associate Professor of Learning Technology at
the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has some excellent resources
<https://torreytrust.com/projects/>on distance learning and on using video
conferencing with students, including this graphic
Public libraries can also possibly offer workshops or tips on protecting
online privacy when on camera. Last but not least, the Library Freedom
Project wiki
has an excellent summary and list of resources.

Miranda Doyle

OLA Intellectual Freedom Committee Member

District Librarian, Lake Oswego School District

Works Cited

Algar, Selim. “NYC Kids Manipulating and Posting Remote Teaching Clips
Online.” New York Post, New York Post, 20 May 2020,

Barrett, Brian. “Zoom Finally Has End-to-End Encryption. Here's How to Use
It.” Wired, Conde Nast, www.wired.com/story/how-to-enable-zoom-encryption/.

Caron, Christina. “How to Protect Your Family's Privacy During Remote
Learning.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Aug. 2020,

Chin, Monica. “An Ed-Tech Specialist Spoke out about Remote Testing
Software - and Now He's Being Sued.” The Verge, The Verge, 22 Oct. 2020,

Johnson, Sydney. “Academic Testing Looks Very Different in California
during Distance Learning.” EdSource, EdSource, 28 Oct. 2020,

Peiser, Jaclyn. “A Black Seventh-Grader Played with a Toy Gun during a
Virtual Class. His School Called the Police.” The Washington Post, WP
Company, 8 Sept. 2020,

“Projects.” Torrey Trust, Ph.D., 19 Oct. 2020, torreytrust.com/projects/.

Schwartz, Sarah. “As Teachers Livestream Classes, Privacy Issues
Arise.” Education
Week, 9 Sept. 2020,

*Sample School Camera Policy (courtesy of Lakeridge Middle School, Lake
Oswego, Oregon)*

At Lakeridge Middle School we want students to feel safe and meaningfully
engaged during distance learning. One of our school-wide classroom
expectations is that students are fully invested in their learning and in
the shared learning of their class. One helpful way to demonstrate this is
by keeping webcams on during class time. However, we also recognize that
this is not the only way students can actively engage and “webcams always
on” may impact some students’ internet bandwidth, may be a source of
self-consciousness or anxiety, or may not be appropriate or necessary for
other reasons based on the learning activity happening in class. As a best
practice, students and teachers will work together to develop agreements
and commitments regarding their classroom expectations including options
for actively engaging in classwork.
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