Survey Finds Broad Acceptance for Video Recording in Schools

Bob Nilsson Director, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 18 Oct 2016

 70% say video cameras should be in the classroom

In today’s world cameras are everywhere in the public arena…..public schools should be no different! Not sure how one argues a right to privacy in public education? In North Carolina we have cameras in the halls and on school buses…why not the classroom? What better way to hold EVERYONE in public education accountable, especially instructors, parents, and students? Very few policies in the past 20 years within the state of North Carolina or any other state have raised student achievement in the US when compared with the top 40 countries…we’re currently 17th. Why not give it a try? – Respondent comment to Video Cameras in the Classroom survey

Faculty, IT staff, and students at schools and universities around the world now generally accept the idea of video cameras in the classroom and appreciate the benefits. We asked a cross-section of educators and students about their experiences and opinions related to video recording in schools and most of the  700 responses were much more accepting and encouraging than expected. Overall, 70% agree that cameras should be in the classroom.

How Are Video Recordings Used?

The goals of video recording in the classroom range from collaboration, lesson recording, and professional development to surveillance and protecting safety. Below is a ranking of the reasons given for video in the classroom with the percentage of respondents that agreed with each.

People have come to completely accept video capture on school grounds and in parking lots, as well as in hallways, cafeterias, and computer labs as shown in the graphic below. One respondent went as far as to suggest extending surveillance to the bathrooms, just not the stalls. The important phrase relating to where video can and cannot go is, where people have a “reasonable expectation of privacy”. According to District Administration, courts have generally held that school employees do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in classrooms, work rooms, break rooms or other areas that are readily accessible to other employees.

Another issue is that recordings of students may qualify as an educational record under FERPA. If so, the parents of the students involved are entitled to view the recordings and school administrators must protect the confidentiality of the recordings.


The largest concern about putting cameras in classrooms is the associated expense that could take away from other educational projects. These comments expressed additional qualms.

Classroom discussions should be a place to explore ideas. Cameras will prevent this natural process of an education. – IT at a mid-Atlantic university

Let teachers and students have some form of privacy. Putting cameras in classrooms develops schools into reality shows (and that’s not what we want). – K-12 teacher

Funds should be spent on direct Teacher-Student interaction. More technology just subtracts from that. – IT at a northeast college.

Having cameras in the classroom will be disruptive, especially to a student who loves acting up for the camera. The video could be used for other purposes: evaluation, law suits, etc. – K12 teacher

I don’t believe the pros outweigh the cons. If there is raised suspicion about safety in the classroom, then an administrator should sit in on the classroom. If a student misses a class, teachers or other classmates should be able to catch them up. – Student at a New England university

Being able to capture interactions that are happening live in class is the main benefit I care about. Frankly, I would rather not see this as a way to evaluate either professors or students. That just puts additional pressure on them, making them self-conscious and not quite themselves in class. – Curriculum director at for-profit school


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Direct Experiences With Video Recording

A high percentage of people involved in education have already been recorded on video as part of their jobs: 60% in higher education and 73% in K12. At present, the survey found that 60% of those in higher education have some video recording in classroom. In K-12 that number is lower at 27%.

The survey found that video recordings have been able to resolve disputes, exonerate a student who was accused of stealing, and enable students who had missed class due to illness to catch up.

I feel that having cameras in the classroom can be a great benefit for many students who might need to review or might have missed class but it is possible that many teachers would feel like the cameras were being used to evaluate them in their instruction. – K-12 teacher in West Virginia

I think, with careful and thoughtful planning and intention, cameras can be very useful in the classroom!

I believe, within budget, cameras in the classroom can be very efficient way to have students catch up on homework from being gone that day.

I found it to be valuable for me, as I “discovered” that I needed to make changes in my presentation to meet the needs of my students.

Cameras can be used to hold students accountable, too often students are not truthful with administrators and parents regarding their behaviors. Administrators and teachers together can review classroom behaviors to hold students accountable or to assist the teacher in handling behavior issues or identifying behaviors that need addressed.

Recommendations For Implementing Video Recording In The Classroom

Careful planning and communication are the first steps to installing video cameras in classrooms. Here are comments and suggestions contributed by survey participants.

The use of cameras in the classroom needs to have a clear policy from the administration that is fully supported by the staff and faculty. Everyone up front needs to know what the recordings can and will be used for, and students need to be informed about all of it in advance. A written policy protects all parties and lets everyone know what is expected of them. – Northeast college IT staff

Access, especially live access must be protected. It must only be accessible from the local network.

We dramatically increased the number of surveillance cameras two years ago. We cover outside perimeter, hallways, offices, gyms, cafeterias, high traffic areas, and any area where a lot of people congregate. We talked about putting cameras in the classroom, similar to higher ed. The union would not allow it as they saw it as another way for the administration to monitor everything they do. We also ran into legal questions. Where does one have an expectation of privacy in a school? Our lawyers thought that a teacher or student has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a classroom with a shut door. This meant that we would have to put signs on every classroom door. The third, and one of the most challenging, is FERPA. Our attorneys view video that includes students a part of their educational record and thus protected by FERPA. For example, any video that contains images of students must first get all students featured consent before being made publicly available. – IT midwest public school

Privacy is an issue, but benefits outweigh.

I think cameras would be an excellent resource for children with health issues and for lesson review.

This is a good safety tool in the use of the correct hands.

As long as the cameras are not hidden, and the recording / reviewing process is transparent I see no problem. The problem arises (as with all things) when it is taken out of a moderate, transparent, honest context and starts becoming a hidden camera for the private viewing of a select few.

Good idea, should have been done 40 years ago.

Cameras are everywhere and I feel that with the technology advances they are needed in the learning spaces for a variety of reasons that you have already covered. – IT at Purdue (also said by several others)

 As a 40+ year old male, I was victim of a reported assault that video footage showed didn’t happen. So I’m a supporter of cameras.

If I was a classroom teacher, I would find a video camera highly valuable in my professional development.

I think, with careful and thoughtful planning and intention, cameras can be very useful in the classroom!

Overall 70% of the respondents believe that video cameras should be in classrooms. Higher education is ahead of K-12 education in implementing video recording. Approximately 34% of colleges and universities have already implemented cameras in all classrooms; 83% believe video cameras should be in each classroom, but 22% do not yet have plans for implementing video in classrooms. Those numbers for K-12 are: 6% have implemented cameras in all classrooms; 63% believe video should be in classroom, but 56% do not yet have plans for implementing video in classrooms.

An important driver of video cameras in the classroom is the Texas law SB507, which can require cameras in special education classrooms. To learn more about the situation that led up to that, as well as other issues concerning video in the classroom, see Video Cameras Are Coming To The Classroom.

The following students at Umass Lowell helped with this survey: Lisa Yeaton, Eric Howe, Ronnie Zubi da Silva, and Herbert Cogliano.


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