A security camera mounted on a ceiling.Trustees of the Dallas Independent School District recently voted to require video cameras in all special-education classrooms, the Dallas Morning News reports. Advocates say the cameras will help keep students safe and ease parent anxiety, while critics says it is costly and could violate student and teacher privacy.

In the Spring 2011 issue of Education Next, under the headline “Lights, Camera, Action! Using video recordings to evaluate teachers,” Michael Petrilli wrote that “it feels like just a matter of time” until cameras in classrooms become common. “Effective teachers will have little to fear,” Petrilli wrote. The article quoted Harvard professor Thomas Kane, who said that there “are a number of huge advantages to video” when it comes to teacher evaluation. Not only do videos provide school districts with concrete examples to discuss with teachers, they also reduce costs by eliminating the need for in-person observers.

There are also potential research uses for classroom recordings. In the Winter 2018 issue of Education Next, under the headline “Big Data Transforms Education Research,” Petrilli reported that a team of professors are already capturing audio and analyzing the files to assess the effectiveness of teaching methods. “The power duo of big data and machine learning will enable us to build a research enterprise that actually improves classroom instruction,” Petrilli wrote.

—Education Next

Last updated March 10, 2020