Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Password protected "lecture-capture" videos are vulnerable to public release and distortion

It's become commonplace these days for teachers to videotape classes and then make the material available to students via a password protected site so that they can later review it at their leisure.  But how about when "what happens in the classroom doesn't stay in the classroom?" (Or, for that matter, on the password protected site). Streamed video, like most lecture-capture arrangements, can be "ripped" without the teacher's consent and then distributed via YouTube and other social networking sites. This raises some serious issues about student privacy, the sanctity of the classroom and the teacher's ability to control distribution of her (presumably) copyrightable class materials.

Here's an even scarier scenario. Some U. Missouri faculty members had their password protected class lectures ripped, altered and then distributed by Andrew Breitbart, the same nutjob who went after Acorn and Shirley Sherrod.  It's led to some serious heat for U. Mizzou. The Chronicle of Higher Ed explains:

The University of Missouri system has been besieged with angry letters and phone calls, and top officials at its St. Louis campus have asked an adjunct faculty member to resign, as a result of the conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart's posting videos this week that appear to show two labor-studies instructors advocating union violence.

A contributor to Mr. Breitbart's Web site produced the two videos, which run roughly seven minutes each, from about 30 hours of lecture footage taped as part of a distance-education course and uploaded onto the university's Blackboard course-management system.

Because the footage includes depictions of students in the classroom and was supposed to be accessible only to faculty members, students enrolled in the course, and university technical-support personnel, its wide-scale online distribution has raised concerns about students' privacy rights and the unauthorized use of online course footage to put colleges' faculty members under political pressure.

 . . . .

Gail Hackett, provost of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, issued a statement denouncing how the videos are presented on Mr. Breitbart's Web site, based on the campus's continuing review of the raw classroom footage used to make them.

"From the review completed to date," her statement said, "it is clear that edited videos posted on the Internet depict statements from the instructors in an inaccurate and distorted manner by taking their statements out of context and reordering the sequence in which those statements were actually made so as to change their meaning. Such selective editing is disturbing, and the release of students' images without their permission is a violation of their privacy rights."

You can read the remainder of the story here.


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