Careful, they’re watching you!

The Article

There was an interesting article in the September 27, 2004 Newsweek (p. 87), “The Connected Classroom,” about a growning trend of providing parents with easy online access to student assignments, assessments, grades, and live video of classrooms.

Parents’ Little Helper

The perspective author of the piece is that of a caring parent. I have to admit, that as a parent I would love what these services offer. This is a way for busy parents to get/keep involved in their child’s education. In the good old days, we needed to wait for a parent/teacher conference or a report card. It would be nice to have this information at our finger tips.

The Evil on the Other Side

Viewing your child’s assignments and grades is one thing. Who could complain about giving parents access to those items, but Video? How would you like to have a video camera in your office, cubicle, or so forth? I have to imagine that you would NOT want that. Of course, this is standard in many industries, banks, restaurants, hotels to name a few. I’m sure that these workers were no more thrilled than you would be, yet they were assured that they were just for security and wouldn’t influence them in their jobs. That probably reassured folks until viewing of those tapes became a standard managment practice.

In an ever more complicated classroom, I want to not only see how my child is doing, but also how the teacher is teaching. I’m sure that this will become standard practice in teachers’ performance reviews, I can’t imagine that such a powerful look into the classroom will not be utilized by school administrators.

A Company

WatchMeGrow is a company cited in the article that specializes in the installation, support, and hosting of these solutions. Check it out. It doesn’t seem like these solutions are anything more than a gimmick right now. The “streaming video” may stream, but it’s a capture rate of about 1 frame per second. The only thing that you can do is see that your child is in the room and even that is difficult if they’re on the other side of the room.

This isn’t to say that they technologies won’t get better in coming years. Higher bandwidth, better compression, and competition in the market will assure better products in coming years. I can’t imagine that higher capture rates and surely audio will creep into these products very shortly. Once parents (and admins) taste this power, they’ll want more.

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