Guidelines on the Use of Cameras during Online Synchronous Classes

1. Considerations

Online learning with the option of meeting synchronously can benefit from using video-conferencing platforms and tools, such as Google Meet and/or Zoom, in order to interact with student learners. The use of cameras during these sessions can facilitate the development of connection and community. However, the use of cameras during online synchronous classes or engagements may also come with several challenges and negative consequences for student learners.

For example, student learners may have unequal access to Internet connectivity or bandwidth needed to support the use of cameras. There may also be limitations in terms of computer hardware or equipment, such as desktop computers that do not come with built-in cameras. Student learners may also feel that cameras invade their privacy and may not want to show their surroundings to others. This is in line with the Data Privacy Act of 2012 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations as set forth by the National Privacy Commission (NPC) of the Philippines. Finally, constant use of cameras may be a source of fatigue and distraction for student learners, taking away from their overall learning experience.

Equality and fairness in situations where student learners “experience technical difficulties, limited Internet connectivity, device malfunctions, glitches on online platforms used for online learning, and other analogous circumstances” should be considered as further advised by the National Privacy Commission.

Online classes may be recorded for student learners who may have missed a particular class, subject to existing school policies on class attendance. The recording may be used by the school and teachers for training purposes, with student learners and/or parents and guardians informed beforehand.

Note that the above considerations and following recommendations contained herein should be read together with the requirements of existing child protection policies and anti-bullying policies, as necessary and appropriate.

2. Recommendations

For the above reasons and considerations, as well as to protect the Data Privacy rights of our Cordian student stakeholders and in response to the Public Advisory by the Department of Justice – Office of Cybercrime on 22nd September 2020 on the “Conduct of Online Classes using Video Conferencing Services”, the SHC Data Protection Office recommends that faculty who would like cameras to be turned on during their online synchronous classes with student learners take several steps, including but not limited to:

a. Ask or request that cameras be used, but do not require that they be used. Encourage instead that student learners turn their cameras on when it is their turn to speak, answer, report or present in class. Asking student learners to turn their cameras on when it is their turn to speak, answer, report or present is not a violation of the data privacy rights of students as data subjects. This is only to facilitate the learning process of each student learner and in order to pursue the school’s legitimate interests as an educational institution;

b. Set clear expectations for the use of cameras and synchronous session participation from the start of the course/program; and

c. Do not rely on cameras to determine participation or attendance. Instead, use active and engaging activities to do so.

3. Conduct during Online Synchronous Classes

The following recommendations may be provided and shared with student learners from the onset of classes in order to establish expectations particularly in the use of cameras:

a. Conduct during Online Synchronous Classes

Please strive to be your best self in this online learning environment: be respectful and patient with the teacher/instructor and your fellow classmates, just as you would in person. The Student Code of Conduct also applies even in the virtual learning environment. Students are expected and encouraged to enthusiastically and actively participate and engage in class activities and discussions during the online synchronous sessions. Students will interact with their teachers/instructors and classmates significantly, mainly through Google Meet, or in some cases, Zoom or Aralinks. Please sign into Google Meet, Zoom or relevant learning platform using your real first and last name. Students are encouraged to enable video unless their Internet speed/computer hardware does not support it. We encourage the use of virtual backgrounds whenever possible to avoid displaying private living spaces of teachers, students and/or other family members.

b. Audio

Please turn your microphones on mute when you are not speaking so as to reduce background noise. You may use a headset or headphones with a microphone whenever possible to enhance audio quality. Please try to connect in a quiet, distraction-free place as much as possible.

c. Chat

Please stay on topic. Use the chat box/comment section for questions and comments that are relevant to the class or topic at hand. Comments that are off-topic may make it difficult for the teacher/instructor to address students’ questions about the lesson. Disrespect or hate speech will not be tolerated. Similar to a face-to-face class, respectful behavior is expected of each student learner. Consider Google Meet or Zoom a professional workspace/learning environment, even when you are typing in the chat box.

d. Use of Lesson Materials

Students should not share the link to any recorded class session with anyone who is not currently enrolled in the course section. Unauthorized student recording of classroom activities is prohibited. Students who engage in unauthorized recording, unauthorized use of a recording, or unauthorized distribution of learning/instructional materials will be subject to the processes and procedures in the Student Handbook as well as pertinent Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policies.

Student learners may download the materials (EXCEPT exam questions, tests and quizzes) for non-commercial, personal or educational purposes only. Beyond this use, no material (including video, screenshots, files, and any other material) from the Google Classroom may be copied, reproduced, re-published, uploaded, posted, transmitted, or distributed in any means without the permission of the original copyright holder. Unauthorized use of classroom recordings or screen captures of virtual classrooms – including distributing or posting them – is also prohibited. Failure to comply will result in penalties as imposed by the Student Handbook and pertinent laws with respect to copyright and intellectual property rights.

References

  1. “Data Privacy and Online Learning: On the use of webcams and the recording of videos of online discussions”. Data Privacy Council Education Sector Advisory 2020-1 pg. 7. Accessed and retrieved on Jan 11, 2022 from https://www.privacy.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/DP-Council-Education-Sector-Advisory-No.-2020-1.pdf
  2. On the use of cameras. Privacy Commission’s updated online learning guidelines advise schools to enforce social media policy. Accessed on Jan 5, 2022 at https://www.privacy.gov.ph/2021/02/privacy-commissions-updated-online-learning-guidelines-advise-schools-to-enforce-social-media-policy/
  3. Guidelines for Student Camera Usage. Loyola University Chicago Office of Online Learning. Accessed on Jan 11, 2022 at https://www.luc.edu/ool/onlinecourseguidelines/guidelinesforstudentcamerausage/
  4. Public Advisory on the Conduct of Online Classes using Videoconferencing Services, 22nd Sept. 2020. Department of Justice, Office of Cybercrime. Retrieved on Sept 24, 2020 from https://cybercrime.doj.gov.ph/public-advisory-on-the-conduct-of-online-classes-using-video-conferencing-services/