https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/oct/11/us-students-digital-surveillance-schools?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

 

With the Covid-19 pandemic, our lives has changed a lot

One of the biggest changes is that students need to study online. But what is wrong with it?

According to an article from The Guardian, there are several issues regarding online learning.

Firstly, who is the main stakeholder in this scenario?

  • Students – they are a group of people that are most effected by schools’ decision of giving out laptops.
  • School – including teachers or human moderator as their job in this scenario is to spot issues students are dealing with ASAP.
  • Software company and developers

 

Social and Ethical issue

The Digital Divide and Equality of access

Not everyone has access to internet, digital devices that can be use for online learning. There are some kids who can’t afford a private digital devices, so they need help from school or the government.

So, schools in the US gave some laptops to students who need one in order to continue their learning. Their main goal was to close the gap in digital divide, which is good because every student should be able to learn.

 

Surveillance

The problem with school gave out devices to students is that these devices were installed with a software to monitor students.

The surveillance software monitors students’ chats, emails and documents. It allows teachers or human moderators to spot issues students are dealing with.

“If a students emails or chats with another students saying they’ve been thinking of hurting themselves or that there is trouble at home, an AI bot or a human moderator watching over the messages in real time can send an alert to a teacher or administrator, allowing the teacher to jump in within minutes and ask if everything is OK”

Is this method working well? There might not be an exact answer to that but according to the article, this is not the first time students are being watched. For example, schools have tried this with security cameras etc.

 

Privacy and anonymity

Kids feel unsafe when being monitor.

Privacy is a concern especially for kids who can’t afford a private digital devices and they need help from school or the government. They have no choice but to use devices from school.

“Surveys suggest students are mostly aware they are being monitored but are not fully cognizant of the extent”

Do you think students want others to know what they text their friends? Everyone might feel and think differently about this but I think students should have space to talk to their friends or someone they feel safe freely, so they can actually let their feelings out and hopefully feel better.

 

Applications to specific scenarios

Health

In this case, it is more to do with mental health.

It started as an education problem during pandemic as some students didn’t have a laptops, so schools decided to provide them some laptops. (with surveillance software installed) The surveillance software is to do with “health” as the article mentioned “why schools would jump on technology they think might prevent teen suicide, bullying, and the like”

Surveillance software could helps improve students’ mental health as there might be someone who can help them through their problems and concerns.

But at the same time, surveillance software also create more concerns in terms of how students’ thoughts might change about what text they send to their friends that can be seen by someone else.

 

IT System

Hardware – laptops

Software – surveillance software : software installed in laptops schools give out to students during pandemic. This software monitors students through chats, emails and documents and allows teachers or human moderators to spot issues students are dealing with.

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