In mid-March, Apple released Classroom 2.0, a program that allows teachers to monitor students’ iPads in a classroom. Although the software has many functions, the most controversial allows teachers to see the screens of every student in the class. If used, the application would violate students’ privacy and contribute to a negative learning environment overall.
Private or not, a school should still abide by the basic rights enshrined in the Constitution, including those relating to privacy. Even if there is no legal binding requiring them to do so, schools should strive to preserve the ideals of our society. By telling students that privacy is a fundamental right of human beings and then denying it to them, schools send a contradictory message that suggests some rights are not universally guaranteed.
Device monitoring shifts the focus of the class away from learning and productivity and creates an environment of surveillance. Students become more concerned with not getting caught than with focusing on class material.
The common argument in support of monitoring iPads is a legal one — we all signed a contract, so the school can ignore privacy rights that apply elsewhere. However, what one is allowed to do and what one should do are not the same.
Schools should aim to develop students into people who can operate in the real world. Rather than forcing students to give up privacy, we should encourage honesty and accountability — traits that would benefit them in the workplace, where every action will not be monitored. Maintaining privacy is larger than simply a legal contract; it sends a positive message to students that rights are indeed universal.