Surveillance in the Virtual Classroom

Surveillance in the Virtual Classroom

Morgan Luck (Charles Sturt University, Australia & The Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0011-9.ch808
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In this chapter the author highlights some of the risks associated with universities establishing surveillance tools within virtual learning environments. Potential problems that may arise from such a move are considered at the student and managerial levels. At the student level the author argues that the adoption of the surveillance tool may result in students, especially the most gifted, feeling pressured to adopt practises that are not best suited to achieving their learning outcomes. At the managerial level the author argues that the surveillance tool provides a means by which subject design could be further influenced by market forces.
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Virtual classrooms have many advantages over traditional classrooms. One notable improvement is that they are able to quickly and clearly generate a record of learning activities. For example, forums and chat rooms can preserve the explanations, instructions and conversations of both students and teachers. Resource folders can maintain a log of materials both uploaded and downloaded. Website traffic can be monitored, and automated online assessment systems can track the progress of individuals and groups. Such technologies provide students, lecturers and educational institutes with an unprecedented level of information regarding the process of learning. Whilst the existence of such data may have numerous benefits, in this chapter I wish to explore some possible detriments. In particular, how such information provides the grounds for a degree of surveillance never before experienced within the classroom.

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