Thursday, November 6, 2014

Smile! You're on Candid Camera at Harvard

You never know what the camera might reveal!
Seems as if hidden cameras were put into selected classrooms at Harvard for some research study - purpose unclear.

Now there is a fuss:

Vice Provost for Advances in Learning Peter K. Bol admitted at Tuesday’s meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to using cameras placed in classrooms to take photographs of attendance without telling the surveilled faculty and students.  Bol’s comments came in response to a question from Computer Science professor Harry R. Lewis ’68, who said he learned of the photographing—which took place during the spring 2014 semester—from two of his colleagues. The two unidentified colleagues, neither of whom are tenured, first learned about the surveillance when a senior Central Administration official called them in to discuss the results, Lewis said in his question. The students who were enrolled in these courses and photographed have not yet been told of the study. “Just because technology can be used to answer a question doesn’t mean that it should be,” Lewis said. “And if you watch people electronically and don’t tell them ahead of time, you should tell them afterwards.” Lewis ended his question by asking University President Drew G. Faust to promise that all students and faculty involved will be informed that the photographs were taken...

Prior to beginning the study, Bol said, he was given approval by Harvard’s Institutional Review Board, a federally mandated body that assesses academic research. According to Bol, members of that committee said that his work “did not constitute human subjects research,” and, as such, did not require notification or permission of those involved...

Full story at

"Did not constitute human subjects research"

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