3 mins reading and ?? mins viewing
Eduveillance. I don’t know if it’s technically a word, but I like it. The term has a ‘breadth’ to it, suggesting it covers a range of phenomena – and it needs to. Eduveillance is a vast, complex subject, and I thought I’d use this post to touch briefly on a few examples…
The above photograph shows a sign I walk past each and every time I venture onto the campus where I work. I’m sure the number of times I notice the sign’s existence has diminished since I first noticed it, but in terms of the intersection of education and surveillance, this small, widely-accepted security measure is only the tip of the iceberg.
Surveillance has always been an intrinsic aspect of education. Emmeline Taylor makes this point clear at the beginning of her quite pessimistic study Surveillance Schools: Security, Discipline and Control in Contemporary Education. She writes:
[S]chools have always had surveillance at their core; registration confirms attendance, student reports compound activity, continual examination and assessment monitors progress, the containment of pupils on a bounded campus enables close observation of behaviour, and the contravention of rules attracts swift and often visible punishment. Schools as sites of surveillance are nothing new. Indeed many school architects embed the need for surveillance in their designs. However, a raft of new surveillance technologies and practices have created educational institutions in which pupils are merging as the most heavily surveilled population in countries such as the United Kingdom and United States. (2013, p. 3)
Unsurprisingly, the surveilling of students’ social media accounts is a provocative case in point.
Negative perspectives on surveillance are not difficult to find. Take, for example, the 2017 piece, ‘The Living Laboratory: How the University Watches Your Every Move‘. This article surveys the surveillance landscape in some of Australia’s Higher Education institutions, which utilise technologies ranging from CCTV footage to wi-fi tracking to facial recognition.
On the one hand, surveillance strategies might impinge on student privacy and impose external and internal limits on the agency that is so crucial to personal and professional development. On the other hand, there is growing evidence to suggest that many of the ways in which surveillance practices and processes have been embedded into schools and universities have resulted in heightened efficiency, effectiveness, and numerous positive outcomes for student engagement and learning.
The video below includes a conversation I recorded in 2016 with Danielle Teychenne, an Interactive Learning Developer at Deakin University. This wide-ranging conversation touches on the use of Learning Management Systems in kindergartens; Google Classroom in primary and high schools, and TurnItIn in universities, among other things. We reflect on the naturalisation of surveillance, and it’s significant that I think we’d both agree some of the things we were talking about in this video are now much less ‘innovative’ or ‘surprising’ to us just a few short years later…
This video is also available as a podcast here.
Thanks for visiting! I promise I’m not keeping track of your comments in a creepy kind of way, but I’d love to hear what you think about the various forms of eduveillance that impact contemporary learning and teaching? 🙂
Taylor, E 2013, Surveillance Schools: Security, Discipline and Control in Contemporary Education, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills.