“I think a little bit more oversight could be a good thing, and I think that’s what [lecture capture technology] provides,” said Aron Goldman, an instructor at the Amherst College Center for Community Engagement in Massachusetts. “We’re going to do embarrassing things sometimes, but that just comes with the territory. … But when it comes to basic decorum, we really have to make sure we don’t say anything that we don’t want printed on the front page of the New York Times.”
Raymond Rose, an online education advocate who has worked with colleges and universities to create web-based learning programs, said the Cornell video could have gone viral even without a lecture capture system. Cell phone cameras, he said, are nearly ubiquitous among college students.
“It is a reminder that what you do in a classroom can and will be subject to capture, if not by a formal video capture, [then] by a computer or a cell phone,” Rose said. “You always have to assume that whatever you’re doing is going to be recorded somewhere. … You need to think about how you’re going to perform all the time.”
Oliver Renick, a Cornell junior majoring in materials science and engineering and executive editor of The Cornell Review, said the campus reaction to Talbert’s video “was one of shock and hilarity.”
“Given the petty reason why Talbert blew up … students thought the video was an absolute riot. It’s been a campus joke for an entire week,” Renick said, adding that he’s seen professors keep their cool even when tested by the most insolent students. “I’ve never seen a professor do anything like that, and I’ve certainly shared a classroom with rude students.”
Professors who know they’re being recorded, Renick said, should take note of political careers that have been hindered—or destroyed—by off-the-cuff remarks that became an internet sensation.
“They need to tread softly,” he said of educators whose lectures are recorded. “In a day and age where political correctness is often the demise of public figures, people in leadership roles have to take an extra degree of caution.”
Goldman said the occasional cringe-worthy lecture-hall faux pas shouldn’t discourage instructors from using lecture capture programs. Being able to broadcast ideas, theories, and video lectures across the web, Goldman said, is worth the risk of embarrassment.
“[Talbert’s] reaction was quite natural,” he said. “I’ve had that same feeling too, but I’ve never externalized that feeling quite like that. … It’s easy to get a big power trip going. He just got carried away.”
Like video lectures, eMail messages to and from professors are also subject to international scrutiny once they’ve been passed to enough in-boxes and posted on Twitter and Facebook.