Should students be forced to keep their cameras on during class? (Point)


Courtesy of Samwell Nachimson

Talya Pecullan, Contributing Writer

In many school districts, hybrid and remote learning models require students to keep their cameras on for the duration of class.  Although some students may object to this, keeping their cameras on leads to increased attentiveness, better student-teacher connections, and greater overall class engagement and participation.  When students’ cameras are off, they do not have any motivation to pay attention and can easily be distracted by their cell phones and other devices.  The teacher has limited knowledge of the students’ behavior at home to begin with, so keeping cameras on is definitely beneficial to the teacher.  Teachers truly want to give the best education possible to their students, so the small courtesy of students showing their faces makes a difference.  

“Having my camera on gives me an extra push to pay attention the entire time,” said junior Danielle Seidman.  

Requiring students to keep their cameras on prevents them from going on their phones during class, lying in bed, and doing other activities that may take away from their engagement in class.  Fewer distractions will then increase focus and may contribute to higher grades and increased productivity.

Helping students to pay attention is not the only benefit of keeping cameras on.  Many current high schoolers feel like they cannot make the same connections that they were able to make in previous years with their teachers.  This is especially true for students who are completely remote and, therefore, might never meet their teachers in person.  Forcing students to keep their cameras allows them to build better connections with their teachers while online.

“Having my camera on helps me form a connection with teachers that I wouldn’t have if my camera was off,” said junior Matthew Pierre-Louis.  

Teachers feel that they can better connect with their students when their cameras are on because they can see their students’ facial expressions and reactions.  This crucial information tells educators whether or not a student actually understands the topic, if the pace of the class is right, and if the student is enjoying the class.  Obviously, with masks in general, this is difficult, but keeping cameras on at home is the least we can do to better help the teachers.

“Students should have their cameras on to help make a connection and better learn who the students are.  I respect that kids should have the ability to turn their cameras off in some circumstances, but most of the time they should have theirs on,” said science teacher Mr. John Schineller.   

For both teachers and students, having cameras on aids in meaningful connections and improves the quality of the teaching.

In addition, many students have felt “lost” in their classes because it is hard for students to know when to speak up online, making it difficult to ask important questions.  It is hard for them to feel like a part of the class instead of like silent observers.  By keeping cameras on during class, students feel more present in their classes as they are surrounded by other students.  

“I think having my camera on also makes me feel more like an active participant in class rather than a mere onlooker watching a livestream,” said junior Meiling Laurence.  

Lastly, the school has issued Chromebooks to every student, making technology inequities and camera difficulties nearly nonexistent.  As a result, there is now no reason why the video function should not be utilized.

While there are many reasons as to why students should be required to keep their cameras on for class, there are some students that feel uncomfortable in their home environments and would prefer that their teachers and other students do not see their living situations.  For some students, this can cause anxiety.  Those students who do feel uncomfortable can talk to the administrators privately and decide the best course of action.  The benefits of having cameras on during class far outweigh the negatives and, throughout the school year, this rule will continue to help students get the most out of their classes.