Can we insist students have video on?


It is quite disconcerting having 24 students online using Google Meet (or Zoom) and half the students (at least) have their video off. This makes interaction and engagement quite challenging. Unless there are good reasons I also consider it rude. I asked the Privacy Commissioner if teachers could insist on students having their videos on unless explicit permission was granted to have it off (some students have poor wifi for example). Their answer is detailed below including a suggestion that we should do a Privacy Impact Assessment.

Surely the Ministry can do this for all schools and issue some guidelines? (albeit that timeframe did not allow this luxury – it could possibly be done at some stage in the next couple of months?)

“I understand you would like some guidance as to whether making it mandatory for student’s to use the video function of Google Meet during live time class, raises any issues under the Privacy Act.

It would not be possible for us to provide you with a definitive answer to that question as we do not provide legal advice, just general information about where the Privacy Act may or may not apply.

Typically, schools are entitled to put in place rules and regulations about how students engage in the classroom. However, as a general rule, before rolling out a new piece of technology that may have privacy implications, schools should complete a Privacy Impact Assessment (“PIA”). While Wellington East Girl’s College may not collect information about its students through Google Meet, it’s also important for the School to understand how Google Meet may collect, use or store its student’s information.

The collection principles (principles 1-4 of the Privacy Act) may be helpful when considering whether making it mandatory for students to use the video function of Google Meet. Other principles may also be relevant in this case and I have attached a link to them here. I have also attached our Privacy in Schools guidance here, which may be helpful.”

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