Maybe you missed it, but it has been big news in the Boston area: classes were secretly photographed in spring 2014 as part of a Harvard University research project about classroom attendance. About 2,000 students in 10 lecture halls were included in the photos, although the images were destroyed after they were scanned by a computer program that counted the number of full and empty seats.
Harvard’s Institutional Review Board had classified the study as not involving research on human subjects–perhaps because it focused on classroom teaching (given special exemption in federal regulations) and did not retain images of individuals–but that didn’t stop an outcry from many students and faculty after the study was revealed in a conference presentation.
Was this an invasion of privacy? Should the instructors and students have been informed in advance? Would the results have differed if there had been disclosure in advance? What policy would you recommend? What do classmates think? You can read more about the study at the Boston Globe website, http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/11/05/harvard-secretly-photographed-students-study-class-attendance-raising-privacy-concerns/hC8TBdGdZmQehg0lAhnnJN/story.html.