Dude, where’s my camera?

My chin is still recovering from the gaping wound that was created by my jaw crashing to the floor the other day. You see, that’s when I met several teachers who had been given district/school iPad devices with its camera functionality disabled. Apparently, this is becoming a common practice. Here are my questions for the decision makers:

1. What are you afraid of?

2. Who are you protecting?

3. What message(s) does this send to your teachers and students?

4. Why do you want iPad devices in the hands of teachers and students in the first place?



  1. WHAT? The camera feature on the iPads is what truly makes the iPad a fantastic device for documenting learning. We use photos all day long in our K class. We take photos of their math patterns, their show and share, their structures at blocks and their dramatic play. I use the photos to document their learning in apps such as Pic Collage and Kid’s Journal.

    The districts who are disabling the camera function have definitely missed out on the power of documenting student learning.

    Too bad,

    Angie Harrison

  2. Just showed a teacher on Friday how to capture some of her students learning using the iPad camera because she didn’t have a “camera”.

    I guess that district could have saved a bunch of cash by purchasing original iPads instead.

  3. Hey,

    I have been known to disable the camera function every now and then depending on the situation (there are only so many duck face poses one can take πŸ˜‰ )

    I do turn it back on because I agree that it is an awesome tool. πŸ™‚


      1. Yes, this. My students and I are having some important conversations around photography at school and it is key that we have choice on this.

  4. Oh Royan these are excellent questions for the decision makers!! I think that by disabling the cameras these decision makers are trying to avoid a problem or bullying or something…but you know in Ontario (for instance) critical literacy is in the curriculum! Having explicit conversations with students about the device and its appropriate use is in the curriculum!! These conversations matter when done correctly and the uses of the camera in appropriate academic ways for the purpose of learning, collaborating and building are out of this world. I want to hear the answers to your questions and find out what the decision makers really think and know about the device in the first place. GRRR fires me up too!!!

    Thanks for the post.
    from weinspirefutures.com

  5. It’s hard to conceive a reason why people would choose to disable the camera in iPads. Surely there is no valid educational reason although stranger things have happened. How can students learning about appropriate use of technology, digital citizenship and contributing to an online world when schools continue to block content, limit device functionality or refuse to use tech tools.
    Education needs to be the driver of technology, not the IT department. I recently blogged about this. http://shanepilkie.com/2012/10/25/education-vs-the-it-department/
    We need teachers to stand up and advocate for technology to enable education.

  6. The decision of having the camera funtion disabled should be left to the discretion of the teacher. There are so many neat ideas and projects that can be done in the classroom using the camera on the ipad. I think it is terrible that some teacher’s won’t have that option.

  7. Teachers are in tremendous time crunches due to standardized testing. There is not a single minute to spend on anything other than the standards that will be tested. Students were not paying any attention to the lessons or work, they were just playing with Photobooth. These are high school Astronomy, Physics and Geometry students. They were face timing, with people outside the classroom, possibly sharing test questions and answers. I’m an IT and I reluctantly disabled the cameras. When the teacher needs the camera, we enable the cameras. Wish this wasn’t the case.

  8. If sharing a test question via an iPad is the issue, then the teacher doesn’t understand current literacy very well. Keeping questions under lock and key until the master reveals the question is kinda quaint but very inefficient for learning. Teachers need to structure questions so that the capabilities of a tablet, and other tools, are demonstrated as a apart of the exam – the way that proper footnote form was a part of exams in the past. Knowing how to use a card catalog in the library is no longer relevant; it is relevant to be able to incorporate live video into a literate presentation in almost any discipline.

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