NYU administrators spying online
Administrators at New York University have been using a course-management website to spy faculty and students.
Faculty members at New York University are accusing administrators of surreptitiously listing deans and directors of undergraduate studies as instructors on course-management sites, allowing those administrators to monitor course discussions and other activity.
Although the administrators' names were quickly removed after they were discovered, the incident has exacerbated an already fractious environment at the university, where a strike by graduate students has divided professors and administrators. Many faculty members who support the graduate students have refused to cross picket lines and are holding classes off the campus. Some of them accuse administrators of infiltrating the course-management sites specifically to monitor strike-related discussions. [Chronicle Higher Education]
The Chronicle article doesn't specify how many accounts were doctored, or exactly when the administrators' names may have been added.
This story should serve as a warning to students and faculty everywhere. Online course-management tools are becoming increasingly popular. It probably won't be long before universities start pressuring companies like Blackboard to build in less-obvious ways of monitoring teaching.
So, when the NYU grad students get their new contract, I hope it includes a clause that forbids all covert monitoring of instruction. That in itself would be a victory for academic freedom.