• Officials believe that live-streaming classes on the Internet helps keep an eye on misbehaving students.

Officials believe that live-streaming classes on the Internet helps keep an eye on misbehaving students. (Photo : Getty Images)

Thousands of schools in China have installed webcams in their classrooms to catch students daydreaming during classes, an article by the New York Times reported.

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Aside from simply recording videos, some of the schools have taken to live-stream the videos on public websites as a means to encourage students from actively participating in class. Officials also believe that live-streaming classes on the Internet helps keep an eye on misbehaving students.

In addition, round-the-clock supervision from strangers is believed to boost the students’ self-esteem, so much so that some schools have made live-streaming a part of their teaching model.

“When you tell them, ‘It’s possible your parents might be behind your back watching,’ it’s like a sword hanging over their heads,” Zhao Weifeng, a director of a private school in Jiangsu Province, told the New York Times.

“Having surveillance makes children behave better,” Zhao added.

Despite the good intentions, however, some of the students subjected to the practice have voiced out their objection, claiming it as a violation of their right to privacy.

“I hate it,” shared 17-year-old Ding Yue, a senior at Yuzhou No. 1 High in Xuchang, Henan Province. “I feel like we are zoo animals.”

Experts have also added that live-streaming classes online will make the youth all the more sensitive to surveillance, especially since they live in the age of Internet censorship and outdoor security cameras.

“If classrooms are under surveillance at all times, instruction will definitely be influenced by outside factors and the opinions of whoever is watching,” Xiong Bingqi, vice president of the influential think thank 21st Century Education Research Institute, told the New York Times.

The Beijing News recently released an expose about the practice, prompting several schools to stop broadcasting videos of classes on the Internet.

Still, more schools are unnerved by the critical article and continue to live-stream videos online.

These broadcasts are quite popular, attracting hundreds of viewers in China’s wide selection of live-streaming platforms. The most popular is Shuidi, owned by Qihoo 360 Technology, a company that sells webcams and software.