Non-Video Students Borrowing Video Class Equipment

HarrisRecently a topic of teacher discussion was centered on how various teachers dealt with the student or teacher who shows up at your classroom door and asks to borrow a camera or some other piece of equipment.

Opinions varied.

Some teachers saw this as an opportunity to possibly recruit a student to register for the course next term.  The assumption is if the student could be “hooked” with the possibilities the equipment could offer them as a means of communication, then the student would be inclined to learn more about the industry.  Many of the teachers with this viewpoint were quick to point out that the only equipment they allowed “out” was old or obsolete VHS-type gear.  They would not lend out anything which, if it were lost or damaged, would impact the class negatively.  They felt that the goodwill generated by the loan would maintain positive relationships with colleagues.

In a variation on this theme, some teachers offered a “crash course” in camera usage to students who wanted to borrow equipment.  There would also be a sign-out book but the downside of lending gear to students was the too-frequent need for the video teacher to have to personally track down the equipment to get it back from students which the teacher has absolutely no relationship with.

The suggestion was made that the school library have some inexpensive cameras that students could check out and thereby take the video production of broadcast journalism teacher out of the equation completely.

Personally, I never allowed video gear into the hands of anyone who was not a current student in my class.  The library had a few cameras to lend but in this day and age when nearly every student has a cell phone with video capability or actual access to mom and dad’s video camera, there really is no need for a student I don’t know to ever come ask me for a camera.  Even if students don’t have consumer gear themselves, they can usually find a friend who does.  Teachers rarely came to ask for a camera because my gear was not consumer gear.  It was more complicated and expensive and teachers didn’t want to be responsible for it.  Moreover, those who did ask, I always politely explained why I didn’t lend any equipment out to anyone who is not in my class.  What were my reasons?  What follows is rather blunt but the concept is quite clear and can be softened into however you wish to express yourself.

1. Would a biology teacher let your students borrow a microscope? 
2. The band director let you borrow a timpani? 
3. The computer teacher let you borrow a desktop computer? 
4. The driver’s education teacher let you borrow a car?
5. The geography teacher let you borrow their maps?
6. The health teacher let you borrow a skeleton?

How many more can you come up with?  Of course, these teachers would all say, “no” to you because these are the essential tools they use to teach their class.  Frankly, I can’t even imagine any teacher being so emboldened as to even make a request like the ones above but, for some reason, they have no problem asking you.  Perhaps they see you as an extension of the librarian.  If you engage in checking out equipment to the student body, then perhaps you are functioning like the librarian and shouldn’t be surprised when you get these requests.

It is important to note, however, that if you are teaching a CTE course and the equipment was purchased using CTE funds or Perkins Act monies, there very likely may be legal restrictions on the equipment being used for any non-CTE class or purpose.

That said, the student or the teacher who needs a camera can contract with one of my students and, for a fee, that student can do the shooting.  The CTE requirement is met because the student is functioning in a career education mode by being a videographer working for a client.  The student/teacher gets an excellent video image obtained by a trained operator so the finished production looks infinitely better than what would be obtained by an untrained “newbie.”  The equipment is properly cared for by my trained student so the likelihood of the equipment being returned on time in good condition is dramatically increased.  When the equipment is returned on time and working well, the negative impact to my classroom and instruction is non-existent.  My class receives some funds which can be put toward the support of my class.  Best of all, value esteem is ascribed to what my student is providing – a respectable service which fulfills a need.