It seems to be the trend that fewer and fewer students take notes in class. Lately, and particularly this semester, for some reason, I have been noticing that several students take pictures of the blackboards with their phones in lieu of taking notes.
While I'm not necessarily against this, if it helps them focus on class, I'm uncomfortable about being in a million pictures by these students. I'd like to speak up, but it's already a few weeks into the semester, and I don't want to make the students feel uncomfortable either. Is there anything that I can do to resolve this without creating discomfort on either side?
Perhaps you could make an announcement that just before erasing the board, you will pause for a moment to allow pictures to be taken, while you stand out of the way so as not to obstruct the shot. You can ask photographers to wait until that time, and to please compose their shots to exclude you if necessary.
Give them the lecture notes online. Then they have no reason to take pictures. Also scanned papers look better than messy pictures of blackboard and if you omit some proofs due to lack of time, they will still be on those notes.
I had a professor who actually made photos of the blackboard himself and he put them online after the class.
Although it requires some extra work it won't give the student a reason to make unwished photos, and all of them will have the same information.
Photographing the blackboard is counter-productive anyway; if all you want to do is learn by rote, it's fine I guess. But recreating the working by hand is a big part of understanding it. You could insist that your students do that, for this reason. An added bonus is that then they're not taking photos of you either.
If you would be OK with a purely technical solution, you could ask your department for some other means of display that removes you from the line of sight between your class and the display. I suggest a document camera with a separate (not attached) projector if at all possible. It has a similar workflow to a blackboard/whiteboard in that you can just write naturally while you lecture and you can invite students up to write easily. Even better, you can orient your writing surface so you are facing towards your students while you write, which makes it easier to speak clearly to them. There is also a nice side effect in that you have the written copy of all your work during the lecture at no extra effort. I had a professor who used this very effectively by making the written copy of the lecture notes available through the library, he would just number each page, put them all in a folder labeled with the course and day, and drop them off in the library, then students could check them out for an hour or two in order to review some point that they had missed in their personal notes.
The best solution that I found is using a tablet instead of writing on a white/blackboard. I bought a tablet with a "good stylus pen" and I always write notes on the tablet and share the pdf with students after my classes.
You can connect the tablet to the projector and everybody can see the content. Then you can use a software to write the notes and export it to pdf or image. It also makes it easy for you to browse among your notes. You can even write on your lecture slides.
However, don't forget that the stylus pen must be a good one. Get a tablet that comes with a stylus pen. The ones in the market are not really good for this purpose.
I see some answers about offering students better opportunities for shots, either at the end, or via pre-captured images. This only works to a point. Often what a student wants to capture is the intermediate steps... things that might be left out of the other notes.
If you are fortunate enough to have an interactive whiteboard, you can often get behind this by using the recording feature on the board. This can really help students capture the whole process in a way that snapshots often don't, and now the impulse to capture an image on a phone is even reduced even more.
Good, Ethical, Appropriate, Boundary Setting. You are there to share under a specific set of conditions.
Students have been taking photographs of blackboards for more than a hundred years. Take a minute to think on that. A student will do anything to pass a class if they need to.
1.)Let them take them at an appropriate time determined by you. 2.) Take them yourself and post them so they may see them. 3.) Take better pix than them at higher resolution, and you will never be in them as the example for them.
It looks to me that this is a topic in the "feeling good education" which, I believe is not education at all (more like sale of diplomas for big money and nothing to show for it), so I should not be commenting. But I do anyway.
First, many instructors/departments/universities do not permit phones or other electronic devices in the classroom. A student who comes to class to tap on his electronic device is not only disrespectful (why not wide open a newspaper and read it in front of your prof) but is rather disinterested in the subject as well. Second, students need to learn how to take notes, since that way they stay engaged, they learn to discriminate the important from less important and so on. Just because you can snap a photo, does not mean it is useful to you. Third, they are copying copyrighted material and that is a no-no, for mass consumption, such as youtube or like postings they end up at. Lastly classroom is not generally considered to be a public space, even at public universities (just consult numerous court cases) and therefore you do not have a freehand in taking photos of people without their permission. Finally, this is mostly caused by indecisive instructor. You are there to set the tone and establish the rules, not to worry about "hurt feelings" but to make sure you have classroom atmosphere conducive to learning and teaching effectively.