Unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, are being used as educational tools after years of military use. Although the Federal Aviation Administration does not regulate drones under 55 pounds that are not used for commercial purposes, Ithaca College does not have its own drone policy.
Ari Kissiloff, assistant professor in the strategic communication department, said talks of a drone regulation policy began in July 2014. Terri Stewart, director of the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, is “cautious due to the recent banning of drones in select areas” but supports drone use for educational purposes. The issue of privacy is also of concern, as expressed by Kristine Slaght, the college’s risk manager.
With proper training, students can benefit from using drones in an educational setting. They would be able to use them for filming purposes and even archaeology classes, which the University of Massachusetts had to downsize because professors and students were not allowed to test or use the flight equipment.
The college should implement a drone policy that allows students to use drones for educational purposes and for student media to capture photos or videos. Students should go through proper drone training, including piloting lessons, knowing safety precautions and respecting privacy. The Ithacan has a training program in place that includes reading instruction manuals, watching training videos and learning how to fly and control the drone. As drones gain popularity in academic settings, a policy must be set for safe, responsible and effective use.