Wired Campus: Skipping Class? Sensors Are Watching

This is an interesting article which I believe raises some good questions about what is needed for students to be successful in their educational pursuits, and perhaps the expectations and responsibilities of students versus the institution in which they attend. If the technology helps us to understand who is attending class and who isn’t, what is the next step?

April 27, 2010, 03:00 PM ET

Skipping Class? Sensors Are Watching

By Andrea Fuller

Students at Northern Arizona University who hope to skip large lecture courses may have more trouble doing so this fall: The university is installing an electronic system that measures student attendance.

The university is using $75,000 in federal stimulus money to install the system, which will detect the ID cards students are carrying as they enter large classrooms, The Arizona Republic reported on Tuesday. (The cards can be read by an electronic sensor.) Faculty members can choose to receive electronic attendance reports.

Karen Pugliesi, vice provost for academic affairs, says the project will help improve attendance, which is key to higher academic performance.

Research, she says, shows a real link between good attendance and student achievement. She says the system will improve student engagement and participation, putting more students on track to graduate.

“We want every one of our students that enrolls in a class to realize their potential and be successful in the completion of that course,” she says. “It’s not in the student’s interest for them to drop out of a course or to fail a course.”

Privacy Concerns

But many students are opposed to the new system, which they say invades their privacy. Rachel Brackett, a sophomore, started the Facebook group “NAU Against Proximity Cards,” which has over 1,300 members.

Full article available at http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Skipping-Class-Sensors-Are/23530/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en.

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