Science

Missouri university is tracking new students' class attendance by making them download an app


Missouri university is tracking new students’ class attendance by making them download an app which accesses their location through their phone’s GPS

  • University of Missouri is requiring new students to download the app Spotter
  • It uses sensors and campus WiFi to track students entering and leaving class
  • However, the technology claims to not track students outside the classroom 
  • But many are weary because officials can see certain attendance patterns 

In-coming students at the University of Missouri are now required to download an app that measures and enforces class attendance by tracking their location

The app, called Spotter, uses a range of sensors and connects to campus WiFi, allowing officials to know when students are entering and leaving classrooms.

Although administrators claim the app has shown to improve grades, it does give them the ability to see attendance patterns for ‘students of color’ or ‘out of state students’ for retention purposes, The Kansas City Star reports.

Spotter, which launched in 2014, holds a special place at the University of Missouri (MU) basketball couch, as it was created by former basketball coach, Rick Carter.

In-coming students at the University of Missouri (pictured) are now required to download an app that measures and enforces class attendance by tracking their location

It collects data when a student crosses the threshold of a classroom- whether they are entering or exiting – using a range of short-range phone sensors and campus WiFi. 

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However, the technology is said to not have GPS capabilities, but is still able to gather thousands of location data points per student every day. 

MU is the only college in the Kansas City area that is employing the app, but it joins 30 other schools across the US.

However, not everyone believes this technology has the student’s best interest at heart.

It collects data when a student crosses the threshold of a classroom- whether they are entering or exiting ¿ using a range of short-range phone sensors and campus WiFi. However, the technology is said to not have GPS capabilities, but is still able to gather thousands of location data points per student every day

It collects data when a student crosses the threshold of a classroom- whether they are entering or exiting – using a range of short-range phone sensors and campus WiFi. However, the technology is said to not have GPS capabilities, but is still able to gather thousands of location data points per student every day

Indiana University assistant professor Kyle M. L. Jones told the Washington Post:  ‘These administrators have made a justification for surveilling a student population because it serves their interests, in terms of the scholarships that come out of their budget, the reputation of their programs, the statistics for the school.’

‘What’s to say that the institution doesn’t change their eye of surveillance and start focusing on minority populations, or anyone else.

‘[Students] should have all the rights, responsibilities and privileges that an adult has. So why do we treat them so differently?’

On Spotter’s website, Syracuse University professor Jeffrey Rubin says the app ‘provided immense benefit’ to his class and allowed him to reach out to students who were missing class. ‘Since using Spotter, attendance has gone way up in class, and students who were at risk, by not attending class, are able to turn their semester around.’

Although administrators claim the app helps students improve grades, it does give them the ability to see attendance patterns for 'students of color' or 'out of state students' for retention purposes (stock photo)

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Although administrators claim the app helps students improve grades, it does give them the ability to see attendance patterns for ‘students of color’ or ‘out of state students’ for retention purposes (stock photo)

However Carter has been upfront of the apps capabilities when he told the Post that administrators can see specific attendance patters for ‘students of color’ ‘or out of state students’.

Erin Rose Glass, digital scholarship librarian at the University of California-San Diego, said, according to the Post: ‘It embodies a very cynical view of education, that it’s something we need to enforce on students, almost against their will.’

We’re reinforcing this sense of powerlessness…when we could be asking harder questions, like: Why are we creating institutions where students don’t want to show up?’

 



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