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RFID Checks Student Attendance in Arizona 554

Posted by kdawson
from the present-and-accounted-for dept.
The student newspaper at UW-Madison is running a piece about the use of RFID to check lecture attendance at Northern Arizona University. One poster to an email discussion list suggested that getting around this system would be simple if "all one has to do is walk into a classroom with 10 RFID-enabled cards in their pocket." "The new system will use sensors to detect students' university identification cards when they enter classrooms, according to NAU spokesperson Tom Bauer. The data will be recorded and available for professors to examine. ... [The spokesman] added the sensors, paid for by federal stimulus money, initially would only be installed in large freshmen and sophomore classes with more than 50 students. NAU Student Body President Kathleen Templin said most students seem to be against the new system. She added students have started Facebook groups and petitions against the sensor system. ... One of the most popular Facebook groups ... has more than 1,400 members." What are the odds that the use of tracking RFID will expand over time on that campus?
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RFID Checks Student Attendance in Arizona

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  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:42PM (#32089744) Journal

    Come on now. These are adults. If they choose to skip class because they feel their time is better spent elsewhere, that's their business. If they're wrong, they'll be punished at exam time. No attendance checks are necessary.

  • closed mentality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drDugan (219551) * on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:42PM (#32089746) Homepage

    This comes from a scarcity, closed-system mentality: log and track access. Mostly people who still think this way have not been shown better ways.

    They could have done it open: used the resources to video record the classes, and broadcast them on campus (They did this at Stanford when I was there). Students, if they find value in being in the classroom would go, otherwise they could watch the recorded version. Benefits for the students are time shifting, taking breaks as needed, and 1.5x speed playback are obvious examples. For the university, recordings create tools for distance learning, and open education initiatives. For everyone, building a more open approach builds goodwill, and can be used for dramatic marketing and PR advantage.

    The whole essence of education works better when the student originates the driving motivation to learn. Putting in place systems that force learning on someone (for example, tracking attendance) while may seem to improve results short term, actually reduce success long term for the person.

  • Why bother? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Em Emalb (452530) <(ememalb) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:42PM (#32089748) Homepage Journal

    At the college level...why bother? Seriously. These kids are paying for the privilege of being there, so if they want to sleep through or skip class, who is the school to say they shouldn't?

    They get paid either way.

  • Stimulus? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daemonenwind (178848) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:47PM (#32089808)

    How is ordering RFID-backed ID card blanks putting federal cash to work on "shovel-ready" projects?

    Let me guess....campus maintenance staff would've been fired over the summer if they didn't need to set up card readers at the door to a few classrooms? Does anybody believe this stuff anymore?

  • by godrik (1287354) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:47PM (#32089812)

    As someone that taught in a French university: "I don't f-ing care whether students come or not in my class". It is THEIR problem if they fail the exam and the mid term, not mine.

  • Exams in college? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:50PM (#32089852)

    Come on now. These are adults. If they don't learn anything because they feel their time is better spent elsewhere, that's their business. If they're wrong, they'll be punished in their careers. No exams are necessary.

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:51PM (#32089862) Homepage

    If they're wrong, they'll be punished at exam time.

    Or, they turn around and blame the professor (and the school) for failing to teach them. And ask for their money back. If the school can demonstrate, that they have not attended the classes, they can defend themselves.

  • by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:51PM (#32089866) Journal

    Sign up for my Facebook group, we're protesting this invasion of our privacy!!

    (good god, I hope at least some of the older slashdot denizens see the irony in it)

  • by spleen_blender (949762) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:52PM (#32089878)
    You get your degree for passing, not attendance. Their passing of students is not contingent on their attendance necessarily.
  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:53PM (#32089890)

    Who cares if the consumer does not show up to receive the service he paid for?

    While I'm not going to completely disagree with you, I think it's important to note that the notion that "the student is a customer" has some gotcha clauses.

    Namely, at public universities (which are very common and typically have the largest student populations), a very large (usually a majority) portion of the tuition for in-state students is being subsidized by the government. Even tuition for out-of-state students is subsidized, though usually at a much lower rate.

    In that regard, even though they're still paying something, suggesting that they are as a customer paying for the whole of their experience is misleading.

    Also, a school has to have SOME standards, as the degree that they issue signifies to others some meaning about that person. Without that degree stating that the person has met some level of standards, the value of the degree for everyone holding it is diminished. Now whether or not those standards should extend to attendance is debatable, but there's plenty of justification for the university dictating terms which persons pursuing a degree must meet.

  • by Jabrwock (985861) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:54PM (#32089896) Homepage

    And as a school, yes I have the responsibility to vouch that said student did actually come to the classes they claim they did when they show you that way overpriced framed piece of paper. Otherwise, I'm not better than some 2bit school selling degrees.

    Really? That degree says you attended all your classes? Or just that you performed all the practicals and written exams to the satisfaction of the dean?

    2bit schools selling degrees don't bother with exams.

  • by Animaether (411575) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:54PM (#32089902) Journal

    With many students being denied entry into a particular college/university/etc. because they are at their supposed maximum capacity.. I, for one, would think it entirely that college/university's business to say "If you're not going to attend, gtfo - we'd rather have somebody who does." as a deterrent to future students who plan on low/no attendance.

  • Re:Stimulus? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:55PM (#32089918) Homepage

    How is ordering RFID-backed ID card blanks putting federal cash to work on "shovel-ready" projects?

    Uh-oh... Do we see a growing resentment of "stimulus"? Perhaps, allowing the government to spend billions of our dollars is not, after all, a better idea, than to simply return it to us (the taxpayers)?

  • by OrwellianLurker (1739950) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:55PM (#32089922)
    I truly despise mandatory attendance. It forces students who don't want to be there to attend (remember the distracting assholes in K-12?). It punishes students who actually contribute when they are there, while others who do not contribute merely have to BE THERE. It is often used by professors who give boring lectures. As students, we should be allowed to manage our own time. I'm considering going into education (college level) and if I do, I will NEVER do this crap.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:55PM (#32089930)

    Yes, but we're talking about an American university here.

    American universities aren't exactly places of learning, like they are in Europe and elsewhere. They're more like businesses in many ways. Students pay them huge sums of money, and in return they expect a piece of paper saying they've got certain "qualifications".

    The actual learning part isn't really a priority for many students. They pay, they perform the minimum amount of work necessary, and expect to pass, even if they haven't actually learned the material or earned the qualifications that they seek. This is especially true for students who went through Bush's "No Child Left Behind" system, where failure is unheard of, even when students had absolutely no grasp of the material in question.

    When professors do fail these students, the end result is often legal action against the university. Claims of "discrimination" are thrown against the university and the professors, and regardless of the outcome, the university ends up dealing with some bad publicity and legal costs. So it makes sense why they'd try to cover their asses, and at least have something to show the courts to indicate that the students in question didn't even bother to try to learn the material.

  • by DarkKnightRadick (268025) <the_spoon.geo@yahoo.com> on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:59PM (#32089992) Homepage Journal

    And as a school, yes I have the responsibility to vouch that said student did actually come to the classes they claim they did when they show you that way overpriced framed piece of paper. Otherwise, I'm not better than some 2bit school selling degrees.

    Seems schools considering this need to look over their core competencies to make sure education is one of them.

  • by lambent (234167) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:59PM (#32089996)

    not really. it is often the case that students skip lecture, and then don't properly learn the material. they then either slow down the pace of the class during labs and recitation, or ask stupid question that they should already know the answer to in lecture, or waste the teacher's and ta's time by getting additional instruction on things they should already be aware of. this all then negatively affects the performance of students who actually try to attend and do all of their work properly.

    your conjecture would be correct, if the teaching staff would be willing to let these students fail. however, this often negatively reflects on the performance of the professor. thus, you have students that don't have the good grace to fail quietly, and teachers that have no option but to help them out. everyone suffers as a result.

    this is a growing problem in academia. go to any university (there is undoubtedly some form of post-secondary institution geographically close to where you are right now), and ask any of the instructors about this problem. they'll have a lot to say about the subject. so much so, in fact, that they probably wouldn't think to ask why some random person is asking them about class attendance out of the blue.

  • by DudeTheMath (522264) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:59PM (#32089998) Homepage

    My wife is a professor of English lit, and her reaction was the same: if your class is so large that you can't take attendance by hand in a few seconds, then it's too large for discussion, and if it's not a discussion class, who cares if you attend?

  • Silly Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:59PM (#32090004)

    I thought the point of post-secondary education was that attendance is optional, knowledge of course content is required, and verified by examination. Some of my profs were among the most brilliant people I've ever met. Sadly, a number of them had the personality and teaching skill of a venomous reptile. Forcing students into regular contact with them would have been regarded as a war crime in any civilized country on Earth.

  • by glwtta (532858) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:01PM (#32090048) Homepage
    Why not test "knowledge of subject matter" to check attendance?

    I know most undergrad students still act like children, but the whole point of university is that that's where you start treating them like adults.
  • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:04PM (#32090102)

    You know, I used to think that way when I was a student too.. then I worked at a college. at most state schools, the tuition does not even cover half the cost of class, the taxpayers are picking up the rest of the tab, because they are trying to make their communities better, by having educated people in them.

    So the whole argument of "They are paying for it, so who cares if they skip" kind of falls flat. Taxpayers are funding a large portion of that. If you aren't going to go, then just drop out already, and make room and resource dollars for someone else, who will actually show up.

  • by c++0xFF (1758032) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:06PM (#32090144)

    I learn a lot from lectures. Others people don't. Requiring attendance is one way of forcing students to conform to a learning style that may or may not work for them.

    Mandatory lectures, mandatory reading, mandatory practice problems, mandatory study groups.... By the time you get to college, you should already know how to learn.

  • by Alinabi (464689) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:07PM (#32090156)
    Yeah, but Arizona has been on a roll lately. I think they should make skipping class a felony next, and give the police the power to break into dorm rooms and bring students to class by force :-)
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fallen Kell (165468) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:08PM (#32090172)

    Also, a school has to have SOME standards, as the degree that they issue signifies to others some meaning about that person. Without that degree stating that the person has met some level of standards, the value of the degree for everyone holding it is diminished. Now whether or not those standards should extend to attendance is debatable, but there's plenty of justification for the university dictating terms which persons pursuing a degree must meet.

    That is what the tests, exams, and pojects are for.... The few exceptions I can see for this would be for things like "Public Speaking", or "Film History", "Directed Study in Voice", or other "performance" classes where being there is needed to actually do the work. For 101 level english lit, math/calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, etc., let them attend or not. The proof will be in the exams. I can tell you for a fact that I showed up to a total of 4 chemistry lectures and 2 biology lectures my Freshman year at college. My time was better spent elsewhere. I also received "A's" in both those subjects all Freshman year. You are now saying to yourself that I must have gone to a crappy college or something, but the reality was that I went to a VERY good High School and took all the AP level courses, I just didn't take the AP exam for college credit because the college I was going to would not accept AP credit for core classes, which as an engineering major, those were part of the core program, and were required to be taken at my college. Those classes were also a complete waste of my time.

  • Trouble is... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:16PM (#32090292)

    while may seem to improve results short term, actually reduce success long term for the person.

    Trouble is the school doesn't have to care about the long term effects on their students.

  • by heathen_01 (1191043) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:18PM (#32090308)
    A degree is a requirement for a (lot of) job(s). Attendance at uni is not. If you can get the degree without attending then why not? It would free you up to actually learn something...
  • by clifyt (11768) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [rettamkinos]> on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:21PM (#32090368) Homepage

    "In this case, I benefited from other people's attendance."

    In most cases, classes benefit through peer interaction / learning. In the cases I've seen, having a peer group that in involved will increase your knowledge about one letter grade over those that don't participate.

    I've been involved as both a student and an educator, and as a student, it was annoying that I was required to show up to class. It was only in grad school that I realized the value of attendance (that and I studied experiential learning as one of my main focuses). I decided to get away from my graduate degree and go for something completely different requiring ANOTHER undergrad degree, and it is funny...but just showing up to every damn class...I get almost all As...nothing different from my previous study methods.

    Beyond this, when I do instruct, I don't want students in my class if they are not going to participate. I don't want to waste 15 minutes to get class started and take attendance. Students are more than welcome to find another section if they don't like the rules...and my students -- on a common final -- generally do far better than the other sections taking the class.

    The students may be paying for SOME of the class, but the majority of their tuition comes from elsewhere. I have to deal with instructor evaluations and otherwise...I am evaluated and my position is ranked based on grades and withdraw rates -- we call them the DFW rates -- Ds Fs and Withdraws (and I am not penalized for students dropping in the first two weeks...so there is plenty of time for them to find something else if they don't like my policy).

    Students are adults, but they are paying us to teach them. If they don't want to take our teaching methods, they can go elsewhere. The teaching methods are designed to be the most scientific method of teaching possible with evidence that it works. Problem is, if educators don't care, and don't do anything other than heard the students into a room and do the same boring things they always did...the students won't benefit from this.

    BTW -- I took an undergrad course this spring (final was just last Thursday) and we were required to carry wifi response cards for in-class quizzes and polls. We got full participation points for the polls and 50% of the quiz just for showing up. There were enough points built in that one could miss about a quarter of the classes and STILL get full participation points (beyond that, extra credit if you were on the edge and the prof wanted to bump you). As a student, I felt cheated when I saw a few students never showing up and having a buddy press random buttons on the dozen cards they brought in...actually, I shouldn't care because they helped lower the curve for me...but still...reminded me of my first go around with college and made me realize how much of a slackass I was (which pissed me off more!)

  • by electrosoccertux (874415) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:23PM (#32090392)

    not really. it is often the case that students skip lecture, and then don't properly learn the material. they then either slow down the pace of the class during labs and recitation, or ask stupid question that they should already know the answer to in lecture, or waste the teacher's and ta's time by getting additional instruction on things they should already be aware of. this all then negatively affects the performance of students who actually try to attend and do all of their work properly.

    your conjecture would be correct, if the teaching staff would be willing to let these students fail. however, this often negatively reflects on the performance of the professor. thus, you have students that don't have the good grace to fail quietly, and teachers that have no option but to help them out. everyone suffers as a result.

    this is a growing problem in academia. go to any university (there is undoubtedly some form of post-secondary institution geographically close to where you are right now), and ask any of the instructors about this problem. they'll have a lot to say about the subject. so much so, in fact, that they probably wouldn't think to ask why some random person is asking them about class attendance out of the blue.

    Idk, if you go to a pro school and not a pushover then the professor and the TA are just like "uh, we already covered that extensively, if you need more info look in the notes". If you do that from the beginning the students figure it out. My friend TA'd OpAmp design and nobody showed up to his office ours AT ALL this semester. The side effect of that is the people that can't learn material by themselves get failed out. But in the long term, that's good for the school's reputation; it's just bad for its finances short term.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:26PM (#32090430) Homepage Journal

    I don't know what the fuss is about. That's being done in some universities in Portugal for some years now.

    This is one of my favorite arguments: What's such a big deal about asking people to show papers? North Korea's been doing it for years!

    I'm sorry, but just because something is done in Portugal does not mean a state university in Arizona should be doing it, too.

    When you get to university, an assumption must be made that you are responsible for your own time. If you can skip lectures and your work product and exam results show you have learned the material, so what? This isn't the third grade, and we don't need truant officers to make sure adults show up to class. The freshman at my institution are mostly 18 years old. That means they can vote, and they can risk their lives in our foreign wars. In my opinion, that makes them adults, and that gives them responsibility over their use of time.

  • by joaommp (685612) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:30PM (#32090476) Homepage Journal

    why the continuous necessity to subvert the system?

    The problem isn't in having the RFID system. It's the underlying reason that ended up requiring it. It's just a case of trying to fix mistakes with other mistakes. Basically, a poor class and semester planning by the teachers overloads the students so badly that they don't even have time to pee, let alone to themselves and to do homework. To aggravate the situation, a lot of students have to work to support not only themselves but their families. The day has only 24 hours and you need to sleep at least eight (which none of them do). Where do they get the time? From the classes, so they end up doing all the work in class time and attending only the final exams. Hence the class presence rate drops.

  • by Znork (31774) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:40PM (#32090616)

    Of course, the survey you cite has close to nothing to do with the GP's point, as it's fundamentally mostly concerned with citations in English language publications. Basically you could have mail-order degrees and still score well, as long as you had decent researchers (or the reputation, friends or money needed to get published anyway).

    As a measure of the quality of education it certainly lacks a level of scientific rigour and seems to lack relevance for that subject.

  • by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:41PM (#32090640) Homepage

    Actually, it generally shows you can cram. It's not the same as real learning. I've seen plenty of students who could ace an exam and still couldn't apply a thing they'd learned in a real situation (even in a lab).

    Real world situations mean having to actually use what your know, not simply rattle off facts back to someone. That's a skill you can learn (and should learn) in college, but most exams don't teach that at all.

  • by Davorama (11731) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:42PM (#32090652) Journal

    So, it's opt out rather than opt in but they could just keep their cards in aluminum foil and attend class every day too. If you get enough folks in on the joke someone might notice their attendance numbers were a bit off.

  • by chebucto (992517) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:53PM (#32090770) Homepage

    But you forget that the phrase 'support our troops' is weaselise in the first place.

    What, exactly, do you think that the phrase means? How, precisely, do you 'support the troops'?

    Do you support them in that you hope they will come back alive? Do you support them in re-integrating into civilian life after discharge? Do you support them by hoping they win their battles? Do you support them in hoping they succeed in their mission?

    Make no mistake, 'support our troops' means everything and nothing. Effectively, the phrase was coined to stifle debate, "banking on you and I not wanting to raise a fuss because no one wants to be seen as unsupportive of men and women risking their lives. (link [harperindex.ca])

    To quote a real Troop:

    http://www.uruknet.org.uk/?p=m26522&hd=0&size=1&l=e [uruknet.org.uk]

    Do you distinguish any difference between supporting the troops and supporting the war?

    I have to wonder since I hear that phrase a lot. What does it mean for one to "Support the Troops"? Do they have a list local kids who are serving in Iraq for whom they pray each Sunday Mass? Do they decorate their SUVs with magnetic yellow ribbons? It seems to be a phrase that opponents and advocates of this war alike feel obligated to mention as routinely as they breathe. In fact, for any one to say otherwise since September 11th, 2001 is a veritable anathema. It's a useful quote, whether to reiterate your position or cover your ass. Beyond that, I don't pay it much mind.

    I am aware that veterans returning from the Vietnam War were picketed, assaulted and stigmatized. I am grateful to have never experienced that, at least not on a scale with what they endured.

    I would like to relate a story to you, which I think illuminates my point.

    It was the spring of 2004. I had returned from my first tour several months before. I bought a 2-door Geo Metro hatchback with the money I had earned overseas. My girlfriend at the time was an outspoken critic of SUVs, so I figured she would approve. John Kerry's campaign was picking up steam. A good friend of mine who was working for his campaign in Iowa had sent me a "John Kerry for President" bumper sticker, which I proudly placed on the bumper of my car right above my "United States Marine Corps" sticker. I was driving through Westchester County (one of NY State's more affluent areas) and got caught up in a traffic jam. All of a sudden the car behind me, a huge black Escalade, pulled up beside me. The driver, a fat, red-faced man in his late thirties/early forties began to scream at me. "What the Fuck is the matter with you? Do you support the troops or don't you? Yeah, you're a fucking flip flopper!" It took me a moment to realize he was referring to my "politically confused" bumper stickers. The idea that a person could simultaneously support his military and the democratic challenger was evidently too nuanced for him. And off he went, his magnetic yellow ribbon gleaming in the sun. The irony of a fat forty-something who had ostensibly never served in the military, who drives a gas guzzling road monster berating an Iraq War veteran in his Geo Metro for not supporting the troops would be forever lost on him.

    I just can't describe what I am trying to say any better than that.

    Saying you support the troops is like saying you love Jesus. To insinuate anything to the contrary, even supporting an investigation of troop misconduct, is to open oneself to all points of vituperation. I realize this doesn't really answer your question. I just hear the phrase thrown around so much, abused and misrepresented for political purposes that I can no longer take it at face value.

  • by dissy (172727) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:59PM (#32090864)

    The freshman at my institution are mostly 18 years old. That means they can vote, and they can risk their lives in our foreign wars. In my opinion, that makes them adults, and that gives them responsibility over their use of time.

    Yet the opinion of the state is those same adults are not yet old enough adults to purchase alcohol.

    No, I don't disagree with you (Even that last bit about considering them adults)

    Just seems like something 'insightful' is hiding in the fact that everyone has different opinions of what adult means, I just can't find it.

    To some, it's being a minute over a certain age. To others, it's a level of maturity.
    In most all cases, those two things are not related ;}

  • by 517714 (762276) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:16PM (#32091060)

    As a freshman I went to my chemistry class six times - first day of class and 5 tests. I got the highest grade in the class of about 300 thanks to having a great teacher in high school (Thank you, Mr Saieed). If I had gone more I would have eventually picked up what the instructor was saying and certainly would have scored much lower. Under this system of monitoring attendance they would undoubtedly conclude that I must have cheated, rather than that the instructor was incompetent and I already knew the material.

    Unless the administration can provide compelling reasons why monitoring will benefit students, it should not be done. What is the state going to do when merchants or others start reading the RFIDs and using the information for their own nefarious purposes? Personally I would take it a challenge to screw with the University, clone the tags of mine and several dozen friends, put them in faraday cages and magically appear and disappear all over campus.

  • by chebucto (992517) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:18PM (#32091090) Homepage

    How, precisely, do you 'support the troops'? Do you support them in that you hope they will come back alive? Do you support them in re-integrating into civilian life after discharge? Do you support them by hoping they win their battles? Do you support them in hoping they succeed in their mission?

    Although different people would stress different items from your list, a straightforward person would list all of the above.

    So by your own words, a straighforward reading of 'support our troops' implies supporting the mission. And you're confused why someone would want to say 'support the troops without supporting the mission'?

    If you support the wars in Afghanistan & Iraq, say so. Don't use phrases that confuse concern for the welfare of solders & servicemen with approval of foreign wars.

  • by DM9290 (797337) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:33PM (#32091256) Journal

    As someone that taught in a French university: "I don't f-ing care whether students come or not in my class". It is THEIR problem if they fail the exam and the mid term, not mine.

    What I find entertaining is some students started a facebook page to protest their invasion of privacy. Isn't that IRONIC?

    No not really. They choose to publish some information on facebook, does not mean they want their university to track their location from moment to moment.

  • What's your point? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:37PM (#32091304)

    What point are you trying to make? There are only two American universities in the top 10, Harvard and Yale. Of the remaining eight, four of them are in the UK, one is in Japan, one is in France, and two are in Germany.

    There are only two more American universities in the next 20, the University of Chicago and MIT. Of those remaining eight, one is in Hong Kong, two are in Japan, two are in Australia, one more is in Germany, one is in Switzerland, and one is in Italy.

    So there are exactly 4 American universities in the top 20. That's pretty unremarkable, given the stature of the US.

  • by painandgreed (692585) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:50PM (#32091446)

    How, precisely, do you 'support the troops'?

    I don't yell "baby killer" and spit on them like my parent's generation did.

  • by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @06:04PM (#32091606)
    What the hell are you people looking at? I think somebody was vandalizing that wikipedia article to be funny. There are 13 US universities in top 20, 5 from UK, 1 each from Australia, Canada and Switzerland. (yes there are really 21 cause 20th place is shared by Edinburgh and Zurich)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @06:05PM (#32091618)
    Interesting as it might be more fitting now. Troops were protested in the Vietnam War, but many were drafted against their will. Troops today choose to enlist and fight in foreign wars, and thus, are more deserving of protest then those from the Vietnam War.
  • What! No Ecoles?!! Moscow State University? What's in here? University of Michigan!!!

    This is an Anglophone poll if ever I saw one.

  • by jeko (179919) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @07:32PM (#32092366)

    Certainly, not every student is going to make it.

    But if it takes an electronic leash to fill your classroom, you're doing it wrong. :-)

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @07:32PM (#32092370) Homepage Journal

    That's not irony.

    Its hypocrisy.

    It's neither. And thinking that it's either, or both, is stupidity.

  • by blueg3 (192743) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @08:24PM (#32092772)

    Real economics and politics dictate that you can't just discard complaints. From a management standpoint, you can only discard complaints if you think that every professor you hire is perfect without checking up on them -- and even the most optimistic, pro-university person will tell you that can't possibly be true. At every level, things can go wrong. People's scores can be entered incorrectly, TAs can be bad, professors can be bad, entire curricula can be bad. You depend on parents, the government, or some combination of them continuing to pay tuition, and if you just toss out complaints, that could stop.

    Of course, what you'd *love* to do is address every legitimate complaint (every professor I worked for truly wanted to remedy the troubles of anyone who wanted to learn but wasn't succeeding) and throw out every illegitimate complaint. Since the people one level higher can't tell the difference between the two, the ideal is to be able to justify throwing out a complaint with documented data -- a pattern of poor performance, low attendance, etc.

    In practice, we really took the stance you advocate -- tell people flat out that if they don't attend, they can't complain; tell them if they don't attend, they may be boned, and that's their own damn fault; tell them if they're failing, bring it up with your teachers or leave, but don't pretend a complaint will make you pass. But politics and documentation make that ever so slightly more complicated.

  • by Imrik (148191) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @09:50PM (#32093318) Homepage

    Or better, paint some foil the appropriate color and put it over the sensors.

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