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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.

    • 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.

      • by NFN_NLN (633283) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:52PM (#32089880)

        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?

        • 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 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.

      • by RichardJenkins (1362463) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:21PM (#32091126)

        "I don't f-ing care whether students come or not in my class"

        I think it would be a little distracting if they did.

    • by ZiakII (829432)
      Honestly though the only classes that ever had attendance requirements were the classes that you could use study for only one hour before the exam and pass the class without attending a single class. Therefore the teachers felt the need to impose such strict and silly attendance requirements.
      • by c++0xFF (1758032)

        Partial exception:

        I had a politics class where most of what I learned came from the class discussion. In this case, I benefited from other people's attendance. By having an attendance policy (enforced by "participation points" ... lame but effective), the teacher managed to improve the education for everybody.

        That said, I still think it's on the students' own heads if they don't come to class. They wouldn't be contributing to the discussion anyway -- good riddance.

        • 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?

        • Students who feel forced to go to class by a system like this aren't likely to participate anyway. I skipped classes sometimes in classes that weren't required, but there were a few lower level classes that attendance was required (at UW-Madison) and I typically just kind of kept my head down and read the Badger Herald or Daily Cardinal. Haha, so timely with the source TFA.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by socz (1057222)
          I had the exact opposite effect in my poly sci classes when I wish others wouldn't be there disrupting the class. Sure, we only had pagers and useless laptops at the time but they couldn't sit still, stop bothering others or stay quiet.


          One of the best teachers (in philosophy even!) didn't take roll until the end of the class, when a lot of kids would sneak in and say "here." At least THAT way they didn't bother anyone (being useless in group activities).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by clifyt (11768)

          "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 learnin

    • 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 characterZer0 (138196) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:59PM (#32090000)

        I support Barack Obama, but not his mission.

        Great. Then I support Osama bin Laden, but not his mission.

      • by blueg3 (192743) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:18PM (#32090324)

        When I taught as a TA, we tracked attendance by hand in TA'd sections. (Not using RFID technology, tracking attendance in lectures was pointless.) It's useful information to the instructor to know whether someone who is doing poorly (or doing well) has good attendance. We also often ran into students who liked to file complaints when they got a grade they didn't like. If you've tracked attendance and they have poor attendance, you can quickly show that their complain has no merit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by theJML (911853)

        Why do people have to jump to suing over something like this. It should be thrown out. If you didn't learn anything in the class and you complained while you were there and had valid claims showing that you were there, perhaps talked to the dean of the college about the professor's policies or whatever issues caused you not to be able to learn, then they'd probably look into it and reassign you or credit you. It's not lawsuit material, I don't care if it's a public school or not. I know when I went to colle

      • by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @07:28PM (#32092330) 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.

        IAACCP (I am a community college professor), teaching physics. Parent is sort of on the right track, although wrong about the specifics.

        Students at my school hate -- hate hate HATE!!! -- any course in which the grade in the course is based 100% on exams. Why do they hate it? Because it's unfair. Why is it unfair? Because their grades on exams are always unfair. Always. They deserved more partial credit. The exam problems weren't the same as the ones in the book. The exam had a problem on that one chapter that they didn't understand, and that wasn't fair, because they understood the other chapters. Also, the student's friend got a bad grade too, and that proves that the exam was unfair, because that shows that nobody could do it.

        As a professor, I do not have the option of doing something that is perceived as unfair, even if the perception is totally based on self-delusion and wishful thinking. It's not, as the parent suggests, that the students will sue. It's simply that they will choose not to enroll in my classes. Then all my sections will get canceled. Yeah, I have tenure, but my life is going to get pretty miserable if every class I teach is canceled every single semester.

        So what I have to do is cover my exams with a figleaf of other graded work. In my physics lecture/lab classes, 75% of their grade in lecture is based on exams. The other 25% doesn't really have any effect on their grades, but it's enough to convince them that their grade wasn't completely based on those horrible, unfair exams. I've always collected homework papers and written comments on them, but the psychological perception of fairness requires that these papers count for some tiny amount of credit (16% is what I'm doing these days). It's not satisfactory to the students just to get comments written on their paper so they have feedback; they feel that it must count for some pathetic number of points, or else the course is unfair. I've explored some of the other psychological parameters of what they perceive as fair. For example, I've tried (a) giving four equally weighted exams, and (b) giving two "practice" exams that didn't count much, plus a midterm and final that counted a lot. Option b was considered extremely unfair, so I had to switch back to a.

        So I have absolutely no option but to have something like 25% of their grade be based on something other than exams. As long as I'm doing that, what the heck does it matter whether or not I take attendance? My school requires me to take attendance, and drop students who don't attend. I don't have a problem with that. I just use homework to determine attendance, and anyone who's not turning in homework (or other written work) gets dropped. If they do the homework but get their friend to drop it off for them, I don't have a problem with that.

        What TFA seems to be describing is the kind of thing that happens in a particular sort of class at big state universities. This is the kind of class where there are 300, 400, or 500 students in a gigantic auditorium. State universities teach a bunch of their freshman classes this way because it saves them a ton of money. Students' perceptions of fairness and unfairness are determined by different criteria in this type of class. Everyone knows that lectures in this type of class are a complete waste of time. Everyone knows that this type of class represents an extremely poor quality of education. Given that the whole thing is a sham, it makes sense to do silly stuff like using RFID for attendance, because the whole thing is just a cynical exercise, so why not do the thing that minimizes costs? And students, of course, do not have the option of voting with their feet, because these 500-person classes exist by virtue of the fact that they're required courses, and freshmen have no other options.

    • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        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.

        Being bored to death in a classroom setting does not imply a good student. I fully support fair exams which weed out the people who are not learning, giving way to better students. If you already know your material / the class isn't challenging you, but you are still required to take the course in order to get your degree you have a duty of skipping and not wasting your valuable time.

        If you think you can skip and make the grade, and then it turns out you can't, it's your own fault for being irresponsible.

    • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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 fin

    • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      And in exchange for taking 10 guy's cards into the lecture with me, I'll be glad to use their on-campus meal points to feed the homeless.....

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alinabi (464689)
      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 :-)
    • by Atrox666 (957601)

      Well then no one would listen to the blathering old idiots they put out to pasture to teach undergrad courses. They would read it in the texts or get the lecture of the internet. Damn if only I could have fast forwarded some of my profs' lectures.

  • 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.

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

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

  • Why bother? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Em Emalb (452530)

    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.

  • Why? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by characterZer0 (138196)

    I could understand doing this for primary and secondary schools, but for a university?

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

    • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fallen Kell (165468)

        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

  • PROFIT! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bananatree3 (872975) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:44PM (#32089772)

    1) Lobby for this in your state

    2) Go back to college, target ones with huge classes and this RFID attendance checking system

    3) Advertise that, for a small fee, you'll gladly take people's cards with you to class. Once you get to class, take a nap

    ???

    Profit!

  • In my classes, they didn't care if you showed up or not, you already paid your tuition. If you fail out, thats your problem and your lost cash.

    I don't see why I would necessarily have to go to class if I knew the material. And I didn't always go to class when I knew what its about. Using VB to talk to Oracle? Boring. Anyways, I wasn't graded on my attendance, and neither should any university student. They talk about how its their job to prepare people for the working world, when its not. It's their job to

    • by Belial6 (794905)

      I don't see why I would necessarily have to go to class if I knew the material.

      It is necessary because the first 13 years of school in the US is based on showing up. Actually learning anything is secondary at best. The population has been trained for generations that attendance is what matters. Is it any surprise that this mentality seeps into what should be higher education?

  • security / isecurity (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This seems to be a completely opposite approach than on my school where one can unlock classrooms (that have not been blocked by priviledged cards) with ANY card from an unrelated issuer (of course with the same standard)

  • 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?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bing Tsher E (943915)

      Shovel-ready Death Panels?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mi (197448)

      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)?

  • 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."

    They obviously need body-scanners to detect this sort of foul play.

    I volunteer to watch the scanner to make sure no hot coeds try this.

    • by v1 (525388)

      full body scanners of course.

      all one has to do is walk into a classroom with 10 RFID-enabled cards in their pocket

      I was just thinking about that, it should be fairly easy to catch that sort of shenanigans. Just a matter of matching up timing on the cards to identify when the same two cards got to the same 7 classes at exactly the same time.

  • by alta (1263)

    all one has to do is walk into a classroom with 10 RFID-enabled cards in their pocket.

    Not so easy...

    Step 1. Threaten each student with expulsion if they try to defeat the system.
    Step 2. Install a turnstile to make sure people enter at the optimum rate (maybe not even necessary)
    Step 3. Set the scanner up to sound alarm and flash a light like it's walmart if it ever detects multiple cards at once. (thresholds adjustable)

    Problem solved.

    As a student, yes, I would hate that I would actually have to attend that class. Yes, I'm paying for it, so why shouldn't I come and go as I please.

    And as a sch

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You get your degree for passing, not attendance. Their passing of students is not contingent on their attendance necessarily.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jabrwock (985861)

      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.

    • 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.

      Why waste money on this fancy RFID tracking system, like tracking cattle? If you want to force the hungover frat guys into class, hit em' where it really hurts, the grade book...

      Test often and test hard, if they don't show up they won't pass. No "2bit school

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      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.

    • The university degree is a measure of competence not on attendance. You can still test out of many classes at an accredited university without needing to enroll at all. Moreover many classes can be taken online. Many professors most their material online and do nothing more than present the material in the textbook in class, so if a student doesn't feel it is a good use of time to go to class, they shouldn't have to go.

      These kinds of standards have set a precedent that does NOT include attendance. The u

    • 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

      No, actually, you don't have that responsibility. You have to ensure students that graduate have sufficient knowledge in the field of their studies, nothing more. This is what the final exam is for, and why it is worth so much of the grade.

      If someone learned everything they needed to PRIOR to going to university, but they couldn't get a degree without taking the courses, shouldn't they have the right to not go to class and write the final? (Not all schools allow you to simply pay to challenge the course).

      I

    • by celle (906675)

      "Otherwise, I'm not better than some 2bit school selling degrees."

      Well, actually, better or not, you are just a more expensive school selling degrees. So why the draconian shit again?

  • 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)

  • This system was already in place ten years ago at the school I went to, only it was a barcode on your ID and not an RFID chip. It was used to track attendance to chapel and linked to your cafeteria account (assuming you had one).
    • They tracked your attendance to chapel? Ouch. Did they suspend your cafeteria account for the day if you skipped?

      • by jockeys (753885)
        no. but if your attendance did not meet certain required levels, you would not receive any credit for the semester.
  • 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.
    • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kevinNCSU (1531307)

      I had a friend who believed the same thing. What he found out when he went into teaching was that the school required him to take attendance because many of the students had grants that required them to miss no more then two classes or else they would lose them and they'd be given to students willing to actually show up.

      Like it or not, Higher Education, at least in public universities and community colleges, is no longer a pay your own way and we don't care if you don't make it sort of deal. They are heav

  • 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.

  • just put a rfid tag clipped to their ear, like cattle.
  • 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.
  • I'm concerned about any university that uses classroom attendance as a means of estimating whether or not they're learning the presented material.

  • Due to tag collisions, a bag full of tags probably won't work. The rfid readers I've used require some time and space between tags to reset. You'd be able to stand there and scan one tag after another, but that would be a bit obvious.

    Less to the point, college attendance is something that sorts itself out come grade time. Why bother tracking it?

  • I would refuse to give my business to a school that attempted this, and if I were already attending a school that adopted this policy, I would refuse to carry anything with an RFID tag in it to any classes I attended.

    -jcr

  • How about all the students microwave their ID cards for 5 seconds destroying the RFID chip? When the attendance for every class reads 0 they will get the message.

  • I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the rather obvious problem of people being held accountable for the 100% accurate function of technology that is outside of their control, or possibly even feedback.

    Imagine being told at the end of term that you missed too many classes, when in fact you attended every one. All due to your RFID card being defective, broken, accidentally shielded, or other malfunction.

    Note that the article said "using sensors to detect students cards", which implies a passive scan, ra
  • No worries, I'm sure that with their new laws, they'll only use this technology on those pupils who don't look "white enough"
  • by RichMan (8097) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:12PM (#32090234)

    Wrap your card in tinfoil and keep it in your pocket and go to class.
    Then ask to see the attendance record immediately after class, before leaving the class. Because you are worried about the attendance being correctly recorded.
    You will not be on the list. Just pull out the card to prove it was on your person.

    System proven to fail. Go on record as protesting the failure of the attendance system to accurately record your presence.

    For bonus points:
    Then have everyone bug the system every time after every class to confirm their attendance, so they don't get deducted by the system for not being present.

  • by dcollins (135727) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:15PM (#32090274) Homepage

    Man, I hate taking attendance. As far as I'm concerned, attendance should have nothing to do with assessments in college. Moreover, it's a huge waste of time having to do this paper-shuffling stuff at the beginning of each class session.

    However, it's just about the ONE thing that the administration of the college I teach at is totally anal about. They require it, they have an awkward official form that must be filled with checks for every student for every class meeting (can't use my own design, or a spreadsheet, or an online summary), it's the one thing they have a big boldface BY SIGNING HERE YOU VERIFY YOU HAVE CHECKED ATTENDANCE RECORDS FOR ACCURACY.

    Why? Because it's how they document financial aid. Most of the students attending are on some form of government financial aid, and if they potentially withdraw or don't show up, the college can point to this roster and say, "See? Student attended class. Pay up, state agency." I'm wasting hours of time every semester with this CYA bullshit -- but to the administration, getting paid trumps all else.

    I also recently spearheaded an insurgency against an attempt to make attendance a passing requirement in my department's remedial courses. Fortunately (largely because the department chair is a fellow union member and thus responsive -- administration trying to remove that asap), that one did get knocked down.

  • by Cerlyn (202990) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @04:17PM (#32090306)

    If you have any student loans, universities in the United States are required to report your last date of attendance, if you are attending at least half time or not, and other information to the National Student Loan Data System [ed.gov]. This may be an automated way that they are trying to get information for this.

    While I imagine universities are not going to rush to using the last date you showed up in class versus the current date for refund and grading (withdrawal with no grade versus withdrawal-failing/withdrawal-pass, etc.), I could easily see universities using this data in the event of a grade dispute or similar issue.

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