“Graduates will be well prepared … to embrace 24/7 government tracking and social credit systems.”
An app created to track the attendance of ‘less academically inclined’ college athletes is under fire, after over 40 schools have begun using the technology to monitor students campus-wide, according to the Washington Post.
Developed by former college basketball coach Rick Carter (who is currently under a restraining order by DePaul University for allegedly threatening the athletic director and head basketball coach), the Chicago-based SpotterEDU app uses Bluetooth beacons to ping a student’s smartphone once they enter a lecture hall. About the size of a deck of cards, they are installed in covert locations on walls and ceilings.
Syracuse University IT instructor Jeff Rubin uses the app to encourage his students to attend lectures – awarding “attendance points” to those who show up. Rubin is also notified when students skip classes.
“They want those points,” said Rubin. “They know I’m watching and acting on it. So, behaviorally, they change.“
According to Rubin, his 340-student lecture has never been so full at around 90% attendance.
Double Secret Dystopia
Understandably, not everyone is thrilled with the intrusive new technology, which many argue breaches students’ privacy rights on a massive scale.
“We’re adults. Do we really need to be tracked?” said sophomore Robby Pfeifer, a student at Commonwealth University in Richmond, which recently began using the campus’ WiFi network to track students. “Why is this necessary? How does this benefit us? … And is it just going to keep progressing until we’re micromanaged every second of the day?“
School and company officials, on the other hand, argue that monitoring students is a powerful motivator and will encourage students to adopt habits geared towards success.
“If they know more about where students are going, they argue, they can intervene before problems arise,” according to the Post.
That said, some schools have taken things further – assigning “risk scores” to students based on factors such as whether they are going to the library enough.
The dream of some administrators is a university where every student is a model student, adhering to disciplined patterns of behavior that are intimately quantified, surveilled and analyzed.
But some educators say this move toward heightened educational vigilance threatens to undermine students’ independence and prevents them from pursuing interests beyond the classroom because they feel they might be watched.
“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,” said Kyle M. L. Jones, an Indiana University assistant professor who researches student privacy.
“What’s to say that the institution doesn’t change their eye of surveillance and start focusing on minority populations, or anyone else?” he added. Students “should have all the rights, responsibilities and privileges that an adult has. So why do we treat them so differently?” –Washington Post
“It embodies a very cynical view of education — that it’s something we need to enforce on students, almost against their will,” said UCSD digital scholarship librarian Erin Rose Glass. “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?“
Hilariously, creators of the dystopian surveillance app have tried to make things ‘more fun,’ by ‘gamifying students’ schedules with colorful Bitmoji or digital multiday streaks.’
Read the rest of the report here.