Under pressure to prove the value of sky-high tuition fees, many colleges are getting tough on classroom attendance. The Wall Street Journal recently reportedon a series of new measures colleges are trying, including tagging students electronically, secret filming of lecture halls, and—the most draconian of all—rules requiring attendance.
Now researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology have another idea to keep students in line: an app that replaces the dull process of roll-calling. It could make attendance-tracking easier and free up more time for learning.
Here’s how it would work. Using facial recognition software called EngageSense, computers would apply algorithms to what the cameras have recorded during a lecture or discussion to interpret how engaged the students have been. Were the kids’ eyes focused on the teacher? Or were they looking everywhere but the front of the class? Were they smiling or frowning? Or did they just seem confused? Or bored?
Teachers would be provided a report that, based on facial analysis, would tell them when student interest was highest or lowest. Says SensorStar co-founder Sean Montgomery, himself a former teacher: “By looking at maybe just a couple of high points and a couple of low points, you get enough takeaway. The next day you can try to do more of the good stuff and less of the less-good stuff.”
Biometric Signature ID’s biometric identification software BioSIg-ID is now being used by over 50,000 students at Central Texas College in Killeen, Texas, the company has revealed.
The security software authenticates students prior to logging in to the school’s learning management system (LMS). The tech ensures that students login with a hand-drawn password that cannot be duplicated by anyone else.
Oral Roberts University launched a program this year requiring incoming freshmen to purchase the Fitbit HR to track and forward wellness data to the school for a grade––but just how much of their activity will professors be able to see?
Back in 2011, there was a minor kerfuffle when people realized that their records of calories burned during sex were showing up on users’ public profiles and therefore in Google search results. At the time, the company offered “sexual activity” as a fitness category, and allowed users to log its exercise value on a scale ranging from “passive, light effort” to “active and vigorous.”
Fitbit since changed its default privacy settings and dropped the category from the app. But is it still possible to tell when someone is having sex based on their fitness tracker data?
Given that Oral Roberts, a religious university, forbids premarital sex in its honor code, this seemed like a particularly pertinent question for its students.
DENVER (Reuters) – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured more than $4 billion into efforts to transform public education in the U.S., is pushing to develop an “engagement pedometer.” Biometric devices wrapped around the wrists of students would identify which classroom moments excite and interest them — and which fall flat.
The foundation has given $1.4 million in grants to several university researchers to begin testing the devices in middle-school classrooms this fall.
The biometric bracelets, produced by a Massachusetts startup company, Affectiva Inc, send a small current across the skin and then measure subtle changes in electrical charges as the sympathetic nervous system responds to stimuli. The wireless devices have been used in pilot tests to gauge consumers’ emotional response to advertising.
Gates officials hope the devices, known as Q Sensors, can become a common classroom tool, enabling teachers to see, in real time, which kids are tuned in and which are zoned out.
Existing measures of student engagement, such as videotaping classes for expert review or simply asking kids what they liked in a lesson, “only get us so far,” said Debbie Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Gates Foundation. To truly improve teaching and learning, she said, “we need universal, valid, reliable and practical instruments” such as the biosensors.
A relatively tiny donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has created quite a stir over the past several days. News broke that Clemson U. had late last year obtained a nearly half million dollar grant from the foundation to conduct a pilot study with Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) bracelets, wireless sensors that track physiological reactions, in schools. The idea supposedly was that children would wear these biometric bracelets in classrooms to measure their engagement. What made this grant even more polarizing was the notion that the bracelets were in fact tools that would evaluate teachers’ effectiveness.
Then came the discovery of another grant, this one for $621,265, awarded to the National Center on Time & Learning Inc. to “measure engagement physiologically with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Galvanic Skin Response,” also to be used to gauge degrees or levels of engagement.”