Tracking College Students Everywhere They Go On Campus Is The New Normal

from the normalizing-lots-of-stuff...-including-the-weirdos dept

The latest benefit of an education at an institute of higher learning? Becoming inured to round-the-clock surveillance.

A few months ago, the University of Alabama started penalizing students for leaving home games too early. Coach Nick Saban was apparently angered by students' refusal to stick around to the end of blowouts. Working with FanMaker, the university instituted a point system that rewarded faithful fans for sitting through entire games by awarding them points that placed them closer to the top of the list for tickets to actually meaningful games.

This mini-surveillance app tracked students' location during the game. Going outside the range of the stadium's network before the game was over docked points from the students' totals, dropping them down the list of ticket buyers.

This surveillance was weird and ultra-specific and motivated by perhaps the most powerful football coach in the nation. Other schools are experimenting with more pervasive tracking, this time tied to class attendance, as the Washington Post reports.

Short-range phone sensors and campuswide WiFi networks are empowering colleges across the United States to track hundreds of thousands of students more precisely than ever before. Dozens of schools now use such technology to monitor students’ academic performance, analyze their conduct or assess their mental health.

[...]

Instead of GPS coordinates, the schools rely on networks of Bluetooth transmitters and wireless access points to piece together students’ movements from dorm to desk. One company that uses school WiFi networks to monitor movements says it gathers 6,000 location data points per student every day.

School administrators are all over this. The thousands of data points provide comprehensive tracking of student movements. The focus is classroom attendance, assisted by hundreds of tiny electronic hall monitors. Instructors can be notified of missing students and send text messages or emails to their phones in hopes of getting them to class.

But there are more disturbing aspects as well. How anyone is supposed to determine a student's mental health by non-stop location tracking isn't explained, but the article says schools are adding "risk factors" like, um, not going to the library enough. A whole bunch of tracking isn't going to make any of these risk factors less risky. The mere fact that students know they're being tracked could discourage them from visiting on-campus mental health services or participating in events or gatherings that are critical of school policies or administration.

Inevitably, these trackers are going to be weaponized to keep tabs on only certain students… like maybe the browner or blacker students administrators might feel are less academically-inclined. And by "inevitably," I mean it's already happening and the company doing it thinks that's a pretty cool thing.

[SpotterEDU] has experimented with ways to make the surveillance fun, gamifying students’ schedules with colorful Bitmoji or digital multiday streaks. But the real value may be for school officials, who [company CEO Rick] Carter said can split students into groups, such as “students of color” or “out-of-state students,” for further review. When asked why an official would want to segregate out data on students of color, Carter said many colleges already do so, looking for patterns in academic retention and performance, adding that it “can provide important data for retention. Even the first few months of recorded data on class attendance and performance can help predict how likely a group of students is to” stay enrolled.

SpotterEDU utilizes Bluetooth connections to track students. According to the Post article, it's already being used by at least 40 major colleges. Competitors like Degree Analytics use WiFi to do the same job, tracking students through their connections to the school's network. That's another 20 state universities and 200,000 students being followed everywhere they go by surveillance tech.

The companies producing this tech believe pervasive surveillance is the best solution for both class attendance issues and any number of other personal issues students might be dealing with. It's a brave new world where students can be watchlisted for skipping out on lunch or simply deciding to change their habits. Degree Analytics says its algorithms will detect changes in students' "behavioral states" and alert administrators and other staff.

Universities buying into these programs are pushing students to homogeneity, which is pretty much what everyone's been saying about most education services for years now. The system isn't there to provide the nation with independent free thinkers. It's there to provide the nation's industries with cooperative employees who won't rock corporate boards after they've climbed onboard.

A classifier algorithm divides the student body into peer groups — “full-time freshmen,” say, or “commuter students” — and the system then compares each student to “normal” behavior, as defined by their peers.

[..]

The students who deviate from those day-to-day campus rhythms are flagged for anomalies, and the company then alerts school officials in case they want to pursue real-world intervention.

The other added benefit of regressing outlying students to the mean is getting them used to the level of surveillance they'll be dealing with in the real world, where employers track employees' internet use and vet their social media accounts before making a hiring decision. It also lets them know that they're numbers, rather than people. And whenever there's a deviation in the narrative, the tech will be believed before the individual tracked by it.

Several students said they didn’t mind a system designed to keep them honest. But one of them, a freshman athlete at Temple University who asked to speak anonymously to avoid team punishment, said the SpotterEDU app has become a nightmare, marking him absent when he’s sitting in class and marking him late when he’s on time.

[...]

He then had to defend himself to campus staff members, who believed the data more than him.

Are the tradeoffs worth it for students? That's a question no one seems to be asking -- at least no one buying or selling the tech. Seemingly forgetting the fact these students are paying for the privilege of attending these schools, administrators are acting like it's the students who owe the school some sort of allegiance, rather than the other way around.

By all means, the school should pay close attention to those it's paying for -- the ones there on athletic or academic scholarships. But the rest of the student body is there, voluntarily exchanging money for further education. It's on them if they don't show up in class. Tracking students everywhere on campus makes no sense if the primary concern is class attendance.

It doesn't make any more sense if the plan is to recognize at-risk students and intervene before problems get worse. Establishing a baseline using "normal" students will only help school staff more swiftly ostracize those wandering too far from the algorithmic norm, ensuring those with issues that probably should be addressed with professional help will become more adept at camouflaging their red flags.

Relying on pervasive surveillance to police things will only make things worse for everyone involved. Universities have long looked at students as nothing more than paychecks. Reducing them to data points further removes their humanity and agency, which makes it far less likely their concerns and issues will be addressed in any meaningful way.

Filed Under: college, students, surveillance, tracking


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  • identicon
    RollTide, 31 Dec 2019 @ 6:28am

    great possibilities

    cutting-classes will be much more difficult -- student grades will factor in actual attendance data in the classrooms.

    and this technology will spread to high schools and junior high schools, as administrators strive to closely control the inmates.

    teachers/professors should be closely tracked too ... to make sure their actual work hours and locations justify their paychecks.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 6:36am

      Re: great possibilities

      "cutting-classes will be much more difficult"

      • So what ... this is not high school and the student is paying for an education that they do not want. Sounds like a business opportunity to fleece those helicopter parents again.

      "student grades will factor in actual attendance data"

      • The good profs do not care if students waste their money and why should they ... not like the school is bending over backwards providing tenure or anything.

      Hmmm, now I'm not so sure - is this satire/sarcasm?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 8:12am

        Re: Re: great possibilities

        is this satire/sarcasm?

        I was wondering that too...

        "student grades will factor in actual attendance data"

        So... if the student carries no electronics on his person, or has a different phone for school contacts, or even simply has a phone that does not support bluetooth... does that person get their grades marked down for not cooperating with surveillance?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 10:24am

          Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

          Or they disabled Bluetooth. It isn't needed unless you are using a device like a smartwatch that needs the phone tie in.

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          • icon
            urza9814 (profile), 31 Dec 2019 @ 11:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

            Yeah...I've never had a phone on which I enabled Bluetooth. Never had a use for it.

            If I were currently in college, I'd be looking into building/buying wifi/bluetooth jammers. Illegal, but if it had a short enough range (ie, enough for your entire class to be incorrectly flagged as "absent") and you can probably get away with it for quite a while. Especially if you only use it intermittently. Share it with a couple friends and activate whenever you notice someone actually absent.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2020 @ 8:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

              Wifi and bluetooth are not illegal to jam, since they are part 15 services.

              Jamming part 15 devices is not illegal, since part 15 has to accept any interference to it.

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              • icon
                nasch (profile), 1 Jan 2020 @ 10:14am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

                Just because they have to accept interference doesn't mean you're allowed to jam them.

                "Federal law prohibits the operation, marketing, or sale of any type of jamming equipment, including devices that interfere with cellular and Personal Communication Services (PCS), police radar, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and wireless networking services (Wi-Fi)."

                https://www.fcc.gov/general/jammer-enforcement

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                • identicon
                  Annonymouse, 1 Jan 2020 @ 2:08pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

                  Funny thing that.
                  A number of businesses actually do jam as part of their business model.
                  Hotels Convention Centers to name two.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2020 @ 3:13pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

                    And Marriott at least has signed consent orders with the FCC to no longer do so.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 5:00am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

                    That is probably so you can use their filtered services.

                    Some hotels do filter, including streaming services.

                    Filtering can be circumvented by using a VPN to bypass the filters, and that is not illegal to do

                    When I was in online radio, I found that one hotel blocked Live 365, which I was using, but by loggging on to the VPN on my home computer, I could access Live 365 and be able to check on my station.

                    Using my VPN to bypass filtering in that hotel, if they are using it, did not break any federal laws, or any laws in California, where this hotel was located.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 12:27am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

                  If the jamming signal does not leave 4he building, it is not illegal

                  One SaveMart outlet that used to exist here used to jam cellphones, but were careful to not let the signal get outside the store.

                  This was done as part of a no cellphone policy for their workers.

                  The minute you walked into the store, your phone lost service.

                  I asked about that once and they told me that because tha jamming signal did not leave the building that FCC laws against jammers did not apply.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 1:08am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

                    Some stranger told me this was legal will fly like a lead balloon when you are taken to court.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 4:51am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

                      Fines are computerized, all that SaveMart would have had to have done is break into the FCC's computers and erase that fine and they would not owe it anymore,

                      problem solved

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 8:23am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

                    How does the signal not leave the building when a door is opened?

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    • icon
      Gorshkov (profile), 31 Dec 2019 @ 8:09am

      Re: great possibilities

      cutting-classes will be much more difficult -- student grades will factor in actual attendance data in the classrooms.

      As a student, I would expect to be graded on my knowledge of the source material, not my location in meatspace.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 9:41am

        Re: Re: great possibilities

        Exactly, meatspace! This is an admin state higher learning undemocratic appalling mentality. Boycott All Colleges that do this.

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      • identicon
        bob, 31 Dec 2019 @ 10:38am

        Re: Re: great possibilities

        Some classes do require attendance because part of the learning requires discussions between people. If no one attends, those conversationsns get dull.

        Yes we have electronic means to communicate but sometimes the focus is on building interpersonal skills that require a physical presence to do. Also you can lose a lot of context when you cant see, hear, or engage with the person in real time.

        For other classes you dont need the physical presence so professors don't take attendance and the problem resolves itself.

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        • icon
          urza9814 (profile), 31 Dec 2019 @ 11:37am

          Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

          That is more or less the problem.

          Classes that require discussion are typically small. You can't have much of a discussion between two hundred people packed into a lecture hall. So is it REALLY that difficult for the professor to check off which students are absent? That's how it was always handled when I was in school -- if they cared about attendance, they'd monitor it themselves and make it a part of your grade. If it didn't matter, they wouldn't check. Unfortunately, there started to be more pressure from administrators to do it for all classes. Some professors started taking attendance and outright telling students that they had no choice in the matter and would rather not. Other professors told the students not to worry, that they were going to mark everyone present every day because the administrators were idiots who didn't know what they're doing. Now it's all going to be automated, so regardless of if attendance actually matters, regardless of what the professor thinks about the material they are teaching, regardless of if the university is forcing you to take "Introduction to Object Oriented Programming in Java" for the THIRD FREAKING TIME because they have no policy to test out of it...you'll still have to be present every single day because there's no flexibility and no ability to reason with this kind of automation.

          These are the kinds of policies that lead to 19 year old kids sitting in the back corner getting drunk from a vodka-filled water bottle at 10am three times a week just to cope with the boredom. Been there, done that.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 8:40pm

          Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

          If you are in a class small enough for discussions, electronic tracking is irrelevant. Universities don't want to pay for classes that small anymore, anyway.

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    • identicon
      kallethen, 31 Dec 2019 @ 8:25am

      Re: great possibilities

      cutting-classes will be much more difficult -- student grades will factor in actual attendance data in the classrooms.

      Um... at least in classes I've taken, this already happens without the need for electronic surveillance. The professor takes attendance and it factors into a portion of our grade for classroom participation.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 10:27am

        Re: Re: great possibilities

        In a university? I do not recall attendance being taken, however - if you fail to turn in the homework ......

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        • identicon
          bob, 31 Dec 2019 @ 10:39am

          Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

          Depends on the class and the teaching objectives of the professor.

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          • identicon
            Annonymouse, 1 Jan 2020 @ 2:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: great possibilities

            My first year lectures were classes of up to 300 students. Yhis was at a satellite University campus. The tutorials and labs were around 20ish at a time. Limits are always resource based.
            A lab has only so much equipment, a professor is expensive and there are few of them. Tutors and techs are cheap.and there are plenty of them.

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    • icon
      nasch (profile), 31 Dec 2019 @ 2:45pm

      Re: great possibilities

      teachers/professors should be closely tracked too ... to make sure their actual work hours and locations justify their paychecks.

      Why, because professors are routinely skipping work and leaving the lectures they're supposed to be doing to others? What exactly are you worried about here?

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      • icon
        urza9814 (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 6:48am

        Re: Re: great possibilities

        Makes as much sense as tracking the students. What's the university worried about, that they're getting money for nothing?

        It reminds me a bit of back when the music industry seemed so convinced that they were just one big lawsuit away from getting people to start buying CDs again. Changing technology is changing the business, but they'd rather try to force customers to stick to the old model rather than figuring out how to do something new...

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    • icon
      btr1701 (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 9:02am

      Re: great possibilities

      The article below doesn't really address what happens with students who either don't want to carry a smartphone around with them everywhere (even in this day and age, there are those who still use old-style flip phones that don't do anything other than make calls) or can't afford one in the first place.

      Are you just not allowed to go to college now if you don't have one of these things and allow the school to co-opt it into an Orwellian surveillance device?

      And it's not like the kids can't game the system, anyway. This would have been so easy to defeat if we'd had it back in my college days.

      ME: Hey, man, put my phone in your backpack. I don't feel like going to Psych today. I'll do the same for you next week.

      ROOMMATE: Cool, no problem.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anon, 31 Dec 2019 @ 6:50am

    I don't get it...

    When I went to university - decades ago - nobody cared whether you went to class. Nobody took attendance, except at exams. The general attitude was simple - "We got your money already, you can do what you want. You're over 18, you're an adult, you will have to manage yourself anyway in the real world." Attendance was for high schools.

    I'm surprised there is not more gaming the system. If all you have to do is have the equivalent of a designated driver who carries all the Bluetooth units from place to place., or jamming the bluetooth receivers, on any of a dozen typical tricks...

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    • identicon
      Damien, 31 Dec 2019 @ 7:09am

      Re: I don't get it...

      And that's how it should be. When I went to university as a 28 year old non-traditional student literally the ONLY time I accepted any form of tracking was when I was working in the lab or as a TA. Why? Because that was when I was serving as a university employee. Every other second I spent on campus was as a paying customer, and I wasn't afraid to push back against anyone who tried to tell me otherwise. Luckily, apparently, I attended prior to school tracking apps and if they tracked my wifi it wasn't linked to any grades.

      The idea that a paying university student needs to meet mandatory attendance metrics, though, is infuriating. We go into debt for years to pay for the "privilege" of a university education. We don't owe them anything, and if we want to waste our money not attending classes (and getting poor test grades as a result) that's on us. If we can skip classes and still do well on the tests? That's on the professor.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 9:46am

        Re: Re: I don't get it...

        These admins must be twiddling their thumbs and spying on the students. Let them twiddle their thumbs WITHOUT the students. BOYCOTT! Boycott all campuses who spy on adults who pay tuition in advance. What incredible bullshit.

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      • icon
        urza9814 (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 7:02am

        Re: Re: I don't get it...

        "If we can skip classes and still do well on the tests? That's on the professor."

        I suspect that's their biggest fear.

        Look at comp sci for example, since that's what I did. I've been programming pretty much my entire life. Did "Hello, World!" style stuff in QBASIC before I reached first grade, started learning C-style languages by grade 5. By the time I was a freshman in college, "Introduction to Object Oriented Programming" had been a review the first TWO times I already took it, and the university still insisted that I do it all over again. So I'm sitting there with more than 10 years of experience having taught myself through the Internet, in classes beside kids who didn't decide to learn to program until they got to college and had to pick a major. And that was at a pretty good school. Now that I'm in the workforce, I'm sitting beside people who literally didn't know how to power on a PC until they got to university.

        Once upon a time, if you wanted to be a blacksmith, you could go sit around the blacksmith shop, watching and asking questions, and eventually you could become an apprentice and get into the job. Then we took the kids out of the workplaces and stuck them all in school, and ended up with a fairly uniform system of education. You could maybe learn some older information from the library or some kids might be privileged enough to get enrolled in additional programs, but generally students were learning at a fairly consistent rate. But now we're back to a place where self-driven education is common and effective, kids are learning stuff from websites and YouTube, and sometimes even staying more current than the textbooks their schools are using...but the schools are still trying to pretend they're running an industrial assembly line with every student exactly the same. And when kids start getting bored and skipping class and still getting straight-As, it hurts the reputation of the university, and of course like any business run by an idiot they choose to treat the symptoms rather than the root cause...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      renato (profile), 31 Dec 2019 @ 9:36am

      Re: I don't get it...

      Maybe the attendance requirement comes from outside the university.
      In Brazil, the Ministry of Education requires that a degree contains at least n hours of courses, and those require an attendance of at least 75 %.
      Several teachers didn't care at all if the students went to the classes or not, but they still had an attendance checking, usually just a list for the students to sign, which could be easily gamed and they didn't care.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 7:03am

    penalizing education doesn't end well

    Treating adults as prisoners by default, just because they want an education?
    And as 3rd party business records, would police even need a warrant to access the data? We're talking WIFI AP generated data, not cell tower data.

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    • identicon
      Professor Ronny, 31 Dec 2019 @ 2:40pm

      Re: penalizing education doesn't end well

      And as 3rd party business records, would police even need a warrant to access the data? We're talking WIFI AP generated data, not cell tower data.

      Educational data is protected by the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act so yes, a warrant would be required.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        bob, 31 Dec 2019 @ 3:49pm

        Re: Re: penalizing education doesn't end well

        And that act means nothing to the federal government unless people with power and ethics are in positions of power. Which at the moment leadership of legislative and executive branches don't inspire much confidence to me that they would enforce laws too much if they feel they can get away with it or people don't know about the abuse.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          btr1701 (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 9:20am

          Re: Re: Re: penalizing education doesn't end well

          And that act means nothing to the federal government unless people with power and ethics are in positions of power.

          But it does mean something to the universities that hold the data. Getting info on a student from a university is like pulling teeth, even with a valid court order.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 7:27am

    the article says schools are adding "risk factors" like, um, not going to the library enough.

    ...huh?

    I think I went to the library maybe once a semester on average when I was in college. Maybe twice. And it worked out just fine for me; with the Internet, you don't need a physical library for just about anything anymore. What exactly does subpar library attendance supposedly put you at risk for?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 31 Dec 2019 @ 7:40am

      Re:

      Increased risk for overdue books.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      urza9814 (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 7:08am

      Re:

      Yeah, I never went to the library a single time until senior year, and that was only because I didn't feel like paying for the textbook so I used the library's copy to do my homework.

      Maybe the reporter got that backwards -- going to the library is a risk. It means you aren't wealthy enough. Helps the administration identify the most profitable customers.

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    • icon
      Delestoran (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 7:48pm

      Re:

      Risk factors - like spending time with certain other people. Boys spending time with girls. Who was at that party in the dorm room where alcohol was involved. Who was there before and who came after we busted them? How many of these parties did they have this semester?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 7:39am

    Maybe students not showing up to class is a data point that could be used in other, more productive, ways?

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    • identicon
      bob, 31 Dec 2019 @ 10:42am

      Re:

      Which the data point doesn't require electronic surveillance to gather. Unless you dont trust TAs or Professors to gather accurate metrics. Which still wouldn't justify doing mass surveillance like the university is doing.

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      • identicon
        Professor Ronny, 31 Dec 2019 @ 2:43pm

        Re: Re:

        I'm all against this but it's not practical to get the data from the professor or TA's. That would be a ton of coordination to get it and either the professor would spend a lot of time entering it into a database (which I would not do) or would send paper forms for someone else to enter.

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 7:46am

    Retention really is a big, ongoing problem for students of color, true. Arguments could certainly be made for more proactive intervention, but this seems like a really invasive way to identify the troubled students.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 9:48am

      Re:

      Which colors? Red ones or Green, Yellow, White?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 11:47am

        Re: Re:

        I'm very obviously borrowing terminology from quotes in the article. If you have a problem with it, address your empty questions to the people that were quoted.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 10:30am

      Re:

      "ongoing problem for students of color"

      Excuse me?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 11:44am

        Re: Re:

        Drop out rates are higher for black students than for white or asian students. I don't know what the current politically correct way to put that is.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 12:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          " I don't know what the current politically correct way to put that is."
          I would think the drop out rate has a lot more to do with the high cost of education combined with a lack of descent paying jobs rather than ones skin color.
          However - I think the university sees it from the pov that they need a certain percentage of minorities in order to obtain funding tied to same. I doubt they care much about the students education.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 9:01pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Whi implied that that skin color actually caused the retention issues? It's a valid metric, and accurate. The problem is generally how people with certain shades of skin are treated, both in uni and all the formative years up to that. Including the cultural baggage of centuries and the different generational issues of handling that, with differing degrees of success relative to the (putatively ex- ) colonial culture in which they are embedded.

            Lack of decent paying jobs? Sure, for everyone, but that availability is also on a sliding color scale.

            But honestly, i don't think the uni ptb give a shit over funding for minorities, (they get more for their sports bullshit) although actual caring faculty might, and they are generally not the type to resort to Orwellian tracking.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2020 @ 6:29am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Point being, use the metric that most accurately describes the thing you are trying to measure. Isolate the variables affecting the function you are analyzing.

              Oh yeah ... and correlation is not necessarily causation.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 11:30am

      Re:

      It is also assuming utterly backwards causation on several levels. Lack of engagement and often feelings of alienation drive lack of attendance. The paternalism is way worse than apathy racially especially historically.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 31 Dec 2019 @ 1:41pm

        ... Primarily by going to another college

        Lack of engagement and often feelings of alienation drive lack of attendance. The paternalism is way worse than apathy racially especially historically.

        No worries, I'm sure knowing that their every move will be tracked, and that any 'deviations' from what someone has determined to be 'normal' will get them extra scrutiny will solve those issues real quick.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2020 @ 6:32am

          Re: ... Primarily by going to another college

          Yes, the uni is taking over the helicopter parenting responsibilities, what could possibly go wrong.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      btr1701 (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 9:32am

      Re:

      Retention really is a big, ongoing problem for students of color, true.

      Why is it a problem for students of any color?

      They've been admitted. They're adults. They can decide to put in the effort and finish the degree requirements or leave. Why does the university care one way or the other?

      If it's a money thing-- "We care because the longer you stay the more money we get"-- then why would they only care about students "of color"? Money spends the same no matter who it comes from.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 7:52am

    Now, letting you phone battery go flat, or leaving it in your other bag can get you into trouble.

    If the students want to protest, they could simply leave their phones behind, or switch them off.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 31 Dec 2019 @ 8:04am

      Re:

      Oh, the horror, students without their electronic leashes (aka support touchstones) would be bereft in their feelings of disconnection. Besides, future employers want 24/7 connection with a less than 1 minute response time whether one is on the clock or not and this is just training them for their inevitable work environment. Perfectly reasonable.

      /s

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        bob, 31 Dec 2019 @ 10:47am

        Re: Re:

        I know you are joking but I have actually had a boss tell me a prospective employee would not accept a job because the work area banned electronic devices while on the clock.

        It doesn't bother me to be without a device but each generation has their handful of things that they can't live without. Or at least that they feel they cant live without.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 11:36am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It is also a very substantial signal about the employer and their mentality - micromanagement and watching for sins instead of end deliverable or performance absent an intrinsic need for it. In addition to emergency contact obligations like their kid getting sick or family in declining health and near the edge of death.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 12:03pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Or maybe the no electronics is a contractual item. Ever work for the military or a three letter acronym?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 4:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It really depends. I work with sensitive equipment, and bringing a cellphone in would disrupt it. So in that case it makes sense. Without knowing the job we can't say if it's a reasonable term or not.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            btr1701 (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 9:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            In addition to emergency contact obligations like their kid getting sick or family in declining health and near the edge of death.

            That's why you provide a company landline number to your emergency contacts. If there's a problem, they can still get in touch with you, just not on your personal cell phone.

            (I wonder how people who work in the intelligence community--CIA, NSA, DIA, etc-- and other sensitive positions where security and anti-electronic espionage rules prohibit them from bringing a transmitting device into their workspace manage to keep in touch with their families and children...)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Professor Ronny, 31 Dec 2019 @ 2:45pm

      Re:

      If the students want to protest, they could simply leave their phones behind, or switch them off.

      Protest or not, I cannot imagine my students actually doing this. I walk down the hall and almost all of them are on their phones. In class, 30 to 40 percent use their phones a lot. I think they would have a breakdown without their phones.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 8:00am

    By all means, the school should pay close attention to those it's paying for -- the ones there on athletic or academic scholarships.

    Schools basically hike the sticker price up to absurd levels then give everyone scholarships already. This is an absurdly easily-abused loophole.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2020 @ 12:51pm

      Re:

      "Schools basically hike the sticker price up to absurd levels"

      I am sure there has been much of that, however, it should be noted that a significant portion of the increases to the so called sticker price is due to decreases in education funding at both federal and state levels. This has been going on for some time now, what - forty some years?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    renato (profile), 31 Dec 2019 @ 9:41am

    The article says that wifi and bluetooth are used to track the students, but would it work with a student that can rely solely on its data plan?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Great_Scott (profile), 31 Dec 2019 @ 11:04am

    I can't believe this actually works.

    I'm not sure how many minutes it took for these students to nominate "designated cellphone carriers", but it couldn't have been many.

    If they are really sophisticated they'd even make sure that no one carried more than two, to spoof any somewhat-accurate identity tracking attempts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 31 Dec 2019 @ 1:49pm

    Time to break out the old test

    If students are going to be tracked and scrutinized it seems only fair that staff and those in charge of the college are likewise tracked and carefully watched, to make sure they aren't acting in 'abnormal' fashions of course.

    I strongly suspect that if students pushed back hard enough and demanded that if they were going to be tracked then so would the ones doing the tracking the plan would get tossed real quick, as it's only fun to be the one doing the watching, not so much when you're being watched.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2019 @ 2:19pm

      Re: Time to break out the old test

      Well - we all know that university and higher education is a bastion for liberal ideas ... can't have that - better track what everyone of those libby libtards does.
      /s

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Professor Ronny, 31 Dec 2019 @ 2:54pm

    No Tracking

    I get ads for this type of technology all the time. They want me to use it in the classroom to either take attendance or post multiple choice questions on the screen and have the students "vote" with their phones. I've just never seen the educational value in doing this.

    I take roll by passing around a sign in sheet. It takes me 30 seconds to start it going around the room. If a student wants to game the system, they have someone else sign in for them. If they wanted to game the electronic system, they would have someone else bring their phone to class. No matter what you do and how you do it, students will find a way to game it.

    As for quiz questions in class, a show of hands works fairly well.

    As for checking on them going to the library, who goes to the library any more? I'm a professor and do a lot of research, research that years ago would have me in the library almost daily. Now, between the databases my university purchases for faculty and students and Google Scholar, I go to the library at most two-or-three times a year. I'll bet a lot of my students don't know where the library is on campus. (It's a large campus.)

    Student retention (of any color) is a big issue but it's not measured anywhere near the way you think it is measured and does not mean what you think it means. It's much more complex.

    I wish there were easy solutions to retention, progression, and graduation (RPG in university speak) but there is not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Señor Tutor, 31 Dec 2019 @ 6:57pm

      Re: No Tracking

      Hey Ronny. Good to see your perspective with a constructive comment and I know part of this might sound like a marketing spiel.

      I run classes of about 100 students, where that type of voting technology IS used. Its main advantage is in getting the class to engage by determining how well a current topic is understood, then giving relevant constructive feedback to the class and any necessary corrections/ suggestions. It can also be used to determine how well the lesson plan is working.

      Based on the responses some of the options are:

      Move on immediately because most of the class understands, and then later provide one-to-one help for those who need it.
      Provide an enhancing example to reinforce the information.
      Get the class to discuss amongst themselves what they think the expected answer should be, then re-poll.
      Review and clarify the information that the class is struggling with.

      I would think there is a minimum class size below which this is not useful, and maybe that is what you have. I certainly don't use it in classes below 30.

      As for libraries, some universities have moved some of their physical copies to other on-campus storage with on-demand borrowing, thus freeing up that floorspace for student study/interaction/meeting room space. Online access to texts also reduces the need for physical copies.

      As long as students ACTUALLY read the information available and learn from it, the format doesn't always matter, however there are sometimes advantages to physical copies, which allow rapid browsing.

      Student retention is affected by all sorts of pressures such as part-time jobs and boredom/disinterest in the "wrong" degree. Leveraging digital platforms as a teaching method faces the parallel challenges of providing an education through that medium, and the inherent distractions that come with whatever else can be done with the device (social media, cat videos, commenting on technology blogs, etc).

      I'll stop here and refrain from turning this into a long tome on "best practice" because I think I'd be preaching to the choir.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave P., 1 Jan 2020 @ 4:41am

    Incredible

    Looking at this from the other side of the pond, this excessive intrusion seems amazing, out of order and smacks of "big brother" at its most extreme. Surely there must be some sort of human rights issue that can be invoked here? Are they tracking how many times students are using the toilets? As for the "of colour" classification, words fail me. Is that legal? This is beyond absurd and needs to be stamped on with a test case. Perhaps a student strike might stir things up a bit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      btr1701 (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 9:48am

      Re: Incredible

      Surely there must be some sort of human rights issue that can be invoked here?

      As long as they voluntary agree to it as a condition of enrolling in the university, I don't see how it violates any established right in the U.S., regardless of how creepy it is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 10:26am

        Re: Re: Incredible

        I am unaware of anything written in law stating a right to an education however there may be a precedent in court cases - idk.
        Regardless, It behooves society to ensure its members are educated, this should be obvious but apparently it is not. Our present administration is shitting the bed.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Jane D#53, 1 Jan 2020 @ 10:27am

    re: this jas been.going on for decades

    ROGS first saw this in 2003.

    Back then, it was the local college president and his Hillel /ADL / Dominaed minions, harassing, slandering, and targeting individual students who defied Anti Defamation League standards of speech.

    And I watched, over ten years, how these petty criminals are not.prosecuted substantially, though they should be.
    Many of “them ” have Israeli ties.

    That is a news story you will NOT dare cover, for obvious reasons, Mike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Jan 2020 @ 11:37am

      Hi, R/O/G/S. Please take your anti-Semitism elsewhere—preferable Stormfront or wherever other “fine” anti-Semites congregate to share conspiracy theories and hate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2020 @ 3:09pm

      Re: ROGS or should I say blue balls?

      So let’s add dissociative identity disorder to the lengthy list of mental problems you’ve got bro.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    They, 1 Jan 2020 @ 10:36am

    I mean, whoever they are

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 6:52am

    Does anyone think they are properly securing this data? What's going to happen when it gets hacked (not if)?

    Even worse is if a student becomes a crime victim because their location data was revealed to the wrong person.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bobob, 2 Jan 2020 @ 2:02pm

    How about, cut the cord and leave the phone at home? If you have to be in touch with everyone 24/7, guess what?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Delestoran (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 7:45pm

    Something not said

    This is about behavior control, but not the ones that are being discussed. This is not about attendance, or grades, or preventing suicides. This about controlling the social and sexual interactions of the students.

    When I went to college, the university was very interested in where the students were - especially lunch areas and dorms. The administration did not care who went to the library, but they very much cared about who visited the dorms. And they cared about lunch room attendance. If it involved food or sex, they cared. A Lot.

    Why? We were told it was because of crime. Can't trust people to not steal. Someone is going to do it. Oh and here is a list of rules about having girls visit the boys dorm and vice versa. The crime did go on, but more often that occurred in the parking lots at night than in the dorm. But what happened often was a girl in the boys dorm and vice versa. The sexes want to hook up and will find a way to do it. Getting caught was a real pain in the butt and could lead to expulsion from school - but only if you were living on campus.

    Being able to track the student location on campus will start in the class rooms and soon be in the dorms. No bribable RA to look the other way when a member of the opposite sex is over after hours. The fact that they are looking for changes in behavior patterns tells me that this is exactly what they are looking for. X and Y meet in class. X and Y begin to show up together in areas. They leave campus and return together - a date perhaps? Then X's phone goes idle one night at the same time Y's shows idle or a minimum amount of activity. A sexual event between X and Y? What about X and Y together in a dorm while the room mate is away? These things will be examined. A campus counselor making the wrong assumption about X and Y's behavior and showing up for some sort of behavior intervention will not be pleasant. The data will be taken as fact, regardless of the plethora of inaccuracies inherent in it, and certainly over the word of some miscreant lying youth.

    Don't forget that data is manipulatable, corruptible, and easily compromised. It won't be hard for this to become a nightmare.

    Going to college should not be the Human version of the BBC documentary The Secret Life of the Cat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    hennnend, 1 Feb 2020 @ 3:20am

    Even if students as a result do not come to class, this does not mean that you can track his location as if nothing had happened. In the end, in an era when we are increasingly moving to online education, such a statement looks silly. This is especially true for items where it would be enough for me to read https://essayservicescanner.com/scribendi-review/ select the necessary resource and turn to them for help. In principle, the story with scribendi review had a real place in my life, so it was verified by personal experience

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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