Lynn University is piloting a student location pinging app, Class120, that monitors students' class attendance and responds when they skip class by sending a reminder to attend. The app offers the option to send notifications to parents and coaches as well.
Class120, "uses geolocation technology and proprietary campus mapping to detect a student's smartphone or tablet in class." Rhea Kelly of Campus Technology writes.
Lynn University is to encourage students to attend classes, which according to a report issued by the institution will boost students' academic performance. The university cites its own data, according to which students that miss 25% of their classes have a 68% chance to get a grade below 2.0.
Lynn Univeristy president Kevin Ross said in a statement that:
"If we can help students continue some of the great behaviors that they learned in high school—like attending class — until the moment they graduate and eventually become employed, then we're doing our job."
Many disagree that attendance is an accurate metric for predicting students' academic performance. Curt Bonk, a professor of instructional systems technology at Indiana University at Bloomington, argues that it's not the right way to motivate students to study harder.
Others, too, disapprove of such student monitoring practices. In an Observer opinion piece, Bethany Mandel sums this initiative as becoming a place where "technological innovation, electronic surveillance, and the infantilization of American young adults came together in one toxic brew."
The Class120 app will be downloaded on the mini iPads given to all Lynn students and will ping the students' iPads to monitor their attendance.
Using GPS technology, the app will be able to tell whether a student is at the designated area or in a class, lab or lecture hall. If the students' iPad is not where it was supposed to be, then the app will send an automatic reminder to the student and might even send a notification to coaches and even parents if set up to do so.
The main goal is to make attendance taking by faculty easier and less time-consuming. So far, instructors were using an app that showed students' images and have to manually take attendance. Now with Class120, the process is expected to become automated.
The initiative to track students is opposed by Khaliah Barnes and the student-privacy project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, who argues that simply because universities have access to advanced technology doesn't mean they should be using it, pointing out a potential abuse of this technology by educational institutions.
Kevin Ross hopes that although the initiative is in beta phase this semester and it's optional for students, eventually it will be used by all students on campus. Whether students will be obliged to download the app remains ambiguous. Lynn's President says:
"we're strongly suggesting to students that this is the easiest way for you to be counted in class."
The CEO at Core Principle, Jeff Whorley, says Class120 is expected to have about 5,000 users across the country in university campuses by fall.