Why are students faking attendance? They feel cheated by the system

My university has introduced a new method of monitoring student progress, a digital apparatus for tracking class attendance. Instead of students putting their initials on a register, they tap their ID cards on a card reader. The lecturer then navigates the university website to retrieve the tally – which is far more cumbersome than glancing at a sheet of paper. But that’s not the worst problem with the new system.

The digital attendance system is an educational software product, given a ridiculous tech startup-inspired name. It’s been bought in at considerable cost to the university to cover things like the installation of card readers in teaching rooms across the campus.

Despite its high price, it has glaring flaws. It doesn’t seem to communicate with other software, like Moodle, the open-source learning platform that provides students with resources for their modules. There are disparities between the number of students registered on each module and the number this system says attend classes. This disempowers lecturers from properly monitoring attendance – especially that of the more elusive students.

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To make things worse, the system sometimes lists students as attending when they’re not. A technical glitch? Not this time. It turns out the system is open to abuse – by students. One colleague raised the issue in an email to members of the department, reporting that he arrived to start a class to discover a student tapping in and then leaving.

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