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 with the new system, that’s not the worst problem.
The digital attendance system is a product of educational software, given a name inspired by a ridiculous tech startup. Covering things like installing card readers in teaching rooms across the campus has been purchased at considerable cost to the university.
It has glaring flaws despite its high price. It does not appear to communicate with other software, such as Moodle, the open-source learning platform that provides resources for their modules to students. There are differences between the number of students registered on each module and the number of classes attended by this system. – Especially those students who are more elusive.
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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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