In the absence of any meaningful study and/or assessment capability for their lame mass production/mass consumption education options, universities take to high-tech spying on their students to check whether they are in class or not. This is a brilliant condemnation of their own academic standards when they show that simply putting a body in a chair while someone stands in front of them and talks is good enough to get college credit. This is a sad day for college education for the following reasons.
And if they aren’t in class, so what?
If they aren’t in class, if the student decides that today they will bag class, does that mean that the university will collect the data on where they actually are? Will this information later end up in a portfolio somewhere so that it can be used against them when they run for public office? “Remember that one day when you were absent from class? Well we happen to know that you were at a drug rehab clinic on that day, so if you want to get votes give us money.” Will we be asked to trust that the information will not be used in that way? Are you insane?
And if they were in class, so what?
So let’s say they were in class with their high-tech spy ware. Does that mean that they are actually absorbing any of the information coming out of the person’s mouth that is standing 100 yards way? Does that mean that they couldn’t be getting more on the subject by digging through the library and researching it themselves? Will they get a better grade on the test because they were there, or could they just as easily study with friends and books?
Student learning research suggests than an entertaining lecture is not necessarily good teaching. Despite being entertained, students may not have learnt anything. Deep approaches to learning are more likely to be enhanced through a combination in the lecturer of explanatory skills and certain communicative qualities. These qualities include the lecturer’s ability to interact with students in ways which encourage involvement, commitment and interest (Bliss & Ogborn, 1977). Other important factors include the lecturer’s ability to act from a student-centred position, to respect students and to provide individual guidance (Ramsden, 1988a).
- Bliss, J. & Ogborn, J. (1977) Students’ Reaction to Undergraduate Science, London: Heinemann.
- Hodgson, V.E. (1984) ‘Learning from Lectures’ in F. Marton et al (eds) The Experience of Learning, Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press.
- Ramsden, P. (1988a) ‘Context and Strategy: Situational differences in learning’, in R. R.. Schmeck (ed) Learning Strategies and Learning Styles, New York: Plenum.
How do they know that they are in class anyway, even after spying on them?
So does it mean that by giving out these gizmos that they will be able to confirm attendance accurately? No.
Administrators at the university acknowledge that students could give their iPhones to classmates to sign in for them, but say the young men and women are not likely to part with their mobile devices.
Come on. If they give students new phones, they will still have the phones that they had before they arrived on campus. Their lives don’t begin on the day they step foot on the college green. They were high school students before, and their friends have their phones, and all their phone numbers and email addresses are already stored in their previously owned cells. No one could pry my old trusty cell phone out of my fingers, but I would certainly be able to work out a deal with a friend to carry my i Phone in with hers from time to time while I studied with a hot cup of coffee in the comfortable chairs in the library.
Instead of delivering well planned learning opportunities for students, which would include the best learning opportunities the school can offer, access to learning support, and essential assessment, these schools are settling for the lowest common denominator, attendance, and attaching free high-tech gadgets as a way of wiggling out of their responsibility. Ask yourself whose interests this program serves. Our kids’? Ours as parents? Teachers? Society’s? Macintosh and college administrators getting a little on the side for their decisions?
Keep your spying paws off my kids and give them the education they are paying for.