A report from Yahoo News Tuesday detailed a group of New York engineers who are developing a “biometric classroom” monitoring program that will track students every move.
The report reads: “Students listen up! If you are used to passing notes, tapping out texts or even sneaking in quick conversations when you’re supposed to be working on fractions…beware! Those kinds of activities could be a thing of the past – or at the very least, closely monitored – in the biometric classroom of the future.”
Sean Montgomery, co-founder and engineer for SensorStar Labs, says tracking students’ eye movements, conversations and smiles with “EngageSense” cameras will help teachers improve classroom learning. Algorithms in the program will crunch the raw visual and audio data to give teachers detailed information on students’ actions. Teachers will then be advised on how to better engage students.
“When the student is looking up at the teacher, the teacher score goes up. If she looks down at the computer, the computer score goes up. So we’re tracking facial expressions. If she makes a smile, it might be indicative that is enthusiastic about the topic,” said Montgomery.
When asked about the privacy implications of such an intrusive technology, Montgomery defended the program by claiming that the usefulness somehow outweighed any privacy concern in typical “ends justify the means” fashion.
“I think privacy is a very serious issue that we need to consider carefully going forward and in the future but the idea here is that the information is being digested and presented in a useful way so the teacher can react and respond appropriately,” said Montgomery. “I think in five years, this is going to be in classrooms.”
Despite the endless claims of technology leading to an increased “learning” experience in the classroom, studies have found just the opposite. After spending $33 million on interactive screens, laptops and high-end software, a school district in Arizona saw no improvement in test scores as the rest of the state’s scores rose.