Colleges are turning students’ phones into surveillance machines

U.S. colleges can track hundreds of thousands of students using short-range phone sensors and campus-wide Wi-Fi networks to assess their academic performance, monitor their conduct, or rate their mental health. Academicians and education advocates are concerned such monitoring and supervision will infantilize students and make them accept surveillance as a normal part of life. The schools rely on networks of Bluetooth transmitters and wireless access points to piece together students’ movements. School and technology company officials say location tracking allows schools to intervene before problems crop up, but some institutions calculate “risk scores” based on factors such as how often pupils visit the library. Critics contend such policies could undermine student independence and discourage non-academic pursuits. The University of California, San Diego’s Erin Rose Glass said, “We’re reinforcing this sense of powerlessness … when we could be asking harder questions, like: why are we creating institutions where students don’t want to show up?”

The systems highlight how widespread surveillance has increasingly become a fact of life: Students “should have all the rights, responsibilities and privileges that an adult has. So why do we treat them so differently?”

— Read on www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/12/24/colleges-are-turning-students-phones-into-surveillance-machines-tracking-locations-hundreds-thousands/

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