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    Arizona Republic: Skipping class? NAU high-tech system will know

    The Arizona Republic reports that Northern Arizona University will soon begin using wireless ID card reader technology (likely RFID, but the article doesn’t say) to track student attendance in classes.

    This fall, the university plans to begin equipping classrooms on the Flagstaff campus with technology that will “read” a student’s ID when he or she enters the classroom. The readers are so sensitive that students won’t even have to take their IDs out of their pockets, said David Bousquet, NAU’s vice president of enrollment management and student affairs.

    The card readers, estimated to cost a total of $75,000 and paid for by federal stimulus funds, will be phased in. Eventually, Bousquet wants to install card readers in all classrooms that seat 50 or more students. Each faculty member could decide whether to use the system.

    NAU President John Haeger said he wants to improve student retention.

    A growing body of research suggests that attendance is a key factor in class success and that good grades can motivate students to remain in school. Students who make it through the first year of college are less likely to drop out later. […]

    But the proposal is already generating debate among students, some of whom say the university is going too far by introducing a “Big Brother” system to record attendance. […]

    Rachel Brackett, 19, an NAU sophomore who started the Facebook group, said her chief objection is that the change will rob students of a valuable life lesson. “My biggest problem is we are here at college to learn to become adults,” she said. “I don’t think we’re all there maturitywise, but choosing to go to class is a stepping stone in maturity.”

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