VCU to Track Student Attendance Using WiFi Monitoring

Empty college classroom
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Virginia Commonwealth University announced this month that it will be tracking student attendance by monitoring when they connect to the campus WiFi service.

According to a report by The College Fix, VCU has announced that they plan to track student attendance by monitoring when and where they log into the campus WiFi system.

The system, which is called VCU Ram Attend, will log each time that a student connects to the WiFi access point closest to their classroom.

On the website for the new system, VCU claims that they “value the privacy” of their students. The system, VCU claims, will only log student WiFi connections when they are near classroom access points. Additionally, monitoring will only occur while classes are in session.

VCU greatly values the privacy of its students and employees. RAM Attend uses only device connections to VCU SafeNet Wireless network access points that serve the classrooms while participating classes are in session.  It does not use connection data from access points outside the designated classrooms or while participating classes are not in session. It does not use cellular, Bluetooth or GPS data. We have taken multiple steps to ensure the security of the attendance data. Students may choose to opt-out of this pilot.

VCU spokesperson Mike Porter claims that the program will initially only be rolled out in three courses so that the technology can be tested.

“The three Focused Inquiry courses were selected because all Focused Inquiry instructors currently take attendance. The pilot allows us to test the accuracy of the technology attendance tool by comparing it to the attendance information already collected by instructors,” Porter said in a short comment.

Students are permitted to opt out of the program. Students had until November 21 to opt out if they didn’t want to participate in the pilot testing of the VCU Ram Attend system.

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