University to Take Attendance With RFID Chips

Posted by Nikhil Swaminathan

Northern Arizona University is taking steps to curb its drop-out rate. One of its ideas: Making attendance part of the final grade in classes largely taken by freshmen and sophomores.

Given that some of these classes no doubt have hundreds of people in it, how will they efficiently call roll? They're going to install proximity card readers to RFID chips planted in students' ID cards.

Some students are up-in-arms about the idea, and privacy experts support their outrage. According to a story in Government Technology magazine:

[T[he backlash is already viral. A student-created Facebook page opposing the plan, "NAU Against Proximity Cards," had nearly 1,500 members as of Wednesday, May 5. "I feel it violates our rights as students to choose whether or not to go to class and control our own success," the page's description reads. "Plus, it allows the school to keep track of our whereabouts in a ‘Big Brother' way."

The intent behind the proposed system is no doubt noble: Keeping kids in school. But, is this high tech solution going a bit too far?

Photo (cc) via Flickr user Kiet Callies