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New Technology Leads to Attendance Battle

Photo By Debora Wenger
Photo By Debora Wenger

Students and teachers at odds over new scanner attendance technology

Daisy Strudwick, Ole Miss Liberal Arts Major

Email Daisy Strudwick at  mlstrudw@go.olemiss.edu

The addition of student ID scanners in classrooms at Ole Miss has left some teachers and students at odds with the new attendance technology.

“They should be taken out,” said Caroline Whorton, a sophomore integrated marketing communications major. “End of story.”

What Whorton doesn’t like is one part of the new Freshman-Attendance Based Intervention (FABI) program, which Ole Miss implemented to instill good habits in freshman students. The scanners monitor how many times a student has missed class, and then the university alerts students if they have missed three or more classes.

According to the Ole Miss Office of Technology’s blog, some professors feel that this is by far the best way to monitor attendance. Attendance in FABI classes has increased since the program was created in 2001, and officials say the implementation of scanners has helped even more.

Dr. Nancy Wicker teaches Art History 101 and has her students use the scanners.

“In a class of this size, it is difficult to encourage students to show up every day, especially at 8 a.m.,” said Wicker. “The scanners turn on at 7:45 a.m. and this encourages the students to arrive on time in order to not have to wait in line.
For classes that do take attendance, the scanners may cut down on “attendance fraud,” especially in large lecture classes. In the past, students would sign the names of missing students on attendance lists so that their friends would not be penalized for missing class.

“The scanners also increase teaching time since I don’t have to take time out of class to take attendance,” said Wicker.

In Physical Science 108, attendance is not mandatory, but Dr. Breese Quinn still has his students scan their ID’s in at the beginning of class, but he doesn’t track the information himself.

“They are more for the administrators to send you emails to remind you to come to class,” said Quinn.

There are currently 15 lecture classrooms equipped with this technology. According to the university’s Chief Information Officer Kathy Gates, the ID Center also looked into other methods, but none seemed to be as effective.

“We considered having students check in with their cell phones,” said Gates. “But some teachers don’t want cell phones to be a part of the solution because it encourages students to use their phones in class.”

Whorton believes that the system is flawed and needs to be abolished.

“It gets annoying and it makes people not want to come to class because it is that annoying,” said Whorton. “And a lot of people scan them and leave and still get credit for it.”

On the other hand, sophomore biology major Cristina Leis says scanning her ID does not really bother her because she does not skip class. However, she also feels that with age comes responsibility.

“I think its good, but I think it should just be for freshman and they should work out all the bugs before they’re put in more classes,” said Leis. “I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ 22….ain’t nobody got time for that.

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