Biometrics In Schools: 4 Ways Biometric Data Can Be Used To Enhance Learning

The Rise Of Biometrics In Schools: How They Can Be Used

Beyond gradebooks and report cards, school districts nowadays have access to a suite of tools that can give them unprecedented insight into how students are engaging with the class material. How? Biometric data.

With the advent of popular wearable technology such as Fitbits and smartwatches, health-conscious individuals have found new ways to track their progress towards a healthy life — from monitoring their heart rate to tracking their weight. Furthermore, fingerprint and iris scanners are becoming standard features in smartphones. In either instance, this information is known as “biometrics,” and the applications of this information in the medical world are obvious.

But how can biometrics be used in the classroom? How can monitoring and scanning students improve education? Here are 4 examples of how biometric data can be used to enhance learning:

1. More Efficient Time Usage

Biometric data can streamline many administrative processes that typically consume a good deal of class time. Attendance, for example, can automatically be inferred by fingerprint scanners at the door or via cameras in the classroom. This can save anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes per class session, or approximately 10 hours of wasted instruction time over the course of a school year.

Not only can this technology assess when a student is absent, it can log exactly how much time they missed. Using this information, instructors will know precisely what missed class material needs to be taught or condensed for each person. Online learners can also catch up using the same principle — all they need to do communicate with the instructor. This will ensure greater parity between students and more enriching classroom discussions/collaboration.

2. Keeping Students Safe

One of the most obvious applications of biometrics in schools is the use of scanners for security purposes. Verifying an individual’s fingerprint or iris to authenticate their identity is an effective way of keeping students and faculty out of harm’s way. These can also prove to be helpful in other areas where students are expected to go throughout the school day, such as the cafeteria.

When a suspicious individual attempts to enter the school, scanners can prevent them from doing so. In a worst-case scenario, surveillance cameras can recognize when an unauthorized person has entered the premises and automatically engage lockdown protocols.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips can also be used to track the locations of students. Ensuring learners—especially young students—arrive at school and get back home safely becomes substantially easier with the help of RFID technology.

3. A Better Understanding Of Student Engagement

Biosensors, including infrared and surveillance cameras, can be used to make inferences about student engagement, as well as identify behavioral problems. Observations about their behavior—such as eye contact, interactions with other students, and body language—can convey a lot about how a learner is interpreting the class material. Using Big Data, these records can help instructors when a learner may be losing interest, when they may need assistance, or if there are any distractions in the room.

This information can help instructors personalize the curriculum to meet the needs of each student. It can let teachers know which strategies are most likely to spark engagement, and it can be a particularly useful method of assessing the efficacy of new educational technologies, though there are ethical considerations with Big Data collection in K12 schools.

4. Ensuring Academic Integrity

Accurate assessment results is an essential component of education; it allows school districts and instructors to evaluate the progress of each individual, as well as their own abilities as educators. When the integrity of our means of assessment is threatened, it can pose a serious threat to meeting educational goals.

Technology is a double-edged sword in education. In order to meet the educational needs of students in the modern era, a large variety of hardware and software is necessary. Unfortunately, cybersecurity vulnerabilities can allow hackers (sometimes students themselves) to either alter grades or access unauthorized resources during assessments. This is especially true for online learners, since the lack of the physical presence of an instructor can open the door to ethically dubious behavior.

Biometric scanners can reduce the severity of this problem by authenticating the identity of users, preventing them from accessing unauthorized records or cheating during evaluations. They are often used at testing centers, though many online programs require that students have a webcam so that they can be monitored during assessments — a process called “webcam proctoring.”

These are a few of the applications that biometrics have in education. It is clear that it can enhance learning, and the future will see even more revolutionary uses of this data. What are your thoughts about these developments? Do you have ethical concerns about how much data K12 schools collect? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.