Watching You: University Of Missouri Requiring Students To Download Tracking App

COLUMBIA, MO/USA – JUNE 8 , 2018: Hearnes Center Arena on the campus of the University of Missouri.

Students at the University of Missouri will have a tougher time getting away with skipping classes.

According to a report in the Kansas City Star, Mizzou is requiring students to download an app called Spotter on their cell phones. This will allow the university to keep track of attendance. The report also states that “hidden technology” is also being used.

However, some critics say that monitoring students through cell phones is an invasion of student privacy.

“We have deep privacy concerns about this,” Sara Baker, American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri policy director, told the Kansas City Star. Baker also stated that the app makes her question “what sort of privacy rights students might be giving up to attend public universities.”

University officials say, however, the athletic department has been using this tracking app over the past four years for all freshmen athletes, as well as any athlete in “academic trouble.”

SpotterEDU was developed by former Missouri Tigers basketball coach Rick Carter. It utilizes Wi-Fi networks on campus and short-range phone sensors to keep tabs on students who are skipping class.

“A student will have to participate in the recording of attendance,” Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies at Mizzou, told the Kansas City Star.

According to university officials, every student involved will be told ahead of time that attendance is being monitored. Spain said Mizzou will even work with students who don’t have a cell phone to ensure their participation.

This reporter’s former professor at Syracuse University, Jeffrey Rubin, says that this app has helped him and his students. For clarification, this reporter did not have to use this app while a student of Rubin’s.

“SpotterEDU has provided immense benefit to my class,” Rubin wrote as a testimonial on Spotter’s website. “In a class of 300 students, it was simply not possible to track attendance. With Spotter, not only can I track attendance, but I can reach out to students who are missing class. Since using Spotter, attendance has gone way up in class, and students who were at risk, by not attending class, are able to turn their semester around.”

Aside from Mizzou and Syracuse, professors at Duke University, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Virginia Commonwealth University are also using Spotter.