U.S. Colleges Testing Out Location Tracking Apps On Students’ Cell Phones

A recent discovery revealed that some U.S. colleges are allegedly testing out a location tracking app on their students’ phones. Tracking apps have been  extremely useful with many unique features, but are constantly under scrutiny for their misuse. Colleges are looking to use these tracking apps to make sure that students are attending their classes. This will help reduce student absences, but how is it possible to get all college students to download the app and agree to its terms? 

The University of Missouri and SpotterEDU

Many questions arise with this discussion of tracking students through their mobile devices. Such as, what if the student does not have a smartphone? Or how will they enforce the installation of the app for all of the students? We have seen some schools already applying these tracking apps for students.

According to The University of Missouri, all new students “won’t be given a choice” and will have to download the app called SpotterEDU. This app uses the Bluetooth signal, not GPS signal, from the mobile device that can help track where the student is in the classroom. However, it may not work outside the class.

This app is not only used at The University of Missouri, but the app is also used at over 40 schools in the U.S. already. According to the Washington Post, the app has been proven to be extremely useful as one Syracuse professor stated that the classroom has never been so full, with over 90% of students in the class with perfect attendance. 

Other apps are being developed that are similar, but use Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth. The idea of tracking students is becoming almost normal in many schools around the U.S. It is crazy to think that schools are going to be able to track and learn more about student’s behavior through apps and technology.

Are These Apps Effective?

Often, these tracking apps are accessing Wi-Fi or Bluetooth signals of these mobile devices to help track students. We have seen a few apps that use actual GPS signals from these devices that give a significantly more accurate result than only using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Using the GPS signal from a device will be able to determine the current location to almost the exact location of the device. This will also assist school officials in locating students when they are not in the classroom. We have seen this already performed in Chinese schools using smart uniforms

The Main Concern With These Apps 

The main concern when it comes to using tracking apps of any kind is privacy. Many students may see the required download of SpotterEDU and apps like it as an invasion of privacy. And even if the students’ download the app and agree to its terms & conditions, what guarantee is there that  their data will secure and not collected by the school? People have seen big companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook collect users’ data secretly. Students’ data privacy is something colleges and universities must take into consideration before enacting location tracking apps on a school-wide scale. 

These tracking apps are going to change the way teachers can monitor their students. It will be much easier to locate students when they are not in the classroom and hopefully increase school attendance. The future of technology is continuing to grow, and with the tracking of students becoming normalized, it will be harder for students to opt-out of being tracked by schools. 

Related Post: How Universities and Colleges Spy On Student Devices

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