Majority of VCU students refuse to participate in Wi-Fi tracking program

Majority of VCU students refuse to participate in Wi-Fi tracking program

The $96,000 system at Virginia Commonwealth University launched before Thanksgiving

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Edited by Beryl Lipton

Nearly 60 percent of the 4,047 students targeted for a Virginia Commonwealth University Wi-Fi tracking pilot program refused to participate, according to documents released by VCU.

The university began tracking attendance through the Wi-Fi on students’ phones and other devices in November after entering a $96,000, one-year agreement with vendor Degree Analytics.

VCU is using the software as part of a pilot program called RAM Attend. Three sections of freshmen and sophomore students were slated for inclusion. Of those, 2,414 opted out through a webpage offered by the university, leaving 1,633 students whose Wi-Fi signal could be tracked through any device used to register with VCU’s wireless network.

An additional 3,249 opt-outs came from students who had not been singled out for participation in the program, bringing the total number of VCU students rejecting Wi-Fi tracking to 5,842.

The university has said the goal behind the system is to increase student retention. “Academic advisors and faculty already depend on progress reports and mid-term grades to help students recognize and overcome challenges in their courses,” the university said on a webpage explaining the program. “They can do the same by identifying patterns in class attendance.”

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Image via Virginia Commonwealth University