- Title: JAPAN: University gives students iPhones to check students' attendance
- Date: 28th May 2009
- Summary: STUDENT HOLDING IPHONE STUDENTS SITTING ON BENCH WITH IPHONES PODCAST ON IPHONE SHOWING MATH CLASS STUDENT TAKING NOTES STUDENTS SITTING OUTSIDE ON BENCH
- Embargoed: 12th June 2009 13:00
- Location: Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Communications
- Reuters ID: LVA1LU3V9J1QB4LHWNYIJI1XDQSY
- Story Text: While most schools would like to ban mobile phones in class, one university in Japan is actually giving iPhones away for free to its students as a way to check up on their attendance and also provide them with podcast video clips of lectures they may have missed.
The project which formally launches in June begins with 550 first and second year students and staff of the Aoyama Gakuin (pronounced Ah-oh-yah-mah Gah-koo-een) University's Social Information Department and is expected to extend to the whole 1,000 strong department by next year.
While utlimately the school's iPhones are meant to create a mobile information network between students and professors, it has also shown to be a very convenient way for the teachers to take attendance in class.
As students enter the room, instead of writing their name on an attendance sheet, they simply type in their ID number and a specific class number into an iPhone application and their attendance is registered.
To prevent students from logging in at home or outside classes, the applet uses a combination of GPS location data and checks which router the students have logged in to.
Yasuhiro IIjima (pronounced Yah-soo-hee-roh Ee'ee-jee-mah) , a professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, says the system is a win-win situation for both teachers and students.
"We don't want to use this to simply take attendance. Our hope is to use this to develop a classroom where students and teachers can discuss various topics," he told Reuters as he demonstrated the iPhone in a test class set up for Reuters ahead of the official launch.
While today's demonstration involved only a handful of students, the application is meant to work with classes of over a hundred students or more and organisers insist this is not a "Big Brother" application meant to check up on the where-abouts of the students.
"With Japanese cellphones it's possible to automatically sent location data. However, with the iPhone, one must always confirm before GPS data can be sent," Iijima said.
In other words, the students would have to actively want to tell the school where they were at any given moment.
Students in the test group say the benefits are very apparent and overall environmentally friendly.
"Up until now, we've been using little slips of paper to take attendance. But with a cell phone, you don't have to spend time collecting all of those and so I think it's quite nice," 20-year-old student Yuki Maruya (pronounced Yu-kee Mah-roo-yah) told Reuters.
And while checking attendance is fine, most students agree that they wouldn't want to be tracked outside of school.
"It's fine if my location is checked while in class, but if my location is known elsewhere, such as at night and such, there could be privacy problems. But overall, I think it's a good system." added Yuuta Fujii (pronounced Yoo-tah Foo-jee'ee), another 20 year old student.
And for those that missed classes, or just can't quite remember what went on in one, the University hopes to provide video podcasts to help students catch up.
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