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How AI & facial rec could abolish schools' daily roll calls

26 Feb 2019
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Soon there could be no need for teachers in New Zealand to do the daily roll call – and no need for students to come up with creative ways of saying ‘here’.

AI technology and facial recognition could one day change all of that – by tracking when students arrive and leave the campus grounds, and even providing real time data to parents and teachers for safety and truancy purposes.

According to Aware Group CEO Brandon Hutcheson, AI has the potential to wipe out one of the most time-consuming administration tasks at education institutes.

“On average a student will spend around 3 minutes per class waiting for their attendance to be taken. If we look at this across 13 years in education this can amount to over 122 days lost per student,” says Hutcheson.

“As well as being the foundation for funding in Education, proving attendance is an important statistic for providing pastoral care through to building development. But in its basic form, all it does is prove we are, where we are.”

Of course, Hutcheson says this must be done with consideration for the highest privacy levels but there are other trade offs too.

“Discussions still need to take place regarding the impact on the student experience because simply automating attendance registration may have other effects, be it using roll time to teach students’ patience on the mat, learning classmates’ names and the inclusion of Te Reo.”

While Hutcheson doesn’t mention any real-world rollouts of such AI tech, he can see a clear path to implementation.

“The solution will be implemented within the tertiary sector first with trials in place and after further consultation with the Ministry of Education, boards of trustees, teachers, parents and students, it will be considered for primary and secondary education, as the wider discussion about parent and student consent needs to take place.

“The benefits across the sector are significant, from freeing up valuable time, saving money, improving security, and supporting parents and caregivers.  It will also help address the growing issue of truancy and its associated costs including policing, social services and the courts.”

AI and computer tracking also has the potential to provide the Ministry of Education data about tertiary institutions and how to develop policy or funding decisions.

“AI technology has a huge role to play in helping the tertiary education sector be more efficient by ensuring monitoring of facility usage is optimised and then using this data to deliver better student outcomes,” Hutcheson continues.

“Using AI in this way, is a very good example of technology replacing a mundane task so as to allow a more valuable activity to occur - adopting this technology to automate registers will change the dynamic of each school day and should bring significant benefits for all involved from each student, to the Government.”