each and every classroom of the school.olice are scanning travelers with facial recognition glasses, law enforcement agencies are using the technology to monitor ethnic minorities — and now the Orwellian technology has a new target: students! In March this year, Hangzhou Number 11 High School in east China, set up a “smart classroom behavior management system” (or “smart eye”) in one of its class. The smart eye utilizes facial recognition technology to keep an eye on school students, and by this summer end, administrators plan to set up the Big Brother-like system in
Here’s how it works. Every half a minute, 3 video cameras installed in the front of the classroom scan each kid’s face to identify their expression: stunned, antipathy, sad, angry, scared, delighted, or neutral.
The smart cameras also record each student’s actions throughout the class, keeping in record whether they are listening, reading, writing, raising hands, standing, or leaning on the desk.
The smart eye then informs the instructor in real-time if it notices that a student appears sidetracked. The instructor can also view a report at the end of the class that offers an average of each student’s expressions.
The school’s headmaster, Ni Ziyuan, told Chinese-government-run news site Hangzhou that the objective behind utilizing the smart eye is to assist teachers to improve based on student responses. Which sounds positive. However, that’s not the entire story. Students are also graded on how well they are paying attention.
“Those children who concentrate on lectures will be marked with an A, while students who let their minds roam will be marked with a B,” Ni informed Hangzhou.
The Chinese education system is already notoriously demanding of students, and as one student informed Hangzhou, the smart eye system contributes to the pressure: “I do not dare be distracted since the cameras were installed in the class. It’s like a pair of mystery eyes are continuously watching me.”
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The difference between an A and a B can have significant consequences for some students, when they feel they have actually fallen short of academic expectations, students’ mental health can suffer.
“They are not studying machines. Any human will have moments when their mind wanders,” one commenter wrote on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, in referral to the smart eye system.
Utilizing security to catch criminals is one thing. However to basically aim to turn students into learning machines? That may just end up hurting China’s residents in the long run.