You’re not paying attention !

Busting students using facial recognition software.


I always walk around the classroom when I teach.

Couple of reasons: it  burns off some nervous energy and it lets me peek at students’ computer screens.

The latter is the the acid test of attentiveness.


If I see one or two students checking email or sports scores, I figure it’s their problem and they move to the front of the queue for cold call questions.

If I see a lot of students “digitally distracted”, I figure that it’s my problem and I’ve got to adjust … e.g. shift out of lecture mode and into discussion mode.

That’s pretty straightforward in the classroom.

But, how to know if students are paying attention when they’re being beamed material online?


According to The Verge

ESG, a business school in Paris, will soon begin using artificial intelligence and facial analysis to determine whether students are paying attention during online classes.

The software – called Nestor — uses students’ webcams to analyze eye movements and facial expressions and determine whether students are paying attention to a video lecture.

The information is summarized for professors so that they can determine whether the periods of inattentiveness are isolated to a handful of students or spread across most of the class.

If the latter, the profs have the opportunity to tune-up their material or their pedagogical approach.

What about the students who are just digital slackers?

Nestor is able to use the data to individualize quizzes and tests.

English translation: The software is able to skew test questions towards the material that was covered “during moments of student inattentiveness.”

Boom: problem solved.

That is, unless the students put tape over their laptop’s camera.

Gee, isn’t technology great?



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