Face recognition technology in classrooms is here – and that’s ok

Recently, the Victorian Government brought in new rules stating Victorian state schools will be banned from using facial recognition technology in classrooms unless they have the approval of parents, students and the Department of Education.

Students may be justifiably horrified at the thought of being monitored as they move throughout the school during the day. But a roll marking system could be as simple as looking at a tablet or iPad once a day instead of being signed off on a paper roll. It simply depends on the implementation.

Trials have already begun in independent schools in NSW and up to 100 campuses across Australia. According to the developers, the technology promises to save teachers up to 2.5 hours a week by replacing the need for them to mark the roll at the start of every class.

Many students now have smart phones that recognise faces right now. There are also downloadable face recognition apps for Android phones and iPhones. So face recognition is already in our schools.

And I argue that, like earlier technologies such as the motor vehicle and mobile phone, a strategy where adoption is managed to create the most good and least harm is appropriate. We shouldn’t simply ban it.

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