Technology is all around us and school colleges are not exception to that. We are moving towards a world of connected devices and it will be great to see how RFID for school will shape future education and Kids’ safety.
Though RFID automation is very much in infancy, giants like Siemens predicts RFID will make a large impact. Tagging school children with RFID tags is uncommon but not new. According to a survey in 2016, smart schools have already started using RFID technology to track school buses, for automating school attendance by embedding RFID chip student ID-Card, smart payments for cafeteria, library automation and also to monitor locations and security systems among other things.
Possible RFID Applications?
Smart automatic attendance using RFID chip is one of possible and most common use of RFID for School. An RFID chip could be embedded in a student’s ID card, school bag or uniform and can be tracked. To take it next level, multiple day to day activities like “how students move through the school during the day, who do they study with? Who do they play with at recess? If they are not crossing safe zones, if there are potential chances of eve teasing, if children are in campus but missing in class, if teacher is there in class or not”. Certainly RFID system if implemented on such scale will improve efficiency, accountability and security.
“One day soon, home room teachers in your local middle and high schools may stop scanning rows of desks and making each student yell out ‘Here!’ during a morning roll call. Instead, small cards, or tags, carried by each student will transmit a unique serial number via radio signal to an electronic reader near the school door,” AT&T says in its RFID-student advertising materials.
Other uses can be wearables like RFID heat bands that reports brain activities to a connected server or mobile app for further analysis and analytics collected can be used by teachers for better student engagement and track learning styles.
RFID can eliminate the need of pocket money for students as Id-Card embedded with RFID chip can act as a wallet and used for cafeteria payments. Parents can track eating habits of their children.
RFID labels also replacing barcodes in school libraries as RFID integration can automate complete process combining RFID label in Books, ID-Card and Anti-Theft RFID pillars. RFID school attendance might be another use case.
Issues and Challenges
Privacy groups are wary. It’s a topic of debate “Should we be tracking our students at such a granular level?”. Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre says “We don’t think kids in schools should be treated like cattle. We generally don’t like it. My take on RFID is it’s fine for products, but not so much for people. That’s one of the places where the lines need to be drawn”. But there are dozens of companies who are in no mood to define any such line. Security and personal privacy issue exists with other connected devices as well like mobiles and RFID for school tracking is no exception.
Digital divide is another issue. Developed and rich countries are accepting such solutions very progressively while the acceptance rate is very slow in developing countries like India and other Asian African countries. This digital device can change the learning environment and give advance countries or say wealthier students an edge over the others.
Internet connectivity reach also limits the use of RFID technology in schools at many places.
There are questions about whether human health might be affected in environments where the RFID devices emitting radiations.