China Rolls Out Program That Uses Cameras and Facial Recognition to Ensure Students Pay Attention

China Rolls Out Program That Uses Cameras and Facial Recognition to Ensure Students Pay Attention

With things like Smart Boards and connected lecterns becoming commonplace in classrooms at almost all levels, the way teachers work continues to evolve rapidly as technology continues to advance. China is taking it to another level, though, using a system called "Smart Eyes" that employs cameras and facial recognition to give a teacher real-time feedback on students.

I remember the first time I ever felt old was when I was teaching a calculus course. The first day of class, a technician came in and began turning on eight televisions mounted around the room. I asked him what he was doing and he told me he was setting the smart system, where students could watch me from anywhere in the room and I could present interactive math content. I launched into a "get off my lawn" tirade and chased him out of the room. The real question is: how mad would I have been had he installed the "Smart Eyes" system being tested in China right now? 

Hangzhou Number 11 High School in the Zhejiang Province has been testing the system, which uses cameras and facial recognition software to provide teachers with real-time data on a student's mood, which is categorized in seven ways, ranging from "antipathy" to "happy." The idea that with time-linked data on a student's engagement, teachers can analyze exactly where children became bored or lost interest in a lesson or teaching method and modify their teaching accordingly. It's a very interesting idea that could go a lot of ways depending on the final iteration of the tech and how teachers and students embrace it. 

Lead image by 祝 鹤槐, used under Creative Commons. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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And this is how we're further training ourselves to be less able to interact with each other and to develop social skills.

It doesn't take a genius to look around the room and determine what a student's mood is, or how engaged they are, or if they're confused or if they're understanding the material. Now, it is hard for some people, but if you're going to go through the trouble of becoming a teacher (all the education/training), then you need to also be wise enough to invest some time in becoming emotionally intelligent and learning to read people.

Also, there's going to be a lot of students who will never enjoy the classroom, nor be engaged. It's a simple fact. Many kids/adults are doing it specifically for the goal; the degree. They're not doing it for the education. In the end, it's on the student to be motivated to learn. They're the final one responsible for their emotions. I can do everything I can to make my material as inspiring, engaging, and motivational as possible, but it's not gonna engage every student. That will never happen.

Why do they need cameras for that? I guess it's always obvious to teacher when students do not pay attention. It's more about training kids that government is watching you starting from school!