Because kids have no right to hide their thoughts from adults, the Chicago Tribune reports:
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured more than $4 billion into efforts to transform public education in the U.S., is pushing to develop an “engagement pedometer.” Biometric devices wrapped around the wrists of students would identify which classroom moments excite and interest them — and which fall flat.
The foundation has given $1.4 million in grants to several university researchers to begin testing the devices in middle-school classrooms this fall.
The biometric bracelets, produced by Affectiva Inc, send a small current across the skin and then measure subtle changes in electrical charges as the sympathetic nervous system responds to stimuli. The wireless devices have been used in pilot tests to gauge consumers’ emotional response to advertising.
Gates officials hope the devices, known as Q Sensors, can become a common classroom tool, enabling teachers to see, in real time, which kids are tuned in and which are zoned out. To truly improve teaching and learning, Debbie Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Gates Foundation said, “we need universal, valid, reliable and practical instruments” such as the biosensors.
Skeptics call the technology creepy and say good teachers already know when their students are engaged. Plus, they say it’s absurd to think spikes in teenagers’ emotional arousal necessarily correspond to learning.
The engagement pedometer project fits neatly with the Gates Foundation’s emphasis on mining daily classroom interactions for data. One of the world’s richest philanthropies, the foundation reflects Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ interest in developing data collection and analysis techniques that can predict which teachers and teaching styles will be most effective.