A Double-edged Electronic Attendance System
A Double-edged Electronic Attendance System
  • Park Bae Hyewon
  • 승인 2009.12.17 17:32
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Sookmyungians take a skeptical view about the system of electronic attendance whose purposes are originated from the condensation of unnecessary class time, and the convenience of attending a class.  However, there are increasing numbers of students abusing the system to be easily attended by close friends.  Hence, the Sookmyung Time (SMT) has the time to re-engrave re-engrave a sincere meaning of ‘attendance’ and a reasonable attitude and resolution to the system as an intellectual in the society.

-The Background of Appearing the Electronic Attendance System

Sookmyung Women’s University (SMU) introduced the system of electronic attendance appeared from 2005.  Under the control, it provides Sookmyungians with convenience of attendance and the comfortable management to students’ attendance and the curtailment of class time.  Also, many universities have introduced the same system; therefore, a ubiquitous campus, which President Young-sil Han promoted for school, signifies a place embodying a new kind of service by means of a basis of information technology.  A ubiquitous campus has been accelerated by the introduction of the electronic system.

-The Effectiveness of the Electronic Attendance System

As many Sookmyungians know, every minute in their lecture connects to tuition fees.  They are often sensitive to the tuition and the quality of lectures.  If a professor checks students’ name one by one at every class, it will sometimes waste too much time.  For example, there is a lecture including over one hundred students, and a professor calls everyone’s name.  Then, it squanders away both students’ money and time.  Kim Hyung-muk, a freshman in Kyung hee University said, “Students don’t need to wait for the time until a professor call their name.  And the more students a class has, the more effective this system becomes.”  Considering this situation, SMU introduced a new system, electronic attendance.  There were some problems suggested like an abuse of unconscionable students, equity and justness; however, the school passed the careful decisions that the advantages overwhelmed the disadvantages and installed systems and machines.

First of all, many students mention the ineffectiveness of the system and complain about the school’s unnecessary spending, but the expenses on students’ welfare and the scholarship are gradually increasing.  Therefore, there would be no disadvantages to students.  In other words, the installation of the system would not influence negatively on the students’ welfare and the quality of lectures.  In contrast, it has affected on the positive side.  It shortens the wasteful time and builds up the perfect atmosphere to let students be absorbed in their class.  Jang, a student in the College of Law, said, “There are some problems about this system, but I believe it curtails some useless time.”

More surprising, managing one’s own attendance is a piece of cake via the Internet.  SMU’s electronic attendance system is directly connected with the Internet.  Students hardly remember all the attendance, absence, and lateness during one semester, but this problem is solved.  Students’ hardly remember all the situation of attendance before; they must visit their professors to make sure.  But now, SMU attempted to develop their system and induced a new ‘mobile campus’ system contracting with KT and playing the same role with a student ID card.  Kim, a student in the Division of Communications, said, “Leaving behind other problems, the only reason why I like this system is convenience.”  Professors easily place responsibility on their assistants to control, and concentrate more on other studies.  Some students stated the effectiveness is low because professors still check their own students by themselves.  Taking a broad view, the effectiveness is comparatively higher than they anticipated.  One, professors gain higher academic achievement.  Why? Because they don’t need to check all the students one by one in the last minute of a semester and can reflect all attendance soon.  For students, they can easily check straight to avoid the negative effect on their own grade. 

Inversely, there are professors who find out runaway students during a break.  It is because they have already recognized the misuse of students.  For preventing abuse, they unexpectedly check whether the number of attendants is same as that of whole students in the class.

-The Darkside of Electronic Attendance System

In spite of the intent of introducing electronic attendance system, some side effects have also occurred.  In the online BBS (Bulletin Board System) of SMU, ID; mercury27 wrote, “As each class applies a different attendance system, it’s easy to forget to check my attendance in class which is using the electronic attendance system.  Though I attended the class, if I don’t have any evidence verifying my attendance, I finally got a disadvantage of absence,” explaining irrationality which even damages students who attended their class on time.  Technical defects or systematic errors often damage the original intent of the system, wasting lesson time when professors check students’ attendance again.  ID; davidoff0210 wrote, “Sometimes the machine does not operate well and its reactions are too slow.  In the case, when students check their attendance with the machine, students wait in a long line and classes often start late.  Finally, professors manage every student as attendance state or take other way to check students’ attendance like calling the roll.  The system bothers classes occasionally relating to technical errors in the electronic attendance system.”  Concerning this matter, Jung Donghye in Office of Information and Communications Affairs “Office of Information and Communications Affairs installed extra machine which perceives not only plastic ID card but also mobile student’s ID card to extend method of checking attendance.  And also, we complement defects of the machine through development of security system, expansion of server and stabilizing terminal to offer good service to students” said.

Not only SMU, but most of universities which have introduced the system suffer the side effects from students’ abuse.  Choi Jongsook, the sophomore in Hanyang University said, “It is effective that the system reduces time to call the roll.  But as some students go out after checking their attendance, students don’t trust their grade about attendance.”  The faculty council in Yeungnam University “After introducing electronic attendance system, proxies are remarkably increased who check other’s attendance.  objections like, ‘I did not check my attendance because I forgot my student identification card’ the system makes obscure .”  Roh Sookyung, 「Lots of Problem in Electronic Attendance System」, 「Yeungdae objections Shinmoon」, 2007.09.03

-The Role of Calling the Roll

Past calling the roll was the only way professors could recognize students’ names and face in classes without close interchange between students and professors.  The electronic attendance system may cut off the moment of interchange.  But as the diminished moment, professors and students can make more close relationships in their classes.  A Class is a kind of appointment between professors and students.  Although not every student who participates in every class on time has a good attitude or grade in their class, checking attendance could be a kind of confirming their sincerity.  After introducing the electronic attendance system, for more effective managing of this confirmation, like students’ abuse, many side effects have occurred.  Is it just the system’s fault?

W.F Ogburne, American sociologist, defined ‘cultural lag’ in which non-material culture like standards of values, conventions or social perceptions drop out compared to development of material culture like technology.  And Ogburne emphasized people’s awakening.  Similarly, before telling the right and wrong about electronic attendance system, checking responsibility and manners of users, professors and students, is more important.

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