As the mobile phone is the accessory of choice, Aomori University has hit upon the idea of using everyone’s favourite companion to ensure that students attend classes. Which in Japan is especially important as attendance (or a lack of it) can affect grades.
At the beginning of every class, the students are given a number that they must then send by e-mail to a university administrator. Then (and this is the clever part) the administrator will send a reply to between 5 and 10 students who have claimed to be present, with those receiving the response having to stand up and give their name to the teacher. The random nature of this selection process hopefully deterring students from passing on the necessary number to absent friends.
Despite this process having the potential to eat into class time, and giving students a legitimate excuse to surreptitiously send mail during a class, the university seems very happy about its new system. An administrator said, “We’re probably the first university in the country to introduce a mobile phone-based attendance record system for its students. It prevents loopholes that allow students to claim they’ve attended class when they really haven’t.” And perhaps rather optimistically he added, “We hope it also encourages students to study and deepen their knowledge.”