New students at a private Christian university in Tulsa, Oklahoma are being told to wear Fitbits to enhance their overall education.
Oral Roberts University, named after its televangelist founder, has long prescribed mandatory exercise as part of its curriculum and is now using fitness trackers to keep tabs on how its students are doing.
"The marriage of new technology with our physical fitness requirements is something that sets ORU apart," current president William M. Wilson said.
Previously, students were required to manually log aerobics points, but the introduction of fitness trackers will see the data automatically uploaded to a central learning management system and made available to professors, allowing them to lower grades if fitness requirements aren't met. Now the new intake of around 900 students will be required to wear Fitbits.
"ORU offers one of the most unique educational approaches in the world by focusing on the Whole Person -- mind, body and spirit," Wilson also added. So far over 550 Fitbits have been sold on-campus at an average price of $150, but this isn't the first time wearables have been used at the private school.
A step too far?
"Before this breakthrough on the campus in Tulsa, the university successfully integrated wearable technology in online programs. The university inspired and encouraged all online students to track physical activity through wearable technology in the spring of 2014. This allowed them to save, plan and share progress," the ORU website says.
Although ORU confirmed they will not be using GPS to track students who buy a Fitbit Surge, for instance, students will still be monitored at all times. A blow for those planning on playing truant.
What's also interesting is that ORU does plan to correlate its data over a matter of years to see if there is a relationship between exercise and academic success.
Obviously, this particular university has a very particular way of engaging with its students. Some could say this is a step too far for educators but parents sending their kids to ORU will no doubt approve and this doesn't necessarily mean we will see this scheme repeated across the US. Most activity tracker Wellness programs we've seen so far, at big organisations like Target, have been very much an opt-in affair.
Via: The Guardian