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This Device Is Tracking Student Attendance To Save Universities Money

Ann Thompson
This Bluetooth beacon, displayed in Marquett Burton's office, is an example of what colleges and universities would put on their classroom walls. It can be set to a range of one foot to 150 meters.

A Cincinnati company is pitching colleges and universities nationwide with a way to keep track of their students. It involves a long-range Bluetooth beacon and a downloadable app.

CEO of Fletch, Marquett Burton, has signed up the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), DeVry Education Group, Pasedena City College and others. He's trying to get the University of Cincinnati on board with the premise that the American college system loses $17 billion in tuition every year to dropouts. An early indicator of that is poor attendance.

Burton says the app helps schools identify problems so they can intervene before a student drops out. Students can also benefit with information from the app, like attendance records and offers of tutoring help from colleges and universities.


Here's How It Works:

1. Students download the app and sign-up.

2. The Bluetooth beacon picks up the student in class and records their attendance.

Burton says there are other features the company is trying out with UNLV. "We're deploying beacons in the financial aid offices, in the tutoring center, things like that, so that we can really give the student a prescription and say 'Hey, individuals who majored in electrical engineering and computer science, they averaged 12 hours in the library every week' or 'They went to tutoring with this frequency.'"

Burton says this is not big brother. It is Bluetooth not GPS, so it doesn't know where the student is once they leave the room. The app operates in the background, so once it is set up, students don't need to do anything else.

A future application could be in the workplace. The Puerto Rican Secretary of Education called Burton to ask if the technology was capable of making sure employees were being truthful when filling out their time sheets.