This French school is using facial recognition software to make sure its students stay focused in class

A show of hands, how many of us have fallen asleep during class lecture at least once? Even if you’re walking into a classroom with the best of intentions, sometimes you had a late night. Or, you’re basically hypnotized into napping after staring at a board full of equations or arguments or what have you. Would you make a better show of class time if you knew you were being tracked by facial recognition software?

That’s the scenario that the Paris School of Business is testing out on two remote courses, starting this September.

The software, named Nestor, will check out students’ eye contact and facial expressions. That way, you can’t, say, wander off to do some cooking in the middle of a lecture. And in a slightly cruel twist, Nestor then helps professors create quizzes based on when people were paying the least attention. How’s that for calling unengaged students out?

What this idea suggests about remote learning isn’t exactly inspiring. But as schools enter the online course marketplace, it shouldn’t be surprising that they want a way to actually track student engagement. But privacy advocates rightly wonder, is keeping video backlogs of students really the only way to get them to pay attention? Looks like we won’t have to wait very long to start finding out.