Artificial Intelligence

Facial recognition tested in Swedish high school

15th January 2019
Alex Lynn

How can AI and new technologies reduce teachers' administrative tasks in the classroom? In a pilot project Nordic software and services company Tieto and Anderstorp high school in Skellefteå, Sweden, tested automatic student registration using tags, smartphone apps and facial recognition technology. The reactions from both students and teachers have been positive.

The teachers at Anderstorp's high school in Skellefteå each year spend 17,280 hours, equivalent to ten full-time jobs, registering students in the lessons. Registration is part of Swedish legislation that states that schools must report daily to custodians how each individual lesson’s attendance looks.

“With automatic registration, students do not have to worry about the teacher forgetting to log their attendance, and the teacher can start their lessons right away, without being disturbed by students arriving late. We wanted to find ways to improve the operations of the school by solving these problems,” explained Tommy Lindmark, IT strategist, Skellefteå municipality.

In collaboration with Tieto, the management at Anderstorp high school decided that the school should be included in a pilot project where the possibilities of introducing automatic registration were examined. A class was selected as a test group and for eight weeks the experiment ‘Future classroom’ was conducted.

As a first step, field studies, surveys and interviews were carried out, and then it was decided to test plastic tags, apps on the students' mobile phones, and facial recognition. Cameras and sensors were placed in the entrance of the classroom. Facial recognition is based on a machine learning technique, which in this case created individual dots as a unique pattern for each face. That pattern was then recognised by the system as a personal ‘code’. Pupils and parents gave their consent to the project, while Tieto, in close collaboration with the school, thoroughly ensured safety and GDPR compliance.

The test provided useful insights into optimising the user experience. For example, it showed how important it was for the students to get some type of visual feedback of a successful registration. In this case, this was enabled by a lamp which lit up when they passed.

Fredrika Ling, Head of Design within Healthcare, Welfare and Education at Tieto, stated: “To know when and how the students were ‘registered’ proved to be very important for the feeling of security in the project. During the test, we also placed a lamp formed as small figure by the camera that the students could interact with and this was also found to be successful.”

The school and the municipality will now evaluate if they want to proceed with automatic registration as a permanent solution.

“It has been an exciting project to work with the school and the students to investigate how we can use new technology to make their everyday life more efficient. We at Tieto are happy to be able to contribute our expertise and the technology required as society takes the next digital step, also in the education sector,” Ling finished.

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