TULSA, Okla. – Oral Roberts University is literally tracking its students’ every move.
The private school in Tulsa now requires all incoming students to wear Fitbit fitness trackers to meet physical activity requirements: 10,000 steps per day and heart beat per minute standards, Fox 23 reports.
“It’s helped a lot of people even though they don’t like it sometimes when they have to work out,” freshman Christian Monsolve told the news site. “I’ve gotten mixed reviews. I’ve had some people say it looks like an anklet and others say that they are tracking you.”
The current freshman class is the first to be required to wear the fitness tracking bands, and the information it gathers is available to professors. The device uses GPS technology to track how and where students exercise, eat, and sleep, as well as the calories they burn, how much they weigh and other personal information, News on 6 reports.
“The Fitbit trackers will feed into the D2L gradebook, automatically logging aerobics points,” according to the university website. “Before this breakthrough on the campus in Tulsa, the university successfully integrated wearable technology in their 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,” according to the site.
So far, the school has sold more than 550 Fitbits through the school bookstore, and others were purchased online, News on 6 reports.
“ORU offers one of the most unique educational approaches in the world by focusing on the Whole Person – mind, body and spirit,” ORU president William M. Wilson said in a prepared statement. “The marriage of new technology with our physical fitness requirements is something that sets ORU apart.
“In fact, when we began this innovative program in the fall of 2015, we were the first university in the world to offer this unique approach to a fitness program,” Wilson said.
While the Fitbits are required for all incoming freshmen, they’re also encouraged among the rest of the student body. Before the devices, students were required to keep fitness journals, and to manually log aerobics points, News on 6 reports.
Many folks who commented online supported the idea of engaging students in physical activity, but many also criticized the need to track students’ every step with GPS technology.
“My wife attended ORU when Oral Roberts ran the school. She told me that the school would expel people if they broke the honor code. Some students were kicked out after being seen at places that broke the honor code,” Bernard F. Dreyer posed to Facebook. “The only way that could happen is if the students were followed or plants from the school went with the students aka entrapment. The GPS in these devices is a concern. The software will know where and when the physical activity is done. It could be used for purposes unknown to the students.”
“To me this is an electronic version of the Star of David that Jews were forced to wear during WWII. At least with the Star of David they had to use physical means to track people. With the Fitbit the school only has to review big data and know where you are every moment of the day,” he wrote.
“I’m for the whole man concept. That’s why I went to ORU. But, requiring people to wear a device is a little creepy. Of course I was required to wear a tie back in the day. But that wasn’t reporting my activity back to the University,” Randall LeBlanc posted.
“This is absurd. There are other ways to encourage physical fitness. This is just a complete invasion of privacy. Not to mention a big waste of money,” Alex Long added.