Oral Roberts University has long had a fitness requirement for first-year students but a written activity log sufficed until this academic year. Now, all 900 incoming freshmen have to wear Fitbit trackers (which they have to buy) and share the data with the school.
The Tulsa World newspaper (Oral Roberts is in Tulsa, OK) reports that professors had previously been required to enter the students’ self-reported data into the school’s grading system — a task better-suited for graduate assistants than tenure-track faculty. Now, the data goes into Fitbit’s cloud and is accessed by the university.
The university’s goal is 10,00o steps per day, with an aerobic goal of raising your heart rate by a required number of minutes per week. The final exam for fitness at ORU is a 1 1/2-mile run, the paper said. It did not say if there’s a time requirement, or merely a completion requirement.
Administrators hope to eventually be able to correlate physical activity with academic success. Left unstated is the possibility (probability?) that it will turnout that students had been self-reporting somewhat optimistically.
Although it’s increasingly common for businesses to enforce or encourage fitness goals using wearable tech — Fitbit has an entire division devoted to this — ORU is believed to be the first academic institution to require them.