Classroom attendance is a very routine and familiar assignment that every K-12 teacher is tasked with. After all, attendance is a good predictor of student success and often tied to participation grades. Most teachers are looking to quickly find out the attendance and absence totals for a given student and totals for their classes.
How do most teachers go about this task today?
We asked our teachers ….
- The quickest solution, but with the least benefits, is to use paper and pencil sign-in sheets.
- The next solution is to use Excel or Google Sheets “sign-in sheet templates”.
- For Excel, this is a popular sign-in sheet template & this one to summarize your attendance.
- For Google Sheets, these are popular sign-in sheet templates & this one to summarize your attendance totals.
- The modern solution, but still not the most convenient, is to use a LMS system like Blackboard, Moodle, Etc.
A cool workflow we learned about - You can add student names, student numbers, and other information into a google sheet. Download this app: QR Code Attendance for Classroom and Employee, it generates QR codes for you!
What teachers told us about the challenges with the above methods …
- Paper and pencil gets ineffective, hours of time is wasted on deciphering illegible handwriting and converting all this information into a digital attendance sheet like this one.
- Excel and Google Sheets sign-in sheet templates have to be printed each day or weeks in advance. They are still subject to the same manual labor as paper sign-in sheets. At the end of the day, all the information has to be transferred to a digital workbook on Excel or Google Sheets.
- LMS systems like Blackboard and Moodle are complex software that do hundreds of things and are typically not easy and convenient to use frequently. Another product to consider in this department - Lathem Time Clocks.
The effective and efficient way of taking student attendance
Today, a digital check-in or digital sign-in app is the best way.
Unfortunately COVID-19 has changed the way we interact and quite frankly changed everything. With physical distancing being more important than ever, the old methods of check in and attendance are not ideal. Here are the benefits of using a digital check-in or a digital sign-in app.
- Automatic physical safety; Anything paper and pencil is simply not hygienic, it requires constant sanitization and monitoring. Importance of social distancing means long line-ups put students at risk of COVID transmission.
- Save time and labor; With digital tools you can save time and reduce labor, this free time can be allocated to more meaningful activities. Say goodbye to illegible handwritings.
- Cost benefit; Digital apps are cheap, you can get started on a $15/mo budget.
Benefit of digital check-in apps
- Convenience of mobile: everything has moved to our smartphones and smart tables. Digital apps trend to be more modern and most are designed for mobile first.
- Data integrity; Hard to forge identity. You can set up a signature, photo, surveys to add the extra verification into your sign-in process. Not to mention, the digital timestamps are hard to forge.
- Attendance and reporting; it’s easy to look at your books and find out who and how many people attended on a specific day. Furthermore, you can run attendance totals and full reports on the go.
- Easy implementation; download the app using the Apple App Store and get setup in a few minutes.
What features should a digital check-in app offer
- A touch-less or contact free check-in option. This is the most important during COVID. You need features like QR codes so you can issue passes that go on lanyards, QR codes that can be scanned on the student devices, or check-in links that can be shared with all your students via email or SMS.
- Fast installation: You don’t want to spend too much time on the setup. Look for apps that import data from your existing student roster Excel or CSV sheet.
- Mobile first design: look for apps that prioritize the smart phone’s user interface so you can check-in people fast. It’s time to put your phone first and desktop second.
- Snappy reports: Look for apps that will quickly sum attendance totals for each student, show attendance history and export these into aggregate reports in Excel or CSV format.
- Additional data integrity on each check-in. Value-add features like signatures, photos, and GPS location.