In elementary, middle, and high school, almost every class would usually begin with the customary roll call wherein a teacher would patiently call out the name of every student to track the number of days missed. While this system of attendance tracking was effective, it is hardly the most efficient use of class time. In fact, in an hour long class, the process of calling the names of 25-40 students could easily take up to 5 percent of the total class time. In university and college settings, where the number of students can easily be over 100, most professors are simply forced to abandon attendance tracking due to time concerns. Despite these difficulties, many educators are often left without alternatives as state education and truancy laws require teachers and education administrators to keep a tally on how many days of school students miss throughout the year.
Fortunately, teachers and professors today have a wide variety of technologies that make it easier and quicker to effectively track student attendance. Below, we offer a complete review of student attendance tracking technologies to help educators dedicate more time to teaching and less time to discovering who is in class and who is not.
Ineffective Alternatives to the Roll Call
In an effort to save time, many teachers have experimented with alternatives to the traditional roll call. Seating charts might save time at the beginning of class, though the educator still has to find the time to note which students are not in their assigned seat. Trying to force students to stay in an assigned seat can also be a challenge, especially for younger aged students.
Sign in sheets that are passed around at the beginning of class can certainly help save time in the classroom, since a teacher can dedicate more time to lecturing and teaching while individual students sign in their attendance. However, this strategy is almost always ineffectual as certain students are bound to “sign in” their absent friends.
While time and attendance software and technologies are usually associated with businesses that are trying to keep track of the number of hours their employees work, these same tools can be used by teachers, and professors, and others involved in the world of education to save time while effectively and efficiently tracking student attendance.
What is Student Time Attendance Tracking?
The digitalization of our world and our institutions is also affecting the world of education. According to one recent study, “more than 6.3 million students in the U.S. – most of whom were undergraduates – took at least one online course in fall 2016, a 5.6 percent increase from the previous year.” Similarly, improvements in technology have led to over 98 percent of public testing to occur online in Ohio public schools.
Advanced technologies and the digitalization of education have allowed educators to interact with their students in unique ways, from Facebook study groups, to online forums and debates, to webinars with experts on the other side of the world. The advancement of education-based technologies is also seen in student time attendance tracking.
Today, time attendance tracking software and technology allows teachers, professors, and educators to collect, track, and manage student absences. Besides freeing up important and valuable classroom time, these technologies can also give professors valuable data related to student attendance patterns. In elementary and middle school, advanced data related to patterns of student attendance can allow professors to better engage with the parents in order to ensure regular school attendance which is essential for educational success.
In college and university settings, many professors simply forego tracking attendance, which is one of the reasons why around 30 percent of college freshmen drop out before finishing their first year. The use of student attendance tracking technologies can help to create a sense of accountability and motivate students to take their college careers seriously.
Customization of Student Attendance Tracking Technologies
One of the best aspects of student attendance tracking technologies is that they can be customized to meet the needs and requirements of specific educational spaces. While some student attendance tracking technologies rely on biometric data such as fingerprints or ID cards with barcodes and RFID chips, others can rely on Bluetooth and GPS locators to make sure that students are physically present in class when they say they are.
According to a recent Hechinger Report, over 60 percent of high school principals stated that students in their school were assigned some sort of mobile device for their school work. The use of assigned mobile technologies in the classroom has been shown to increase the likelihood of students taking notes in class, investing in internet research, creating documents to share, collaborating with their peers on projects, and email teachers regarding homework assignments and due dates.
These same assigned devices can be utilized for attendance tracking. With advanced software options available today, instructors can have their students sign in on their assigned device. A combination of GPS and Bluetooth technologies will verify that they are physically present in class, and will allow the student to check in and out, thus providing an accurate log of the amount of time that individual students spend in class.
Some of the top student attendance tracking technologies also allow educators to automatically create tardy and absentee warnings. For example, if a certain student has recorded a certain amount of tardy arrivals to class or absences, a warning can be automatically sent to his or her email. Similarly, automatically-generated emails can be sent to parents or guardians once a certain student has reached a pre-defined level of absences. This can help to create a culture of transparency and accountability which is essential for effective schooling.
Furthermore, some of the best student attendance tracking software can also allow students to apply for approved absences and communicate with their teachers when they are planning to miss class for a verifiable reason. All of these technologies and software options play an essential role in helping teachers to better take advantage of the time they have in the classroom while also stimulating student participation.