Taking attendance is a requirement for the undergraduate programme on which I teach. In the past, I have toyed with various ways of completing this task quickly and as painlessly as possible. Nothing has worked particularly well.
There was the good old standby – a piece of paper with the students’ names on in and a space for them to sign their name. While this was effective to a point, it was distracting as the sheet was passed from person to person—or sometimes got ‘stuck’ when someone forgot to pass it on. There was also the (fortunately rare) issue of some students signing their friends’ names who weren’t there and then, when I did a head count, the numbers wouldn’t add up and I’d waste more time sorting it out. I abandoned this method of attendance ages ago.
For the last few years, I’ve created a list of names using ClassDojo and have randomly selected someone to come to the computer, drag the mouse over each name one by one and have each student shout ‘here’ when the mouse is over their name. My volunteer student clicks on a student’s name if they are absent and it turns red. The students quite like this but, again, it’s time consuming. I also think it is a bit demeaning to have university students shouting out ‘here’. Yes, they are training to be primary teachers but still…
Then I can across Attendance2. It allows the teacher to take attendance by scanning a bar code or QR code using an iPhone, iPad or iPod (it’s only for iOS at the moment). The attendance data can then be saved as a CVS file and sent to someone by email or sent to Dropbox. QR codes can be created easily and these, too, can be sent to Dropbox with just a press of a button. You can create various classes and each is contained in a separate data file, making it easy to share information to administrative staff.
I really am quite impressed with this highly-undervalued app. It makes taking attendance quite fast provided, of course, the students bring their QR code with them. As I had emailed each student their personal QR code, most of them simply brought up the QR code on their phone as I walked by. Scanning everyone didn’t take long (I only had 40 students) and within a minute or so it was done and dusted. A small bonus was that it gave me an opportunity to say good morning (or good afternoon) to every individual before the class started which I felt started the class well.
In a lecture hall this would be a bit more problematic unless you had someone standing at each entrance to scan the QR codes as students entered. However, for primary/secondary classes and for university tutorials, it certainly is worth the money, in my opinion.