CTL Blog

The On-Campus Attendance Tracker

September 14, 2015 | 2 Minute Read

Every few months, the CTL Help team gets asked if there's a way to keep track of attendance in on-campus classes from within CoursePlus. We're always listening to our faculty, staff, and students, and when a certain feature is requested often enough, we know it's time to turn that request into reality.

Faculty can now enable an attendance tracking tool for on-campus courses from wihtin CoursePlus. The attendance tracking tool enables faculty to keep very simple records about who attended a specific class session. A super-short video demonstration is below, followed by a more complete description of the tool:

The attendance tracking tool automatically pulls information about a course's meeting dates and times from the JHSPH course system and builds out a simple grid of checkboxes where faculty can mark if a student attended that class. Faculty can enable or disable attendance tracking for individual class sessions or add additional sessions to the attendance tracking grid. This data can be exported to Excel at any time.

Faculty can also allow students to mark themselves as attended in the class website, if they so choose. If student check-in is enabled, students will see a button on the course home page which, when clicked, marks them as having attended the class. Faculty control when this button appears and disappears on the course home page by setting a start and stop date/time when this button should be displayed. Faculty can set this to be at the start of class, or at a random time of their choosing during the class.

If the attendance tracking tool is enabled, students can see a report of their attendance as it's been recorded in CoursePlus. This report is available under the "Resources" tab in a CoursePlus site where attendance tracking has been enabled.

It's really important to note that no additional verification methods of student physical presence in the classroom (i.e.; swiping a badge, facial recognition in the room, geolocation of the device used to check in) are provided. CoursePlus cannot guarantee that a student is sitting in a classroom at the time that they check in for a course. Even though geolocation is built into most smartphones, it's only accurate within a few hundred feet (not good enough for ensuring that a student is in a classroom) and students have to grant access to CoursePlus to see their location -- something that could easily be denied by the student.

That said, we hope that this will be a useful tool for faculty and TAs. Students don't have to check themselves in. Faculty and TAs can take attendance the old-fashioned way, but store that data quickly and easily in CoursePlus.