CourseKey Digitizes Externship Attendance, Increasing Efficiency

In nursing and allied health programs, externships are one of the most critical parts of the learning process. They provide a hands on learning experience for students in real world settings such as hospitals or dental offices. While completing an externship, students work with real life situations and become intimately familiar with clinical operations. In addition to providing first hand work experiences, externships give students the ability to build a relationship with the site, which often times leads to an employment opportunity with the site after graduation. In fact, between 30-40% of students are hired by the externship site. Nursing and allied health programs have created highly effective processes for holistically educating students in their fields by pairing in-class instruction with actual field experience via externship requirements.

Because externships are so vital to students’ development, the number of hours required to complete before graduation is highly regulated. The duration of externships varies widely, ranging anywhere from 40 hours to 900 hours, depending on the organization or program. The responsibility to track the amount of hours a student is in attendance falls on the externship site, which typically records that data using a physical sign-in sheet that could potentially get misplaced.

To verify that a student has completed their required hours, a representative from the school must contact the externship site to get confirmation. This is typically done using archaic methods of sharing information, including over the phone, by email, or even using faxes! Inefficient methods of communication and the maintenance and storage of hard copies present many possible difficulties for both the externship site and the school. To highlight one example, the National Health Service in England has been banned from purchasing additional fax machines by the government and has been told to phase out all fax machines by March 31, 2020. The Department of Health claims that more modern communication methods are needed to improve patient safety and cyber security. Health organizations in the United States should be taking similar steps to adopt more advanced technology in the workplace for increased efficiency and security.

CourseKey's Digital Solution

This is where CourseKey – a San Diego-based company that enables institutions to automatically capture and collect attendance data, push interactive assessment content through engagement tools, and provide analytics on student and class performance – enters the picture. As part of CourseKey’s offering, the company is taking the initiative to digitize and modernize how attendance records are tracked, stored, and shared, enhancing the overall externship process by limiting the manual labor required to track attendance.

Coursekey makes use of geofences for location based attendance.CourseKey takes the responsibility of recording attendance out of the site administrators hands and puts it on the student, leveraging the mobile devices they already have on hand. Using CourseKey’s patented GPS technology, the student checks in and out of a location-based geofence constructed around the site using their smartphone and the CourseKey app. CourseKey’s technology records the time a student spent at the site down to the second, which is critical when the required externship time is measured in hours. The attendance data is then stored in the cloud where it is accessible by relevant school stakeholders instantaneously through real-time, visual dashboards, eliminating tedious phone calls with different administrators at the externship site. CourseKey optimizes the attendance taking process by digitizing mundane administrative tasks that should be automated in 2019, the year of self driving cars and delivery drones. With CourseKey technology, the externship experience is more efficient, attendance is tracked more accurately, and the process is more cost-effective. Plus, for schools seeking to create a paperless academic environment, eliminating hard-copy sign in sheets is a step in the right direction.

Eradicating paper from the attendance taking process with CourseKey benefits students, externship sites, and schools in different ways. Students can feel confident that their time spent at the externship is being recorded accurately and that the data is securely stored for when it’s time for the school to verify how long the student was in attendance.

CourseKey also serves the employees of the externship sites by enabling them to focus on the students and their experience rather than dealing with administrative tasks. Additionally, it eliminates the need for the site to communicate to the school how long the student is in attendance, limiting possible confusions and frustration surrounding attendance data. 

Furthermore, schools benefit from using CourseKey because they can verify the student is at the externship on time and can feel confident in the accuracy of hours the student accrues. School leadership and relevant program stakeholders can easily access the attendance data without needing to directly contact the externship site, saving them time, energy, and headaches. With access to real-time dashboards, schools can contact students much faster when they find out a student is absent or late to their externship.

Modernizing the Attendance Taking Process

Externships are an integral part of the holistic education that nursing and allied health programs bestow upon their students. Through mobile device check in and digital attendance records, CourseKey is modernizing the externship attendance taking process by eliminating physical sign in sheets, thus increasing operational efficiency and enhancing the experience for everyone involved. 

Facilitating how attendance is recorded in externships is just one of the many ways CourseKey is improving the overall career education experience for administrators, instructors, and students alike. Stay tuned for more material on how CourseKey is making a difference in the career education sector. In the meantime, visit to explore the software or experience the technology yourself for free by scheduling a demo below.

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