How Much Manual Data Entry Does Traditional Attendance Require?

When we think of attendance, we typically envision the first few minutes of class where an instructor records which students are present and which students are absent. But as you may know, there’s more to attendance than just taking roll at the beginning of class. Attendance data must then be shared with registrars and entered into the student information system utilized by the school. To convert the raw attendance data into a digital file that can be uploaded, a significant amount of manual data entry is required by instructors. 

But exactly how much manual data entry is actually required after each class? The answer varies based on school policy, the type of program, and number of students enrolled. But regardless of how much time instructors spend on manual data entry, it’s undoubtedly too much.

Behind The Scenes

You may already be in them, but take a second to put yourself in the shoes of an instructor who uses a paper sign-in sheet to track attendance. At the beginning of class, you pass out the sign-in sheet and students spend time filling it out one by one. But the attendance taking process doesn’t stop there. Once class is over, you need to take that sheet and meticulously go down the list of each student and digitally update the system or spreadsheet to show if the students were absent or not, possibly even entering in the check in and check out times. And this is assuming all of the student submitted data is written in legible handwriting and wasn’t forged by a friend.

Now imagine having three classes a day, five times per week. Even if it requires just ten minutes per class to enter attendance data into the system, that adds up to two and a half hours each week on post-class data entry! And that’s not including the time before class instructors take to prepare and print out the roster for class each day, which takes two or three minutes if the printer happens to be functioning correctly. With the additional time it takes before class to provide the sign-in sheet, it’s safe to say that instructors are spending at least 3 hours each week preparing for class and entering attendance data into the school’s systems. 

Relieving The Burden

Ideally, instructors would be relieved of their manual data entering duties and attendance data would be available to registrars and administrators immediately after class starts. That would allow instructors to spend their time outside of class preparing for the next day or answering student questions and registrars could begin their outreach to absent students while class is still in session. 

Overall, we are saving up to 40 - 60 minutes per day. CourseKey has opened up roughly 5 - 10 hours a week depending on how many classes an instructor is scheduled for."

- Jennifer Upsher, Program Director at Brookline College

That’s the reality modern attendance solutions bring to the table. Schools are continuously looking to improve their learning environments and oftentimes look to new technology for improvement, but the fact is that many schools are actually underutilizing the technology that is already present in class. We mean the mobile devices that students carry with them everywhere. Modern attendance solutions leverage those technologies as tools for students to check in and out of class from their own personal devices. That takes the responsibility of handling attendance off of the instructor and onto the student. In a sense, the students are carrying their time clock for class in their pocket, thus making them accountable for their own attendance. Once students have checked in, the data instantly populates interactive dashboards that show registrars who is absent, empowering registrars to take action on missing students immediately. The attendance process becomes almost entirely hands-free and instructors can enjoy those extra hours per week answering students’ questions, preparing for lecture, or relaxing!

Automation Takes The Wheel

Manual attendance data entry is just one of the tedious tasks that instructors are responsible for on a daily basis that can be automated through new technology. To find out how CourseKey can alleviate your staff of tedious manual data entry, schedule a demo with a member of the CourseKey team below! 

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