An Overview Of Sound Vs. GPS Based Attendance

Digital solutions are modernizing schools’ attendance tracking, using technology to accurately verify that students are where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there. By replacing traditional attendance tracking methods with digital solutions, schools can experience massive efficiency gains such as presenting registrars with real-time attendance data and saving instructors hours of manual data entry per week. For schools considering switching to a digital solution, there are different options available to them. Two options available through CourseKey’s attendance platform are Sound and GPS attendance tracking, both highly effective when used in the right environment. To give you a better idea which would work best for the programs at your school, we put together an overview comparing Sound vs. GPS based attendance, highlighting how each solution works and the environments they’re best suited for.

Sound Based Attendance: Ideal Environment

Sound technology is extremely accurate, especially when used indoors, making it a great option for tracking students’ attendance in classrooms. Sound waves can’t travel through doors or walls, meaning that the students looking to check in must be within the four walls of the classroom. The only students who will get credit for the session will be the ones physically present in the room, meaning students hoping to check in from the hallway or lobby of the building won’t be able to. 

Additionally, CourseKey’s sound based attendance can be used effectively for clinicals with a rally point or courses with outdoor meeting points. Instructors can use it to be sure their students are within a short distance of the device emitting the sound. For example, if an instructor wants to meet with their class at a cell phone tower, as long as the students are within a set radius of the device emitting the tone, sound attendance is a quick and simple way to track the students’ time for the session.

How It Works

CourseKey’s sound attendance requires two pieces of hardware — a device operated by the instructor that can play a sound (typically a laptop or computer) and the students’ mobile devices. At the start of class, the instructor clicks “take attendance” through their instructor account on CourseKey’s web portal and a high frequency tone, inaudible to most human ears, is emitted from the instructor’s device. The students, meanwhile, click “attendance” on their app and their devices start listening for the tone. Once the devices hear the tone, they’ve verified that the students are in the same room as the instructor and checks the students in. The whole process takes a matter of seconds, allowing instructors to begin teaching much earlier than traditional attendance tracking methods would allow. At the end of class, the instructor and students repeat the process, and the students check out of the session as quickly as they were checked in. 

GPS Based Attendance: Ideal Environment

GPS attendance can work for any setting, but it’s especially handy for externships because it’s the most automated solution CourseKey offers. Before a program or module begins, attendance tracking can be fully scheduled out, allowing instructors and supervisors to specify time periods in which students can check in. When students go to check in, the instructors or supervisors don’t have to touch their end of the platform, which is especially convenient for schools with many offsite locations because program coordinators or supervisors are not always present at the site to facilitate checking their students in. 

Because tracking and reporting student hours at off-site locations can be tedious and time consuming for both the externship staff and the school’s registrars, using CourseKey’s GPS attendance is extremely beneficial for both parties, saving them hours of sharing and uploading attendance data per week.

How It Works

As previously mentioned, GPS attendance is an extremely convenient method of tracking student hours because it can be fully automated so attendance can open and close without needing an instructor to be present. By using the location services on students’ phones, GPS attendance verifies that a student is where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there. Before each module begins, schools can create virtual geofences around their relevant sites when creating their courses in CourseKey. During a module, when a student has arrived at the location of the session, they open their app and tap “attendance.” Once their phone verifies that they’re within the perimeter of the appropriate geofence, they’re checked in. The student checks themselves out before leaving the geofence at the end of the session, providing the school with insight into which students, if any, are leaving class early.

Easily Configurable

Whether a program is using sound attendance or GPS attendance, both solutions populate attendance dashboards in real time, allowing registrars to have access to attendance data immediately. In fact, schools can use a combination of both solutions in the different learning environments they offer and still have all of the data presented in the same dashboard.

One thing to note is that while this overview describe out-of-the box ideal conditions for Sound and GPS attendance, CourseKey’s implementation team works closely with every client school to understand their attendance goals and learning environments, helping schools pick the best technology for the programs they offer.

We know that every school different, so schedule a one-on-one demo with us below and we can go through the specific requirements and policies of your school to help you discover which solution is best for your programs.

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