Here’s The Skinny On ‘Location-Based’ Attendance

The traditional ways of tracking attendance in higher education are not always foolproof. More often than not, the methods used to verify if students are in class have loopholes that can be exploited by students who don’t want to be there. 

Pen and paper sign-in sheets, hardware clickers, and even attendance tracked by assignment submission are all susceptible to academic dishonesty. Perhaps the only type of attendance tracking that ensures each student is actually present in the classroom is what we like to call “location-based” attendance solutions. 

So what does “location-based” actually mean? In regards to attendance, it means that the method used to track students verifies that the student is in the same location as the class in session.

One Common Element

“Location-based” attendance is conducted in a few different ways, but the commonality between all of them is that they rely on the capabilities of students’ mobile devices. Fortunately, with the evolution of personal devices as the societal norm, it’s safe to assume almost every student will have a mobile device with them at school.

Making Waves

One “location-based” solution used to take attendance is inaudible sound technology. Here’s how it works. When it’s time to take attendance, instructors play a sound, either over the speakers in the room or the speakers on their device, and the students’ devices pick up the sound and verify that the student is in class. What’s nice about sound technology is that the sound emitted is very high frequency — so high, in fact, that  it’s inaudible to most ears. But the devices hear it loud and clear and are instantly able to prove that the student is in class. Another practical feature of sound technology is that sound waves don’t travel through walls, which means that anyone looking to receive credit for attendance must be inside the walls of the classroom.

Accurate Location Tracking

The second way of leveraging “location-based” attendance is through GPS. Everyone knows generally what GPS is, but not everyone knows what it stands for or how it actually works. It stands for Global Positioning System, which uses satellites to find a specified item’s location on earth. In the case of GPS attendance, satellites validate the exact location of a student’s mobile device. Instructors or admins set up what’s known as a “geofence,” or a virtual area, with the classroom at the center and the circumference encompassing the classroom. When it’s time to take attendance, students open an app on their device and tap a button to check in. When they tap the button, a signal is transmitted to a satellite in orbit, and the satellite instantly sends the signal back down to the instructor’s device with the confirmation that the student’s phone, laptop, or tablet is inside the geofence. Using GPS technology is convenient for instructors because they only need to specify the dimensions of the geofence once at the beginning of the semester, allowing them to start each class after that without even touching the platform. 

Solutions To Match School Priorities

What’s nice about these two solutions is that, depending on your school’s priorities, you can choose the one that helps you accomplish your specific attendance goals. If you’re looking to revamp your attendance processes to be completely secure, using sound technology is a great option to ensure students are physically present. If your goal is to automate attendance and transfer the responsibility of taking attendance from the instructor to the students, leveraging GPS makes the most sense.

Location-Based Is Here To Stay

As the education sector continues to become modernized, technology will play a bigger role in administrative tasks like taking attendance. It won’t be out of the ordinary to see technologies like facial recognition be leveraged to track attendance. But even as advanced technologies become commonplace, a “location-based” component to attendance tracking will still be essential to prove that students are inside the classroom.  

Leveraging modern technologies like sound waves and GPS solutions are dependable ways of ensuring students are physically present. “Location-based” methods are great for combating academic dishonesty. Their true value, however, is in allowing schools to be confident in their processes and have much higher awareness about if their students are in class. 

Are you curious to learn more about “location-based” attendance solutions? Fill out the fields below to schedule a demo with a member of the CourseKey team.

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