Winning With Mobile: Part 5

Welcome back to our blog series, Winning With Mobile. I hope everyone enjoyed Earth Day and was able to celebrate our planet last week. If you missed our Earth Day post, you can find it here.

Today, we will discuss perhaps the most groundbreaking feature of CourseKey: our attendance solution. It may sound crazy, but many post-secondary institutions still use physical sign-in sheets to record their students’ attendance. While the world has seen astounding improvements in technology, this manual process is still widely adopted by schools and is the standard way to record attendance data. It reminds us of this 2008 clip from The Office:

This scene makes fun of the claim that real business is done on paper in an increasingly paperless world – and it’s 11 years old! Doing business on paper and relying on manual attendance taking processes can lead to inaccurate data, poor and illegible documentation, inadequate process controls, and delays when collecting and entering data. Having a way to bypass bumps in the road like these would give institutions the ability to drastically increase efficiency, compliance, and retention. When CourseKey’s founders saw how many institutions still use pen and paper to record attendance, they recognized an opportunity to revolutionize how attendance is tracked using the mobile devices that students bring to class every day. By digitizing attendance tracking processes, institutions can experience more accurate data, simplified data collection, instant data sharing between staff, and a wider overview of attendance records. All of these improvements combined can contribute to increased efficiency, compliance, and student retention.

How it Works

Because digital attendance tracking is a fairly new phenomenon, let’s quickly go through how it works. At the start of class, instructors begin the attendance session (this can be automated!) and the students check in on their mobile devices using one of CourseKey’s location-based technology options within the course’s allotted time frame. After the student has checked in on their device, the attendance data is instantly uploaded to the cloud, where everyone, including students, instructors, and registrars, can view it. Once the data is in the cloud, administrative dashboards are populated, allowing staff to easily see which students are absent. If for some reason the data was recorded inaccurately, perhaps because a student’s device ran out of battery or an exception needs to be made, instructors have the power to easily make adjustments to the data. The adjustments are accompanied by a school specific reason code and the student is notified of any modification to their data. In short, CourseKey’s solution creates a centralized attendance tracking process that updates in real-time. Now that you understand how it works, let’s dive in to why digital attendance is an obvious choice. 

could computing connecting devices

Ease of Collecting Data

The first benefit of digitizing attendance is the ease of data collection. Gone are the days of passing a sign-in sheet around the room that takes 15 minutes to reach the entire class or having students come up to the front of the class to sign in while class has already begun. With CourseKey’s solution, instructors can easily collect attendance data for the day within seconds by leveraging students mobile devices, allowing them to start class on-time without disruptions.

Accurate Data

CourseKey’s technology guarantees that the students checking in are physically present in class. Each method of tracking (QR code, sound, and GPS tracking) all require the student to be inside the classroom walls. Digitizing attendance tracking eradicates any errors that arise because of illegible writing on a sign-in sheet or natural human error when entering data into a system manually. Because data is stored in the cloud, misplacing attendance records is a thing of the past and administrative staff always know where to find the data. CourseKey’s solution ensures that the data is correct and the number of hours accrued accurately reflects the time a student spent in class.

arrow hitting a bull's eye for precision.

Instantly Share Data

A huge advantage of using mobile devices to track attendance is that devices can share data between them instantly through cloud systems. Whether the instructors are relaying attendance data to registrars or externship coordinators are, it is all shared within the blink of an eye. All data is stored in the cloud to be easily accessible at any time. When it comes time to prove student data is accurate, everyone will know where to find the data. Being able to access this data in the cloud after it automatically gets populated from the student devices saves so much time in the process. Where it could potentially take days or weeks for registrars to identify at risk students using pen and paper to track attendance, CourseKey makes it possible to identify them on the same day the student had class.  

Increased Overview

CourseKey’s digital attendance solution includes an interface for registrars and instructors, granting them both increased overview of the data they’re tracking. Instructors are able to view the entire roster of their students and check their attendance status in real time. Additionally, they are given a list of absent students for the day just seconds after the attendance window is closed.

Similarly, registrars gain an overview of the courses currently in session at the school and can see the percentage of students who are checked in per class.This eliminates much of the tedious, manual data entry and validation that registrars have to do and enables them to immediately transition to how they can intervene with at risk students.

Not only do instructors and registrars achieve an increased overview of data, but students do as well. With access to the student gradebook on their mobile devices, students can see their grades for assessments as well as their attendance record, allowing them to track their own time in class and become more accountable. Students no longer have to wait several days for their gradebook to be updated. Instead, they can see their grade update in real-time and know where they stand in regards to course requirements.

Revolutionizing Attendance

Leveraging students’ mobile devices as a means to record attendance is a great way to increase your institution’s efficiency, compliance, and student retention. Mobile devices present a reliable way to record accurate, timely attendance data and share it instantly through the cloud with interested staff members. With improved visibility into each and every student’s attendance records in real-time, school leadership, administrators, and instructors can take a more proactive approach to managing a student’s attendance progress.

Because many institutions use pen and paper processes to track attendance, CourseKey decided to create a digital solution to eradicate many of the manual processes associated with taking attendance and increase institutions’ administrative efficiency. When the first iteration of CourseKey’s technology proved effective and scalable, the company, together with partner schools, explored other ways to improve the education experience using students’ mobile devices. The attendance solution was the first component of CourseKey that paved the way for the rest of the features covered in our Winning With Mobile series. Schools taking advantage of smartphones, tablets, and laptops to increase their operational efficiency truly are winning with mobile. To learn more about CourseKey’s paperless solution, visit or schedule a demo with one of our team members by clicking the button below.

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