Home > e-learning, Institution-is-Loyola-University-Maryland, Metrics > Student attendance metering: present signin.xls and perspectives

Student attendance metering: present signin.xls and perspectives

 

We are working on replacing the old attendance meter which is still down:

As you will remember, we have been recording attendance last term and made this data available to you on our new  network share: H:\llc\people\Sign_In_Sheet.xls. To summarize your students attendance, you can filter this data, using standard excel features.

 

New this term: To help you with this, we added an hard-coded MS-Excel auto-filter (see down-arrows in column headers): filter by course language, then number, then teacher, then the student in question , to summarize during assessment.

 

We expanded the data validation, so that we get the computer help us processing the data (sort, filter, search…).

 

Per your request, we added the course number, section and teacher columns to the sign-in sheet (to be manually updated at every term start – a poor man’s integration into the campus information system which had better not be done even by central services, but rather only purchased by them):

Individual teachers can use the built-in filters to drill down to their classes/students for advising/grading.

Individual student can be tracked, together with their time spent in the LLC:

Students enter in the green columns, mostly having to access only built-in shortcuts and selection boxes, while the other columns get updated completely automatically.

To enable students inputting their information directly, we have hacked together a dual screen system in the LLC entrance area. 

 

We will also use this dual screen system for improving other LLC services, by hooking  into central services. We will ask students with less than clear requests (“My professor wants me to do my homework here, where is it?”) to load their syllabus from blackboard and share their screen with the lab assistant, to assist with (not solve: that would need library resources, meaning professional library catalogue, library professional staff and library professional network and procedures) locating movies and other assigned learning materials.

 

For the attendance meter, this means: students can enter this information themselves; lab assistants still supervise, and collect the student ID to double check and prevent the cheating that I was approached about to fix with the prior system: signing in for friends, especially with passwords separate from university-wide passwords which there is no reason to keep secret.

 

Please note that this home-brew spreadsheet-based system is still severely limited in its functionality.

 

We could POSSIBLY (this would need setup and coordination with various central offices) automate this more, given time for the initial investment.

 

I have experimented with hooking into the swipe card system. However, students would have to be asked to swipe out also. For other reporting purposes, I have already managed to retrieve this data in this form:

 

I have experimented with recording log-in (but no log-off) data on the LLC computers (another hack) in a centrally available spreadsheet, in this format:

I have inquired about using Microsoft’s SCCM (a generic software management application not meant for monitoring learning or language learning): We could gather statistics on two LLC-specific programs: the SANAKO media player and the webbrowser.exe (both, however, are likely, but not required to be used for language learning if a student prefers to do the learning in other applications). Neither would record actual files being opened.


All of these approaches, while preventing the most blatant cheating, still would not record actual language learning activity. They do not prevent students from spending their time in the LLC doing unrelated activities (like browsing sports news or playing online games)
while they can do their assigned Blackboard and Quia homework from the convenience of their residence.

It is the professional systems that have been programmed with the resources from of revenue of literally thousands of campus-wide installations that can record these language learning activities.

The Sanako language lab software contains a webbrowser.exe which can not only be remote controlled by the teacher, but also be configured to allow only browsing certain (partial) urls or disallow browsing certain urls. it is also possible to apply different policies in different situations. this facility, while part of the package your purchased with the lab, has not been set up as of yet.

 

It would require developing policies and implementing them. E.g. one could during non-class use of the LLC only allow browsing publisher websites, including Quia.com, and Blackboard.loyola.edu  and Loyola.edu (a radical approach).

 

One could also explicitly preventing certain websites, like Facebook (this would be more effective during face-to-face session in the LLC).

Then there are the facilities within your textbook websites (Quia) and within your course management (Blackboard, keywords for free tools being: Course Statistics, Statistics Tracking with activity_accumulator, Performance Dashboard, Early Warning System Rules, Adaptive Release rules for content, project ASTRO which is an acronym for Advanced System Tracking and Reporting Online), or as an add-on (Provost Pulse).

With the impetus being on ubiquity these days, it will have to be seen whether there are tools for Blackboard or Quia that can help enforcing that students use specific computers (maybe via IP address of computer?).

Beyond these solutions, there is an entire research area for, and software market revolving around, student retention management which also covers attendance tracking. Notable players include Hobsons EMT® Retain and Starfish Early-alert (which is run by a former Blackboard VP and can be integrated with Blackboard student data system as a building block).

 

I suggest we invest our limited local resources into finding better ways to integrate and train on these existing central facilities that provide information on learning (which we then can use to refine our teaching). Given current circumstances, I would recommend exploring the tracking systems in Quia and Blackboard (not restricted to being used on the LLC computers) and tracking learning outcomes (like student language recordings which the LLC can help with – not as much with the digital recording technology which is being commoditized, but rather with providing a language learning shared/collaborative/meeintg space).

 

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