Teaching Tip: Taking Attendance in the Cloud
Recording attendance is important, because the Federal Government requires schools to return some financial aid if a student stops attending early enough in the term.
But taking attendance also has pedagogical value. It certainly helps us learn names, which is a good thing. Even after we’ve learned names, calling roll helps us connect with students each class meeting.
Some faculty have students sign in to keep attendance. Others collect an assignment or a quiz, piggybacking bookkeeping on pedagogy—always a good idea.
If you’d like to record attendance using an electronic device, like your smartphone, you can do so easily using Google Docs, a free part of the Google account that all faculty have with their Gmail.
The first step is to create a form, with each student’s name as a question and multiple choice buttons labelled “present” or “absent,” and perhaps also “tardy” or “excused.” You can always return to edit the form later, if students add or drop the course.
The form saves each submission to a spreadsheet that timestamps the entry. You can email the form to yourself or embed it in a webpage. If you have a smartphone or a tablet, like an iPad, you can bookmark the form and record attendance in the cloud using your mobile device.
We created a five-minute screencast on YouTube that walks through setting up the form: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rZeVgYEA2Y We recommend viewing the clip in the large player or in full-screen mode.
What are your thoughts or questions about attendance? Do you teach with Google Docs in other ways? Send us your tips and your feedback!