Due to the recent COVID global pandemic, the usual methods of operating schools and colleges have changed. And with these changes, the old operational management systems and processes are not enough to handle the scenarios emerging from these unforeseen changes. More and more schools and colleges are shifting to remote learning technologies by implementing online classrooms.
The online classrooms are helping the management to conduct the classes without any obstacles posed by the COVID and the teachers are learning more advantages with online classrooms that were not known before. So we can expect the schools and colleges to use online classroom tools even after the pandemic is over.
Along with the advantages, there are some challenges faced by teachers and administrators in the way online classes are conducted which is not aligning with the rest of the school operations. Attendance management is one of the key challenges.
How to ensure the regular attendance of all students and even if attendance is achieved how to track the attendance quickly?
How to maintain the focus and engagement of remote learning students?
The following tips will help you in keeping track of the student attendance during online learning:
The tips are equally applicable to schools as well as higher education organizations
1. Manual Attendance
You can take manual attendance like how you used to do during classroom teaching. This can be done through pen and paper(attendance record book) but the process will take some time in marking attendance. And if you are taking note of only the absent students, the process can be completed fast. But the experience is different from offline classes, the students can drop out randomly from online classes and you may not notice the same when the number of students attending the class is comparatively higher than what you can manage.
Because of this, you can try student attendance management system as it accurately record the attendance without putting much effort and at the same time can generate reports in a single click.
2. Google Form for Self-Reporting Attendance
Create an attendance sheet in the google form and share it with the class for self-reporting of attendance with the timestamp.
- Create separate google forms for each class. (Please note the difference between google spreadsheets and google forms).
- Google form is like a poll or survey which the students can fill up to submit.
- The date and time details will be automatically captured by the Google form.
- Students will have to simply fill the form with their names. Also, make the email login to be mandatory to submit the google form.
This can prevent proxy attendance to a certain extend. Even though this method looks simple and perfect it can become cumbersome to manage the attendance this way for every class.
3. Video Call by all Participants (if feasible)
This is the best way to ensure maximum engagement from all students by allowing the camera ON by all the participants.
Again this looks like a good idea but not that much practical because of the high bandwidth it will take up. And all students may not have access to high-speed internet. So one approach can be to enable the video during the starting of the class and disabling the same after the classes are over. This method is also not immune to random dropping out of students as explained in the first point.
4. Questions to Random Students during Class
This is one of the best methods to ensure the engagement of students during online classes. You can ask random questions about the topic being covered in the class. Instead of asking any particular order, pick a random learner, and ask the question. This will motivate all students to focus on the online class. The answers can be taken either as audio or chat provided with the online classroom platform. Ask questions randomly throughout the class.
5. Timed Assignments
The usual assignments process can be improved by adding timing for submitting the assignments. Accept assignments only on a particular time window. If the e-learning platform does not provide this feature, find out workarounds like temporarily deactivating the submission forms, accepting assignments as emails, etc., Connect assignments to the contents provided in each online class.
6. Short Quiz/Poll after the Class
This is one of the best tips in the list that is very effective and easy to implement. Immediately after ending the class, send out a short quiz in the form of a survey or poll to all the students who participated in the online class. There are various tools available for this. Both paid as well as free.
Most of the e-learning platforms and student information software provide this feature by default. It will collect the timestamp and email id of the students along with the answers to the quiz.
Prepare the quiz well before the class start and share it with the learners while the class is ending through the chat available in the online tool or send as email.
7. Discussions During or After the Class
This is an effective way to improve engagement. Instead of one-way communication, engage the learners also to participate in the teaching. This may not be applicable to all subjects and all topics. So it has to be either limited to the start or end of the class. Both ways will ensure students are actively participating in the classroom training
8. Analytics Provided by Education Platform
Instead of trying different workarounds, look for attendance, and participation analytics provided by the learning platform. Advanced software provides attendance and engagement data that can be easily exported. Ask your vendor for more information. If the tools are costly then opt for other tips provided on the list
9. Lesson or Learning plan shared with Parents
For schools as well as colleges it will be a good idea to engage parents also in the online learning process especially if the students are joining from their homes. Parents do not have to participate in the classes, but they can have an overview of what is being taught to the students. This can be achieved by sharing lesson plans in advance before the class. This will keep parents also motivated to track the learning progress of the students.
Other than the tips given above, you can also think about other methods. Some schools and colleges are completely skipping grades based on attendance by introducing accountability based on work done instead of online attendance. You can also think about similar strategies.
Anyhow it is a good practice to keep track of the students who are attending the online classes. Inclusion of the attendance data on the grade book performance is a strategical decision for the management of the schools and colleges. Also if any students are showing low attendance in online classrooms, check for core reasons by contacting their guardians.
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