The problem with paper based attendance sheets is that they usually look messy with names added and crossed out. There is also often minimal space on paper to add marks, notes, emails and rarely attach photos. Plus I’m sure many teachers forget or misplace their paper rolls from time to time.
This is where the Attendance app really shines for teachers that carry their iPhones in their pockets each lesson anyway. Once students’ names are input into the attendance app (more on this point later) it’s easy to keep accurate rolls, plus add students’ grades, photos, email addresses and class notes each day. The app allows you to easily view and email attendance records, email a student or a group of students, plus it has additional features mentioned below.
- There are multiple ways to input students’ names including…
- You can type them via the iPhone / iPod Touch Screen
- Importing a CSV attachment file via email
- Importing a CSV file via dropbox (my preferred method)
- You can easily sort students via first name, last name or even manually re-order students to match a seating plan
- You can customise the attendance statuses e.g. present, absent, late, excused etc.
- Photos can be added via the iPhone’s camera, via your photo library or via your address book. You can then view students’ photos next to their name when taking attendance.
- You can add any notes next to a class name, on a date or next to individual students
- From within the app you can email all students in a class, send an email only to those absent or email individual attendance reports to each student
- You can backup / restore your data to your Dropbox account (this feature I love) or you can email the database to yourself.
- The app even allows you to choose students at random
Ease of use
Once you get use to the Attendance app it is very functional and easy to use. It’s as simple as pressing the class name, adding the date plus time and entering absent students.The most difficult part at the start is getting your head around how to input all your students’ names. If you only have a class of 30, then inputting each name via the iPhone screen manually may be the best way. But if you teach several classes with 100+ students and you can copy and paste the names from another database, then you will need to watch the attendance app tutorials here to understand .csv files and importing options.
The Attendance App for the iPhone costs $5.99 in Australia. I definitely think this is good value considering I have been an impressed user for almost 12 months now. The developer David Reed is a teacher himself, teaching computer science at a University in Columbus, Ohio. He is constantly updating the app and its features and he personally applies to emails and suggestions from many users. Over the past 12 months there has been a number of things I thought needed improvement. Like a mind reader David Reed has improved the quality of the tutorials on the Attendance app website, included the ability to add notes next to students’ names and allowed for better interaction with Dropbox (one of my favourite iPhone apps).
For less than the price of 2 coffees, I would definitely recommend this app to any teacher with an iPhone. If you can devote a small amount of time inputting your students’ names into the Attendance app, you will be impressed by the ease of use and the functionality this app provides. I believe David Reed has done, and is doing, a good job creating this app from a computer science C++ development point of view. However I personally think it would really be a major step forward if he consulted a graphic designer about making the interface more attractive, possibly with a bit of colour.