There are occasions where a staff member might have need to take attendance at a lecture. The following help guide details how you can use Blackboard to take attendance via students mobile devices.
Please note that this method requires:
- Warnings to students in advance that a mobile device (such as a Smart Phone or Tablett) or laptop are required and that these devices must be on the Wifi before the session starts.
- Enforcement of the attendance capture process, diverting to paper should not be an option (in practice, panicky students can cause extra work).
Summary of the Process
- Set-up of a Blackboard Test in a Blackboard course that the entire class has access to.
- Adding settings to the test which includes a test password.
- Adaptive release of the test to the correct cohort at the correct time and adding your test user.
- Taking the URL of the Blackboard Folder which the test in located and putting it through “TinyURL” or equivalent.
- Creation of a Powerpoint file with instructions on how to check yourself in for attendance, including the TinyURL and password.
- Setting up the Grade Centre to decrease student confusion.
- Releasing to students during the event.
- Checking the Blackboard Grade-centre to see who attended.
NOTE: The eLearning Team do NOT advise that students are permitted to mark their attendance by means other then the above; however where the session leader has permitted students to sign in via other means (such as paper) each one of these students must be later marked in manually via the Blackboard Grade Centre. Please allow between 30 seconds and 1 minute per student.
Step 1: Set-up of a Blackboard Test in a Blackboard course that the entire class has access to.
In order for the following to work, all of your students must be enrolled onto a single Blackboard course.
- Create a new test in your chosen Blackboard course.
- Create a single multiple choice question, for example: Are you attending the event? all answers should be “yes” and should receive 100% of the credit or 100% “Partial credit”.
- Once your test is complete, you should create a folder in a Blackboard content area which will be used for all attendance information to students.
Step 2: Adding settings to the test which includes a test password.
- Click into this folder and choose to add the test to this page.
- Settings should include:
- one attempt only
- a password (avoid any confusing characters such as “l”/”1” or “0”/”O”), make a note of the password).
- Settings should not include:
- Due dates (these will be completed by adaptive release settings later).
- Availability dates (these will be completed by adaptive release settings later).
- Any feedback or score release.
- Keep the test unavailable to students at this time.
Step 3: Adaptive release of the test to the correct cohort/s at the correct time.
- Activate your test student by clicking the eye icon in the top right hand side of the screen.
- Exit the test student by clicking in the top right of the page, however “Keep Preview User Data” (IMPORTANT)
- Return to the folder where your attendance test is located and chose the dropdown icon, click “Adaptive Release: Advanced”
- Create a rule whereby your preview user can see the test, do not add a date to this rule.
- Create a second rule whereby all students can see the test between your chosen dates/times of the class. (NOTE; these must be 2 rules or the test will not open to the class).
- Exit Advanced Adaptive Release and return to the folder where your test will be shown to students, click the dropdown list and click “Edit test options”, change “Available to Students” to “yes”, submit the page.
- Once saved, return to your test user account. Use this account to go through the test and check that your password works as expected and you can complete the test.
- Exit the preview user.
Step 4: Taking the URL of the Blackboard Folder which the test in located and putting it through “TinyURL” or equivalent.
- Go to the folder within which your test has been deployed and copy the URL/link from the Address bar at the top of your internet browser. NOTE: do not take the URL for the test, as this will cause problems later.
- Go to TinyURL or equivalent and paste in the Address so that you receive a new Tiny URL, the link should be short enough to type on a phone quickly. Check the URL for confusing characters such as “0”/”O”, “1”/”l”
- Copy this URL and save it.
- Test the URL, you should be taken to the folder in Blackboard which contains the test. NOTE: Staff testing this may need to go through Duo, however students do not.
- If the URL doesn’t take you to the correct place in Blackboard, repeat this step or your link will not work on the day.
Step 5: Creation of a Powerpoint file with instructions on how to check yourself in for attendance, including the TinyURL and password.
- The eLearning Team have a template file which you are welcome to use for your lessons, please contact the team for a copy of the file.
- Change the URL on the file to be your TinyURL
- Change the password on the file to be your tests password.
- Save the file and prepare to bring it to your lesson.
Step 6: Setting up the Grade Centre to decrease student confusion.
When first tested in lecture theatres with students, several students became confused by the submission process, many failed to answer the question, but did managed to submit the form. These students received a score of “0”. Upon seeing this, these students delayed the start of the lesson by asking questions or causing other disruption.
To avoid students seeing a confusing score upon submission:
- Go to the grade centre/full grade centre and locate the column for your test.
- Click the drop down menu link for the column and choose “hide from students on/off” until you see a spot with red line though at the top of the column. NOTE; do NOT click “hide from instructors” as this will hide the column from you.
- Click “create new calculated column” and “weighted column”, choose your attendance test column from, the left hand side and use the button to move it to the right hand side of the page. Set this to 100% of the score. Click “submit”.
- You will now be back on the grade centre, on your new column, click the dropdown menu icon and choose “edit column information”, change the “primary display” to be “complete/incomplete”.
- Students will now see a tick in “my grades” when they complete the test, regardless of their score. Staff can choose to see the scores in the original test column.
- If you would like to see only students who had missed a class or not checked in, you can now click “manage” and choose “smart views”, create a new smart view to only show the students who have not completed the test.
Step 7: Releasing to students during the event.
- If you have set up the adaptive release properly, the test should automatically appear at the start of your session. To see if this is the case, enter blackboard and see if it is available. If not available, you should check:
- Whether you have set “available to students” to “yes”
- Whether the time or date in the adaptive release is incorrect.
- Whether you have accidentally only released the test to your personal preview user.
- all of the above issues should only take 30 seconds to 1 minute to diagnose and correct.
- When students start to try to complete the test, they will:
- Type the TinyURL onto their phone or computer
- Be re-directed to the blackboard log in page to log into the system
- Enter the folder and see/click the link to the test
- Enter the password which will be on the powerpoint slide
- Click “yes”
- Click “submit”
- Students have now registered their attendance.
Step 8: Checking the Blackboard Grade-centre to see who attended.
You should now be able to enter the grade centre on the course and see who attended in the column for your test. Students should be able to go into “my grades” to see if they have a tick against their name.
If you wish to contact students who did not attend, sort the test column in the grade centre by clicking the top of the column. Tick all students with “-” against their name and click “email”.