Frequent absenteeism is a problem with online learning. The reasons are manifold. Poor network connectivity, inadequate digital infrastructure leading to disconnections, student fatigue, and more. Most students now hold the power to “leave” a classroom since that action has been reduced to the pressing of a button. With the online learning system, educational institutions are also finding it a challenge to “mark a student present”. Wavering attention spans, screen fatigue, and sometimes, flippancy make tracking student attendance important. Pre-Covid19 times, classroom management was easy and is probably regarded as something that cannot be replaced in a virtual world, like lesson delivery and assignments. This problem is prevalent with students of younger classes due to their short attention spans. Students who are logged in, might not be concentrating on the lessons, thereby failing to retain important lesson concepts. There are plenty of software tools that mechanically mark the presence of a student in a class but an institution should also implement methods to maximise student retention capacities in the class. This can be done by means of periodic breaks and Q & A sessions conducted mid-classes and other measures.
Managing and increasing student attendance can be made easy with best practices. We cover some software features, present in LMS or school ERP systems to track student attendance as well as the qualitative aspects of them.
Daily attendance dashboards:
This is the simplest way to record and track attendance and most LMSs have this feature in-built in their offering. Institution administrators and teachers can access live attendance activities for their classes. It is typically marked by a student log-in with school credentials or via an invitation to attend online classrooms. Class rosters can be historically viewed and reports can be generated for tracking and data recording purposes.
Having a central, updated view of attendance reports provides transparency to parents who have the power to enforce attendance and/or justify absences. By having the parent involved in shaping the online behavior of children, absenteeism can be reduced drastically. This is useful, especially in lower classes where supervision is needed to maintain online class decorum and ensure attendance.
It is envisioned that the future of schooling is going to be hybrid. In such cases, having an attendance management system that can capture and update student presence in classes held physically and virtually, can help with effective tracking. Even when there are multiple devices of a single student hooked on the LMS, duplication of attendance can be avoided with this feature.
Below, we cover some tips on increasing student attendance reducing the instances of drop-outs:
Establish and reiterate classroom guidelines:
The management of most institutions understands the importance of this preliminary step in conducting online classes. The decorum of an online class needs to be as close to the physical classroom as for lessons to carry on without interruptions. This is important for younger students and vital for parents to be around when these class guidelines are listed out. Instructions related to the timing of questions, where to access lessons, permissions to “drop out” of the classroom, and other rules must be stated to students and parents. These instructions must be made arbitrary and enforced by the teacher or the teaching assistant when there are defaulters. Periodic flagging of improper behavior instills a sense of diligence and sometimes, a positive fear of judgment from peers in the student.
Independent learning is a feature of higher classes, which doesn’t require frequent monitoring from the teacher. The seriousness of lesson completion and additional learning, if needed, is mostly present in the student therefore, the teacher can stick to the basic mandate of marking the physical presence of a student in the class. With younger classes, the task gets a bit tricky. Teachers have to deal with an impatient, non-responsive, and technologically unaware pool of students. Educators for these classes have to plan effective lesson engagement strategies to augment concentration and discipline. Activity-based learning is the way to go with frequent check-ins on the student’s progress. For younger classes, getting the support of parents for the first few sessions to set expectations from the student greatly helps in carrying the behavior forward. The classroom guidelines also need to be reiterated at every opportunity.