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Old Dominion develops own hardware for classroom attendance

There’s a growing body of research indicating that classroom attendance is inherently linked to student academic performance and success. In fact, it’s one of the cornerstones of a student’s engagement with campus.

Old Dominion University is the latest to implement an attendance solution, and has done so by constructing its own hardware solution in house. As reported by the Southside Daily, Old Dominion officials have created a check-in device that logs student attendance and provides information instantly and electronically to faculty members.

The system also enables faculty members to reach out to students with repeated absences to offer help, tutoring or counseling. After an initial test pilot conducted this past fall semester, the devices are now set to be made a permanent installation to help boost attendance and performance.

The task of creating an attendance solution fell to a team of seven Old Dominion IT members back in January 2018. Their task was to develop an accurate, inexpensive way to track student attendance.

The resulting piece of hardware is a check-in device that the Old Dominion team believe to be completely unique within higher education.

Prior to the new, automated attendance solution, faculty members had been keeping their own attendance. Some faculty were leaning on solutions that required students to purchase software for their smartphones that would allow them to check in at the front of class. But the new system developed in house is seen as a better, more universal solution.

The check-in devices were first used last fall in 92 math and science classes. Students check in at the attendance reader by swiping their student ID card or scanning a QR code from within a smartphone app. The attendance readers each have 7-inch displays and are deployed at the entrance to classrooms.

Attendance information is processed and immediately sent to faculty members. The early results according to faculty have been promising, with some reporting an improvement in both attendance and academic performance.

In freshmen biology classes, student grades reportedly improved significantly compared to the previous fall semester.

“In the large lecture rooms attendance has always been a problem, and that was reflected in the course final grades. I saw more students in class this fall,” said Tatyana Lobova, master lecturer in biology at Old Dominion, in a Southside Daily interview. “And when students learn directly in class, they are far more likely to succeed.”

The university says that the system has been so successful that every ODU class will deploy an attendance reader by the fall of 2020.

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