How To Track Content Access And Student Attendance Online

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Updated on March 13, 2020.

From confidentiality, to proper tracking of students and their whereabouts, there are reasons organizations are hesitant to jump into online learning, let alone on a permanent basis. Fear not, we’ve got your back.

Protecting content for online access

The following are some “tricks” available that attempt to discourage users from grabbing content from the LMS. But the truth is that a person with enough skills and motivation will always figure out a way to do it. This is true for any LMS, or just any kind of online content delivery platform.

There are, however, technologies that could discourage the practice (severely inhibit it but not fully impede it):

Amazon CloudFront. It manages the downloaded content of a website “cache” and makes sure it is unaccessible. It can also add “signatures” to sites and cookies, to at the very least allow to identify users with suspicious usage of video. To enable this the content must be hosted on our cloud. Still I would have to inquire if our engineer team is capable of implementing this.

Use a video player that supports video encryption. This might require the user to install a plugin on their browser. The user might be able to download the video but unable to reproduce it on a regular player. But I don’t think we are able to create a solution with this level of sophistication.

Safe Exam Browser, Respondus LockDown Broswer or similar: While these are originally intended for examination, they could also be a way to serve content that disables functions. But it might be best to consider them as an additional measure.

Also, consider including to legal recourse: Request signed NDAs, policy agreements and similar. Please consult with a lawyer on this one.

Attendance: Were your students really there?

Are you still recording the students attendance using a paper chart? Do you record attendance in Excel sheet? Did you know that you can record students attendance using the good old LMS?

Recording the attendance will give you many advantages over the traditional paper chart methods:

  • You can combine sources of attendance, in case you need to switch from face-to-face to online classroom.
  • Track more details, even
  • You can easily see a students attendance record for a particular month.
  • Students can also see their attendance history as you have recorded.
  • You can easily set all the possible days to record attendance at same time.
  • It also allows you to set point values for Present, Late, Absent etc.

The Attendance plugin for Moodle:

To get started you need to install the Attendance Activity plugin by Catalyst IT’s Dan Marsden in your Moodle. The Attendance activity allows teachers to keep up a record of attendance online by replacing a paper-based attendance register. The teacher adds Attendance as an activity of a course, and then sets up the sessions for which attendance is to be tracked.

Attendance is part of the MoodleCloud suite of plugins.

A new attendance activity can be added to your Moodle course in a similar way as any other activity.

Adding an Attendance activity in Moodle Course:

  • Enter the editing Mode by clicking the Turn Editing On button.
  • Click Add an Activity or Resource.
  • Select Attendance.
  • On the General section of the “Adding a new Attendance” page, you’ll see “Attendance” already entered as the name and a default point scale of 100 selected. Configure them as per your requirements.
  • Click Save and Display to complete the Attendance activity options and begin the process of adding sessions during which you will take attendance.

Adding Sessions:

  • At this point, your Attendance activity has no sessions, so click on the “Add sessions” tab at the top of the page.
  • You have two options for adding sessions: adding a single session or adding multiple sessions. Enter the date for the first session you wish to add. 
  • Now let’s add multiple sessions in it.
  • Expand the Create multiple sessions tab. Check the “Repeat the session above as follows” check box and select appropriate session frequency.
    • Repeat on – Select the days of week when you will week.
    • Repeat Every – Select the frequency of your class. If you are meeting every week then select 1 week and so on.
    • Repeat until – Specify the last date of the session.
  • You can also choose if students can be able to record their own attendance.

Adding Attendance Status:

By default the activity comes with “Present”, “Absent”, “Late”, and “Excused” status. In case you would like to add or remove the status or corresponding points, just go to “Status Set” tab and change.

Taking attendance:

You can take attendance for a session by clicking on the Play/Green radio button on the session rectangle’s right-hand side. Usually, most students are present in class, and only a few are absent. To make recording the absences more efficient, you can click on the “P” at the top of the grid, which will mark everyone initially as “Present”.
To change the setting for a student who was actually absent that day, click in the “A” radio button in that student’s row, to mark him/her absent. When you are done, Click Save Attendance at the bottom of the page.

Attendance Reports:

You can extract different reports from the attendance activity. Go to the attendance activity and click the Reports tab. Here you can check out on Monthly, Weekly, Daily, All, Low Grade students etc.
You can also export the attendance report to MS Excel, Open Office of Text file format.

Attendance Block:

In order to simplify the attendance recording, you can use the Attendance block plugin. It provides an easy way to record student attendance and provides students quick access to a summary report for their own attendance. This block provides quick links to features such as reporting, taking of attendance and adding new sessions.

You can download the Attendance Plugin set from the Moodle plugins directory here. The plugin is among the few plugins available on MoodleCloud – the hosting solution by Moodle HQ.

How you are recording the students attendance for your institution? What are the other Moodle plugins which you are using on your Moodle site? Do share with us in the comments section below.

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