For those of you who have never used the mobile portal, there are some great tools here designed to make your life easier. For those who have used them, we’ve made a few updates that we hope will make your experience even better.
Taking attendance may not be the most exciting thing we do, but using ACU Mobile, it’s easy. And taking attendance on your iPhone or iPod touch is a great and easy way to help mobile learning at ACU.
Taking attendance this way can also bring some added benefits. First, because of the picture/name combination, ACU Mobile’s Roster tool can help you learn the names of your students more quickly (there’s even a “Learn names” game you can play, where the names get hidden until you tap on a picture). And because the Roster tool automatically sends an email message (by default) to anybody who missed class, you can open lines of communication with your students (with no effort on your part) that initial research indicates may help students miss less class. Finally, because of the way the Roster tool shows attendance trends, you can easily see when students are starting to slip behind, and can hopefully intervene to help.
First, load ACU Mobile on your iPhone or iPod touch, either by typing “m.acu.edu” into your browser or by tapping the ACU icon on your home screen.
To add an icon to your home screen, just load ACU Mobile into the browser and click the + on the bottom center of the screen. You’ll see this window pop up:
Click “Add to Home Screen” and you’ll have a custom icon you can tap from the screen that shows all of your other apps–no more having to enter web addresses by hand. By the way, you can do this with any of the 3 tabs in ACU Mobile, with any of your class rosters, with your class blog, or with your files. Just make sure the window you want is displayed on the screen when you tap the + and that’s the one that will load when you tap the new icon that will appear on your home screen. This means you could have multiple icons–one for each class, for example. And if you want to have an icon that takes you straight to a class roster for attendance, just pull up that screen (instructions are below) and click the + and then “Add to Home Screen.” Give it a name you’ll remember and voilà!
Once you’ve brought up ACU Mobile, tap the center “My Mobile” tab to show the academic tab, which looks like this:
From here, tap the “Classes” icon. You’ll be presented with a full list of your classes for this semester:
Tap the class you want, and you’ll find a screen providing access to a variety of information and class tools. You can access the class roster to take attendance, email your class, access the mobile version of your class blog (if you’ve set one up), access the course calendar, or deploy a NANO tool poll. The screen looks like this:
Tapping “Class Roster” will show you your students’ pictures and names. It may look a bit different from the one you saw last year (or even on Monday), but there are some great new features. The main screen will look like this:
To mark someone absent, tardy, or excused, just tap on that student’s picture and their attendance status will change. By default, all students are marked “present”:
Keep tapping, and the attendance status will cycle through and back to “present.”
When you’ve finished with the whole class, you can tap the “Submit” button at the bottom of the screen to submit your attendance. If you need to make changes, you can resubmit later in the day (“Submit” will have changed to “Update”).
You may have noticed the icon at the top left of the Roster screen. By default, it’s set to “Auto Notify” and looks like this:
This means that any students not present will receive an automatically-generated email alerting them to their attendance status. If you’d like to be able to add a custom note to the automatic message, tap the icon once and it will change to this:
Now, when you tap the “Submit” button, a new window will display allowing you to enter whatever message you wish to add:
If you don’t want to notify your students of their attendance status, tap the icon again and it will change to this, turning off email notification:
No matter what notification option you’ve chosen, however, you’ll still get an email with the day’s attendance so you can keep records if you wish.
You may notice a couple of little bars centered below each student’s picture in the images above. This is the start of a trendline that shows student attendance over the course of the semester. Each class day that you take attendance with this tool, another bar will be added to this trendline–green for present, gold for tardy, red for absent, and blue for excused (with absent and excused placed a little lower than present and tardy). That way, you can quickly see a student’s attendance history and track absence trends, just in case you need to intervene.
To learn your students’ names, just click the “Learn Names” icon at the top of the screen. All the names will be hidden until you tap on “Reveal Name.” That way you can quiz yourself–a great thing to do here at the beginning of the semester:
This year, we’ve not only updated these attendance tools, but we’ve also added a new one: Random Pick.
When you tap this icon, your device will randomly pick a student and display that student’s name and picture (the picture may take a moment to load, but the name should pop up instantly). This is a great way to increase student engagement randomly and without bias–and it’s guiltless since the machine is doing the picking: