By the end of November, Eastern Michigan University undergraduate students will be presented with the opportunity to record their attendance to Learning Beyond the Classroom and other specified events through the code reader quick response system.
The plan was developed by the Quick Response Implementation Team which consisted of Chris Foreman and Theresa Dark of general education, and Christine Deacons and John Williams of academic affairs. EMU has utilized the provider codeREADr.com for the attendance tracking process.
Williams said the company’s technology has given the team the capability to accomplish the process and that the code reader group is really the “engine that drives the whole thing.”
According to Deacons, Williams had proposed the idea and the two of them began talking about the process, which they decided would be used to track student activities.
“It sounded to me like they were looking for a flexible solution to start using technology if it was available to track LBC event attendance and so we started investigating some different technologies,” Williams said.
He also mentioned that in the past, the team had looked at card swipe systems, but those systems had prohibitive price points. In regards to the code reader process, Williams said, “This was a very flexible, very customizable and extremely cost effective system that could be easily administrated.”
Williams said the team did some tests that showed promise. They have begun the program on a limited basis, having close to 700 students who have been provided labels. The team has been testing them at a study table environment.
Foreman said that the goal for this semester is to begin the distribution process. The team seeks to provide all undergraduate students with the codes. The students will be able to stop by McKenny Hall to receive their individualized QR code, which indicates their name and email address. At different events, there will be code readers so that when the student passes their QR code by the reader, it immediately shows they were there.
Undergraduate students are already required to attend LBC events, but have to sign in on a sheet of paper and sometimes the list gets lost or there is no sign-up sheet at all.
Foreman said, “The benefit to the student in the short-term is that you aren’t getting lost in the system. We’re tracking accuracy; we’re actually tracking if you’re attending the events. In the longer run, we would know, as a university, everything you’ve done in co-curricular.”
Deacons said it also helps the administration to figure out who is attending different events and what those events are. The team would then get an idea of which events are popular and whether they should offer more of those particular events.
Williams said the system is secure and there are no privacy issues. He said that if a student chooses not to let the system know that they have attended an event, that student simply doesn’t have to scan their ID or label.
“I think in the past, students have been in somewhat of limbo in terms of knowing where they are with their various credits and attendance,” Williams said.
He also said that eventually the students will be able to attend an event and then go online the next day and see for themselves what they have attended.
“If something isn’t there, we have steps in place where they can contact the appropriate people and we can follow up and make corrections a lot more easily instead of sifting through boxes of papers,” Williams said.
Major advantages of the process include availability, security and accountability.
Foreman said that for now the process is only directed at undergraduates, but the team finds that there is potential for the system down the road. She said that eventually the graduate school might decide that they would like something similar for their students.
Foreman said that they have already met with the campus life, theatre, art and music and dance departments, and would set them up as the primary users of the code readers.
“We have them ready and in position as soon as we kind of give them the go-ahead that we’ve begun to distribute the QR code labels to the students,” Foreman said. “That will just be a roll-out start this semester.”
Williams said the process is a bit of a cultural change in terms of getting the students to treat the label like a necessity.
He said the only disadvantage would be if the label was lost or became unreadable for whatever reason. Even then, he said there is a 24-hour turn around time to get a new one.
If a student owns a smartphone, they can simply download a QR code application onto the phone and hold it up to the code reader.
“The technology might change, but the accuracy and flexibility will remain consistent,” Williams said.
Foreman said they are hoping to implant the QR code permanently on the student’s ID card, but that would only be for new students from this point forward due to cost and time. She said major advantages of the process are that it is very evolving and cost efficient.
Williams said, “The biggest responsibility we have is to the student and this, honestly, in my opinion, is the best thing we can provide to them because it’s going to get them a system where what they do gets counted and they don’t have to worry about it. They can focus on the events; they can focus on their education and not worry about writing their name down somewhere.”
Students can begin picking up their QR code labels starting the Monday after Thanksgiving Break Nov. 26, and continue through the end of the semester. The distribution process should end during the beginning of winter semester. The initial distribution will be in McKenny Hall.