Attendance in Blackboard (or, Seeing my Name “in print”)

Funny how this whole blogging thing works.  Sometimes, I’ve written a draft or I’ve thought about publishing a post on a topic, but for whatever reason I didn’t actually write the post.  Today is one of those times.  I could have sworn I’d written about this before, but apparently I have not. So here goes….

In Spring 2014, we began the process of migrating from ANGEL to Blackboard.  As anyone who has used both systems knows, there are some pretty significant differences between the two systems.  There are certain things that one can do in one but not the other, and one of the native elements of ANGEL that is missing from Blackboard is the ability to track attendance.  We tried the Hardin-Simmons (formerly Baylor) Attendance Building Block, but encountered a few issues with the configuration (long story), and decided to look for an alternative solution.

We are piloting the new Qwickly Attendance tool this semester and are quite satisfied with it so far.  The folks from Qwickly (Twitter: @QwicklyTools) have been incredibly helpful and responsive to each issue we have experienced.  There have been several updates since the initial release of the Building Block, and each update has added significant functionality to the Building Block.  The new update (3.2) is rumoured to bring even more functionality, but I won’t install that on our production server until after the semester is over, as the new version is not backwards compatible with previous versions.

The building block is simple to install  and configure, and even simpler for faculty to set up and use.  I created a video for our faculty that provides a quick review of how to set up and use the tool in a course.  You can check it out below.

Now, I must admit, I’ve been taking a different sort of attack for support with this tool, and it seems to be working very well.  While I do make the traditional support requests via Qwickly’s site, I’ve also taken to publicly stating my issues on Twitter.  Each time I’ve done this, they have responded almost immediately to my concerns.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel that I must mention that I was asked by Qwickly to answer a few questions regarding why we chose to pilot the building block, and what benefit I saw from using it.  My comments were included in their press release and appeared in an article on eCampus News.

As we near the end of the semester, I will post another update to this post to share how the pilot ended, but so far, things are looking quite promising.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or (gentle) criticisms, reach out!

~R

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