As a Technology Fellow, I have been working to find ways to incorporate new technologies into my classes and assignments. With the semester about to begin, I wanted to share two simple technologies that have consistently been saving me a lot of time and frustration. While the first simply limits the number of emails in my inbox (using Google Appointment Slots), the second can have a major impact in the classroom and the relationships you form with your students early in the semester (learning their names quickly).
Google Calendar Appointment Slots
I use Appointment Slots in my Google Calendar to have students sign up for office hours and appointments with me. Instead of students emailing me to sign up for an appointment when they can’t come to my office hours, they click on a link that I post on Moodle and in my email signature (thanks Anthony Graesch for this great tip!), and can see my availability and sign up for an appointment that works for their schedule. Last year, Jessica McCullough, wrote this Engage Blog Post with two videos that walk you through how to use Google Appointment Slots.
Learning Student Names by Taking Attendance with Roll Call
Learning the names of my students has often been a challenge for me. With the beginning of each semester and endless to do list, I often felt that it was taking me far too long to learn my students’ names. I had tried numerous approaches to learning names and faces, including using name tags in class and downloading their pictures from Moodle, but often found these strategies lacking. In particular, using the Moodle photos was challenging since their photographs were often a few years old and never seemed to look like the students sitting in front of me.
About a year ago, I began looking into a way to tackle this issue. In searching for an easy to use application, I came across Roll Call, an App for iPad that has made both learning my students’ names and taking attendance much easier. The App costs $1.99, and is very intuitive and simple. It now takes me no more than a few class meetings to learn everyone’s names, just by taking attendance using their photos.
When you open the App, you simple click on the “+” at the top right corner to create a new class. After entering the name of the class, a new class appears on the App’s main screen. (Click on images to see a larger version)
If you tap on the class, a new page opens:
Here, click on the “+” on the bottom right corner to add new students to the class. I only use the “first name” and “last name” fields.
I enter all of my students’ names before the first class meeting, so that on the first day of class, the students can take pictures of themselves and add them to the App. I ask the students to pass around my iPad and take their own photos. To do this, they simply click on their name, which opens a new page. Then they click on the “Edit” icon at the top right. Finally, they click on “Tap to Edit” on the blank photo and select “Take Photo” from the menu.
This opens the iPads’ camera and the students can take their photo, and save it by choosing “Use Photo” (they usually have their neighbor take their photo for them).
Once all the students have entered the photos, you can begin using the App to learn their names as you take attendance. On the screen for the class, the students are by default listed as “Absent” and their photos will appear in black and white. By choosing “Today” at the bottom of the screen, you can set the correct date.
After setting the date, choose “Roll Call” at the bottom of the screen. This will open the “Roll Call” screen, and as you click on each student’s photo, they will be moved to “Present” and will now appear in color. Once you have taken attendance, choose “Done.”
You can keep track of your attendance by clicking on the “Reports” icon at the bottom of the screen, setting the dates you want to review, and clicking on “Preview”.