How to Track Student Attendance in Microsoft Teams?
Table of Content
Microsoft Teams has become an important tool in the post-COVID world. It provides one of the best possible interfaces to conduct online meetings and classes. It is used by 91% of Fortune 100 companies. Apart from that, It has also seen success in the education industry and is being used across the world to conduct online classes.
The education industry is using Microsoft Teams to conduct online classes for their students. However, one problem a lot of educators are facing is the inability to track the attendance of the students for classes with the software. It is possible for students to log in to the class and leave in the middle of it. This isn’t a problem in a class of 5-10 students since a teacher can easily notice someone that’s offline. However, most online classes can contain upto 50 students. It can also be more than that in the case of high school and college students.
Microsoft Teams does not provide a way to capture or mark in and out times. So how should a teacher go about understanding and finding out which students attended the lecture and which did not? In this blog, we are going to discuss this very thing.
Microsoft may not have a dedicated attendance feature but there are two to track attendance for your students. They are:
- Time-Tracking Apps
- Downloading Attendance Sheets
Time Tracking Apps
Microsoft Teams has its own version of an app store. These contain apps that can be integrated with Teams to make workflows easier for organizations. There are various dedicated time-tracking attendance apps.
How Time Tracking Apps Work
Time Tracking Apps are designed for businesses but they can be applied for students too. It is not very difficult to set them up. Since time tracking software provides specialized widgets for Microsoft Teams, it becomes very easy to track your students.
Once a time-tracking software is installed in your Team, it will start tracking students the moment they log in to attend their class. If they leave in the middle of the class, the software can point it out. As an administrator, you can set the minimum amount of time a student needs to be online and in the class call with your tracking software.
At the end of the session, you can simply check the attendance from your tracking dashboard and filter out the students who didn’t stay online for the specified amount of time. A tracking app can do much more but as an educator, those features don’t necessarily apply to you.
Time Tracking Apps for Microsoft Teams
Here is a list of popular time tracking apps that can be integrated with Microsoft Teams:
- Attendance Bot
- Time Ghost
Advantages of Time Tracking
Though time tracking may seem complicated and, at times, a little constricting, there are definite advantages for the students and the instructors. Here are a few of them:
- Improves productivity
- Helps manage time better
- Improves focus
- Increases accountability
Students, in general, tend to get distracted and lose track of time. When they have a defined time limit to complete an assignment or a project, the chances of sticking to a schedule are better.
Everyone has a favorite subject and a subject they hate studying. This means one might end up spending more than 4 hours on literature and have only an hour left to finish their math assignments. When you track the time you are spending on each subject, you can allocate time accordingly.
Instead of switching between multiple tasks without a plan, you tend to improve your focus on the task at hand when you manage your time with a good time tracking tool. This way, you develop a clear idea of exactly how long you will take to complete a certain assignment.
As you start tracking your time, it forces you to be accountable for your time. Not only that, the instructors can develop a clear picture of how their students are using their time.
Disadvantages of Time Tracking
Time Tracking might just work for your school and students. However, it does carry some significant disadvantages. Here’s a few:
A Time Tracking software tracks more than time. If a student tabs out of MS Teams, the software will stop tracking. This can be an issue if your teaching style involves switching to online notes and back to video calls.
A time tracking system can usually be considered a breach of privacy in some places. It is recommended that you confirm if it is allowed where you’re living and teaching.
Time Tracking software is usually very expensive.
Downloading Attendance Sheets
This is the second alternative to time tracking your students. Microsoft Teams provides a nifty feature that is essentially a workaround for the lack of a separate attendance tracking feature.
When you end a session with your students, you will see a download button in the attendees tab.
When you click on the download button, it downloads an excel sheet. This sheet shows timestamps of when a person logged in and logged out. You can then use Excel filters to filter out the students who left early.
Advantages of the Attendance Sheet feature
The attendance sheet feature, despite its unpopularity among students, has some distinct advantages. Let’s take a look:
- Accuracy of records
- Improved focus & discipline
- Provides a wide overview
Human errors are eliminated simply by using the attendance sheet feature in MS Teams.
With a strict attendance system in place, students will avoid going late to the classes for fear of losing their attendance and learn accountability in the process.
An integrated attendance sheet feature helps you get a wide overview of the entire class or an individual student. This helps instructors spot patterns and draw meaningful insights.
Disadvantages of the Attendance Sheet Feature
The Attendance Sheet Feature is rudimentary at best. Here are its disadvantages:
A person may join the class, mute themselves and tab out going about doing other things online.
In a class, where students have multiple video sessions on the same day, downloading and filtering each session’s attendance can be a tiring job for the educator.
It is clear that the attendance sheet feature is an afterthought meant for educators using the software. It could have more functionality and needs to be developed further.
The Bottom Line
Both Time tracking and attendance sheets have significant disadvantages. It comes down to an educator’s preferences as to what they choose. If I had to choose, I would simply say that you should avoid both of the options.
Trust your students a little bit. As long as you keep the classes interesting, students won’t bother skipping your classes. Nobody skips their favorite classes. That being said, there can be an alternative way to track your students. You can create a time tracking app. With this app, your students can punch in the time they begin their classes on their smartphone and then punch out at the end of a session.
If you are wondering how you can create an app, we suggest you try AppyPie AppMakr. Our app building software is completely codeless and lets you create an app with a few simple clicks. Try it out!