Qwickly is an attendance monitoring solution that is integrated with Blackboard allowing attendance to be recorded in the Grade Centre. The tool is connected to the student photo library allowing academic colleagues to check in students using their photographs for validation.
Qwickly also includes a feature which allows students to check in on their own devices using a PIN code generated in class.
Note: Only the Instructor and Teaching Assistant roles have the ability to add the Qwickly Attendance tool to a module and take attendance.
Add the Qwickly Tool
You can record attendance in any Blackboard area but the typical use case is to record attendance at a module level.
- Login to https://learning.ulster.ac.uk and navigate to your module.
- Select the plus icon in the left hand menu and select Qwickly from the list of available tools.
- Add a name for the tool which will be the link that users select to access Qwickly. Most users choose 'Attendance' rather than naming the link Qwickly.
- Select whether you wish the tool to be Available or not.
- By making the link available to users, both staff and students can access the link but will see different things. Staff will have the ability to record and report on attendance and students will only be able to view their own attendance.
- By making the link unavailable to users, only staff will be able to record and report on attendance.
- Top Tip - When students access Qwickly they do do by the same link you added. The system knows if a user is a student when the link is clicked and presents the student with their attendance record or a link to check in if an attendance session is live.
Typically students will check in to Qwickly on their mobile device and the navigation system in Blackboard collapses to be responsive to mobile devices. This does cause confusion for many and the problem is described in more detail here. To help students navigate to Qwickly easily we recommend also creating a link to Qwickly on the module homepage too. Once the tool has been added to the left hand navigation, go to your module homepage and under the Build tab you will see an option Course Link.
Select Course Link and in the Browse button select the link that you added in the left hand navigation.
The link will then be added to the bottom of the homepage and it's always a good idea to reorder the item by dragging it to the top of the page. When a student logs in on their mobile device they will then see the Qwickly link displayed prominently.
Qwickly will work through the Blackboard Student mobile app but the student will be redirected to the web browser on the student's mobile app, the functionality is not native to the mobile app.
Configure the default Qwickly settings
Select the link that you created when you added the tool. If this is the first time you, or a colleague, has accessed the tool you will be presented with the configuration screen which allows you to specify some default options. Select Begin Set Up. Each setting has some contextual help available by clicking the question mark beside the text. The settings are categorised in to five sections.
- Default Style -this section allows you to specify how you will take attendance, your choices are:
- List - the cohort will be displayed a one long list, with thumbnail images of each student. This option allows you to select the whole class at once and deselecting those who are absent. This option is good if you have a small class and want to take attendance manually.
- One by One - this option displays a large image of each student, together with their name, and is useful for induction sessions at the start of term when Qwickly can help orientate you, and the classmates, to one another.
- Accessibility Mode - this option provides a simplified user interface optimised for keyboard navigation and screen readers.
- Check in - this option allows students to check in on their own devices and you can choose to use a timer or a unique PIN to minimise fraudulent activity. This option is the most convenient for large cohorts but there have been incidents where the PIN number has been shared via social media apps with students who are not physically in the room.
- View Preferences - this section is self explanatory and allows you to specify how attendance is visualised in reports. You can:
- Show absences on the take attendance screen
- Show unavailable and disabled Students in Record - this feature allows you to record attendance for students whose record might be disabled. This is a useful feature if a student's record is temporarily disabled for financial reasons yet they are still attending class.
- Round grades to nearest whole number - students receive an attendance grade out of 100 based on how many sessions they attend. If this number is not a whole number the attendance score will be rounded up or down.
- Record Order - you can choose how the record of attendance will be displayed, either by oldest first or newest first.
- Grade Centre Integration - Qwickly can publish attendance to the grade centre which allows other Blackboard processes to use the data. We recommend that you enable this setting and select the option Total Points. This will create an attendance score out of 100% based on the number of sessions that have been recorded. It is also possible to have a distinct column in the grade centre for each attendance session however this does create a large number of columns which can be confusing for students and create unnecessary administration. Absences can also be recorded in the grade centre however this is typically an advanced option that is not typically necessary.
- Check In - these settings define how students will check in, if you wish them to do so. You also have the option of recording attendance yourself like a traditional roll call. If you select Use Pin, a unique four digit code will be created at the beginning of an attendance session which students must enter before they can check in. You can also define the default time period used by the timer. This is the period of time that students have to check in and is useful to minimise any fraudulent activity.
- Absence Email - you can define the text within the email that students receive when they are marked as absent. This is helpful for pointing students to additional support material or Faculty/School level support. It may also be a good location to ensure students understand how to access Student Support services.
Once the default settings have been configured you will have the option to Take Attendance when you click on the link to Qwickly. Any of the default options can also be changed before you take attendance.
In the example above you can see four tabs:
- Full List - which allows you to record attendance of a whole cohort at once. A small photograph of each student is shown beside their name.
- One by One - this allows you to see a large image of each student on the screen individually and you can move through your cohort one by one. This is not used often unles you have a small cohort or if you want to use the process as part of an induction where all students can see each student's name and photograph as you move through the cohort.
- Accessibility - this option provides a more simple user interface suitable for screen reader or tab based navigation.
- Check In - the most common option which permits students to check in themselves using a PIN number.
This is where you view your cohorts attendance reports. Eacdh student has a row showing their attendance record with a tick for attended and an X for absent. On the top left of this screen there options for Help, Download the attendance data as a CSV file and finalise attendance.
It is often the case that you wish to take attendance for a subset of the whole cohort for times, when a group of students are together rather than the whole cohort. Qwickly makes use of the Blackboard Groups tool to facilitate this and it is necessary to create groups for any subset of the cohort that you will be recording attendance for. The creating groups page shows you how to create groups.
Once groups are created you can switch between group attendance or whole cohort attendance in the Qwickly settings under Student Grouping. You need to do this every time you wish to take attendance for a group. It is always a good idea to switch it back to Single List after taking a group session.
Once the groups setting is applied, you have the option of selecting a specific group from a drop down list.
You also have the option of reporting on specific groups when group settings are applied. A tab appears for each group in the reporting tool.
Tips for using groups
- Set up groups first in Blackboard
- If you don't want to switch between group and whol cohort each time in the settings, you might consider creating one group with all students called 'Full Cohort'.