Blackboard Tip: Use Discussions to Take Attendance

This Blackboard tip comes courtesy of Jan Rowe, MCC information technology instructor and content lead for INFO 1001.

Blackboard has no mechanism for taking attendance.  Although this won’t affect the online classes, it is going to be messy to take attendance old school with attendance sheets.  The work around I have developed uses discussion forums, but you could adapt it and use quizzes if you want to. I chose discussion forums because it was easier to set them up.

How to Set Up Attendance Discussion Forums

Go to Course Management > Course Tools > Discussion Board and select the Discussion Board with your course ID.

Using Create Forum, create an attendance discussion forum for your first week:

  • pick a title like Week 1, Session 1 Attendance.
  • In the message box use something like “Each week there will be a phrase or code written on the board.  Use this discussion board to register your attendance with the code or phrase provided.” This will show up when the students open the box to create a thread.
  • Select the “Participants must create a thread … ”

    • If it’s a standard forum and not post-first, students could just copy each other with the “PIN” rather than have to know it themselves by being present in the classroom.
  • Select No Grading
  • Set up date/time restrictions (if you want — you’ll be able to see when they posted to see if they “cheated”) to make the forum only available when your class is in session.  I make sure I give it a bit of extra time (i.e. my 8 a.m. class is set up for 7:30 to 9:50 a.m.).
  • Do not allow subscriptions
  • Save

Then using the copy function, copy this for the remaining attendance discussion forums — one for each of your sessions (once weekly classes will have 11 sessions, twice-weekly will have 22).  I found it easier to create one forum and then use the chevron to copy since all you have to do is change the title and select the discussion board and click submit.

Before each session, I add a course link called attendance to the discussion forum in the appropriate module.  To do this, navigate to the appropriate module under Lessons and then (edit mode on), click on Tools > Discussion Board and choose the right forum to link to. You can delete this link to the forum after your class session; it doesn’t delete the forum, which you can access via Course Tools > Discussion Board.



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Posted in Blackboard, Blackboard Learn for instructors
2 comments on “Blackboard Tip: Use Discussions to Take Attendance
  1. Jeff says:

    Thank you for the tip! One question though: how to make sure one student in the classroom won’t send the code to his/her friend in the dorm, e.g. and his friend won’t also be able to register the attendance forum?

    • IDS@MCC says:

      Hi, Jeff!
      You’re right — you can’t quite prevent a student from texting/emailing/etc. the code. I think you can help minimize the chances of that by setting the availability of the forum to just the first few minutes of class, but I do understand that that’s not a perfect solution.

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