Attendance, Synchronous, and Asynchronous Learning

During this remote learning period, one of the technical challenges that needs to be handled is that of accounting for attendance. While it is necessary that schools develop some mechanism for this, there are multiple possible ways of solving the problem.

I believe there are two approaches to this that schools might consider and we (Jeffco Public Schools) are open to either or a hybrid approach and then sharing collectively what we learn about the benefits and challenges of these approaches.

The first approach is to attempt to recreate the synchronous and time-based systems that exist in a normal school setting, where students all meet together at some predetermined time and duration. Students count as being in attendance for being physically present in the room and are awarded “credit” for being in the class for the requisite time and meeting minimum expectations on their assignments.

In transitioning this traditional model to an electronic format, schools would establish set times and duration when classes would meet together online (via formats including Google Meet, Zoom, or Webex, GoToMeeting) and then take an accounting of all the students who are present in the online forum. Assignments or tasks would be sent to the teacher and then scored and recorded the same way they are in a normal school setting.

The second approach is to use an asynchronous and competency-based model. Using this approach, teachers would regularly post resources (videos, readings, links) and tasks (exercises, problems/projects to solve) on some forum such as a teacher website, Google classroom, or Schoology, or even email. Students would access these resources and task at a time of their own determination (or their parents). “Attendance” would be accounted for by teachers gathering and keeping track of evidence (writings, videos, worksheets, problems/projects) that students completed to a level of competence or mastery as determined by the teacher. In this format, there is no need for the teacher or the students to be online at the same time. “Seat-time” requirements might be estimated by evaluating how much time it would take students to process through the resources and complete the task.

 A third approach might be to create some hybrid model. There are any number of combinations schools might consider.

During this period of remote learning, Jeffco Public Schools is not dictating one approach or another. Rather, we believe that a diversity of solutions will emerge from our schools and then we can share learning and emerging best practices from either or both methods, or possibly other approaches.

Designing the solution to the technical problem of attendance is a great example of how systems, and the people in them, learn. The necessity of solving the problem leads to replication (of what we are used to) and then to innovation.

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