Answers to Frequently Answered Questions

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Questions about our attendance capture hardware

How do we accomodate multiple entrances to one lecture theater?

You either put one device in the room and ask students to tap into that one device before they take a seat, or you put one device at each entrance. Each device can be configured with the room/location it's located in, and an optional entrance point in that room/location. 

Can the device be used for purposes other than student attendance tracking?

Yes because the information it captures is generic identification and location information. There is every reason to have the device serving your purpose whatever it may be.

How fast can students scan their attendance?

The technology is designed for speed in an education setting and can scan each student in well under a second, so students can tap in as quickly as they can go.

Is there a biometric version of the device?

We do have a biometric option in development and so do get in touch with us if you are interested in this option.

Can students abuse the system?

Few systems are both fool proof, user friendly and efficient. With the NFC attendance capture device, a student can hand their student ID card over to a friend and have their friend tap them into a session. Keep in mind that tutors, lecturers, administrators and other students will very likely notice a student who taps their friend's card as well as their own especially if it is done frequently. A student who does this for their friend, risks being caught. And their friend is the one who is disadvantaging themselves. The benefits of capturing attendance using NFC far outweigh the opportunity for abuse. See the next question about solutions.

What can be done to mitigate students abusing the system?

One very simple solution is to ensure that staff are vigilant and to foster a student culture of integrity. Another option is to perform occasional random audits of attendance by simply having an administrator randomly visit a class, perform a head count and compare that to attendance recorded at the start of the session. In classes where there is a known problem, the tutor could perform an audit at every session when all students have arrived.

What happens during an internet outage?

The NFC attendance capture device remembers all scans for months and will transmit them when an internet connection is available.

How many scans can the device hold?

There is room on the device's internal memory to hold over a hundred thousand scans and they are retained for 6 months.

How do the scans become registered as attendance in our attendance tracking software?

All the scans for your site are transmitted to a cloud based capture repository every few minutes (the frequency is configurable by you). From there they can be transferred into a attendance tracking software system such as our own software or your existing system. Because the scans are held in a repository, they can be pulled from the repository on a schedule that suits. Some of our customers have their student attendance records updated every 5 minutes. If you don't need near-real-time information the schedule could be daily. 

How can we manage which students have which RFID cards / stickers?

This depends a little on your attendance tracking software - you will need to maintain a list which matches students to their RFID cards / stickers. This is easy with our aPlus+ Attendance software.

Questions about our software

Can absences be logged by on ground staff on specific class dates?

Yes - you choose which staff have access and they can record absences or other information for students in a specific class or for a student across their classes on specific dates.

Can we find out which students have been absent for the last week?

Yes there are two reports which can give you a list of absences or consecutive absences during any period you require. You could run a daily report to identify students who have been absent for two consecutive days, or an afternoon report to find students absent for two consecutive classes, or a weekly report to find students absent for 5 consecutive classes.

Can we track attendance other than "present" or "absent"?

Yes you can define any attendance status you require. You may like to have several different "attended", "absent" or "late" statuses to record different situations. You configure those statuses and specify how attendance rates are calculated. You can also record comments against the student as attendance is recorded.

Can we record historical data for previous terms which is accessible for 3–5 years or indefinitely?

Yes all information is retained. You can choose which date period you would like to view and can easily jump back to past semesters or years when viewing courses or students.

On-demand access to attendance information by personnel in relevant offices and roles

Yes - you choose which of your staff have access and the level of access they should have. Your central administration team can have a high level of access if you require. There are also audit trails to enable tracking of who changed what and when.

Can we have the ability to correct absences when evidence of presence is shown?

Yes this is possible for all staff who have the required level of access.

Does the system support À la carte programming or other adjustments as further needs arise?

The software provides a plug-in framework which enables individual customers to benefit from functionality which is unique to them.

Can various offices (e.g., athletics, band, choir) directly to enter excused absences for specific students on specific days.

Yes if you have those office staff access

Flexible reporting ability so that questions can be asked of attendance data as needs arise that we have not anticipated.

The software provides a number of flexible reports and a high degree of visibility of information in the system and so it is likely that existing reports will cover what you need. We also take customer feedback into account as we continue to develop the software.

A per-student view of attendance records from all classes in the term to keep various offices

There is a student view which shows the timetable of the student and both summary and detailed attendance information so that staff can access all the information they need about each student's attendance on a few screens.

Questions about NFC and RFID technology

What is RFID and NFC?

These are technical terms which are often used interchangeably to describe how a student ID card can be recognised by a device without physical contact. Here's what they actually mean:

  • RFID is an abbreviation of "Radio Frequency Identification" which is a wireless technology that enables a "RFID reader" device to identify "RFID tags" using localised radio waves so that the reader and tag do not need to contact each other. The reader and the tag both have electronics and are capable of receiving and transmitting information.
  • NFC is an abbreviation of "Near Field Communication" which is a standard set of communication protocols based on RFID technology, and enable a RFID reader and RFID tag to communicate with each other provided they support the same NFC standard.

What is an NFC Tag or RFID Tag?

RFID tags contain tiny electronic devices which include a minute integrated circuit, storage and an aerial which can communicate with RFID readers. The tags are sufficiently small and flat to be embedded within plastic ID cards, key fobs and buttons. We often think of these tags as bits of plastic. Tags hold information which can be transmitted to the NFC reader to identify the tag.

Our student ID cards do not have NFC or RFID chips what can we do?

You can easily retrofit an RFID stickers or buttons onto each card. The stickers are inexpensive and easy to apply. You just need to make sure the sticker supports MIFARE / ISO/IEC 14443 which is a standard NFC protocol. You could also provide students with an NFC/RFID key fob or wrist band instead of using their student ID card. Or before your student ID cards are printed you could print onto a blank NFC/RFID card instead of the existing blank plastic cards you already print to.

Where can we purchase NFC enabled student ID cards?

Your existing student ID card supplier or printer will be able to source RFID enabled blank cards and print to them as usual. Because the MIFARE / ISO/IEC 14443 are a popular standard there are many vendors who sell cards and tags and you can easily find them with an internet search for "ISO14443A MIFARE Card‎".

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