Attendance (plugin)

Quick, simple Attendance?

Picture of Martin Mulhall
Quick, simple Attendance?
My agency offers the kind of standard training that Moodle works well for - students, organized into sessions, with regular tasks and assignments. Moodle will work BEAUTIFULLY for that type of learning.

Much of our training, though, is offered differently. Our employees work in teams, of which there are hundreds working each day. From 60 up to 150 of our work 'teams' of 2-8 employees can be assigned to come to our training facility each day to attend short-duration training of around an hour, sometimes two. This training is conducted by an instructor, each instructor teaching 1-30 teams throughout each day.
Each instructor can offer between 1-10 different 'drills' in the training period. Sometimes, the employees will get trained on a single drill, sometimes multiple quick drills.
Our traditional system has been paper-based, where the team of employees would sign in on the top half of a paper form, and the instructor would pick the drills performed from a selection of checkboxes on the bottom half of the page. There are around forty drills to choose from. Additionally, our 'teams' are dynamic - each team is 2-6 employees from the same work unit, just with different employees working each day.

This is hands-on training (we are a municipal public safety agency) and we want the instructors to be able to:

  • pick users from a list of employees in the same work unit (work unit being a custom profile field)
  • pick training from a list of drills
  • do 'instant' attendance, where each user selected for the training is marked as 'present' and the drill is marked as 'complete.'
  • record the training the same way, as many times as each employee attends that training - ie repeat training events by the same employees are expected.

I have gone over the attendance plugins, the checklist plugins, and the database plugin, and I'm just not getting it. I know that this is bending the Moodle architecture a  little bit, but I also feel that this is a training model that Moodle can accomodate.

Is there a way to do this that I'm just not seeing? Or are we looking at a custom solution?

Thanks (in advance)
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Picture of Emma Richardson
Re: Quick, simple Attendance?
Documentation writersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developers

Do the employees actually do the drill in Moodle?

I think you might look at groups and restrictions - I am going to presume (probably wrongly! wink) that there are blocks of drills that are normally attempted together.  You could create groups that are assigned to certain drills and then assign the employees to the groups.

As for attendance, I guess I would just use the completion settings for the activities - however, the attendance module does allow for students to mark themselves in attendance so that might help.

The latest (well maybe the upcoming) version of Moodle will also allow teachers to mark activities complete for students - something else that will or might help.

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Picture of Martin Mulhall
Re: Quick, simple Attendance?

Thank you so much, Emma!

Yes, there are blocks of drills that will be normally attempted together, but there are no guarantees that all of the drills will be conducted each time - the training is very fluid.

We're a large municipal fire department. Each day, 60 or so fire companies are selected for attendance at training. The schedule is set the night before, but it is only a suggested schedule. The fire companies are dispatched to training as a fire 'run' (non-emergency response) and if they are called out on fire duty at 8:59AM, they won't be given their training run at 9:00AM.

So a different company would be selected (training must go on!)

An additional complication - we can only typically see the fire company's work 'attendance' (kept in an Oracle system which we can ODBC into) after 9:00AM and 6:00PM, when the shifts change. Training 'runs' are dispatched at 9:00AM, 12:30PM, and 6:00PM.

And, no, this training would be hands on/demonstration type training, with the students NOT logging in to the system. Only the instructor taking attendance, and with quite the feat of programming if he/she was to see the 'students' expected to be there.

We would be very satisfied if the instructor could search for the students by filtering down to their profile field of 'work unit' and then selecting the 2-8 employees from the 25-30 employees listed. Instructor would then pick which drills to give them credit for.

I'm thinking we may need to fully explore the database activity, and custom forms, too.

Moodle IS going to be our platform for our traditional long-form higher-education type training. We just need a couple of key insights and we'll be on our way for overall training record-keeping.

Thanks again.

PS - perhaps we could approach our daily training like a sort of 'tutoring'  or extra help module? All users could optionally attend, none are scheduled or enrolled beforehand, and the 'tutoring' topics could be fluid from session to session? Maybe someone has done something similar to that...

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Picture of Emma Richardson
Re: Quick, simple Attendance?
Documentation writersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developers

Groups could still help here.  Look at the autogroup plugin - this will automatically group students based on certain profile fields.  That way, you can at least group by fire dept which should speed things up when looking for students.

Database might help or maybe just create an assignment for each set of drills each day (just list the drills in the assignment description and then uncheck all submission forms) and then just assign the groups to that.  

Or, preferably, while it would create a lot of courses, it would be cleaner to create a different course for each set of drills and then just enroll the appropriate firefighters to each course.  This would also deal with duplicate drills and be a much more efficient way of record keeping as it would be using Moodle as intended.

Look at the sharing cart plugin - you could create an activity for each drill, copy them all to the sharing cart, then just pick and choose the drills for each new course in the morning.  (Sharing cart is specific per user so teachers would initially have to copy activities into the sharing cart).

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