Attendance/Scheduling Software

Our team is looking for an app/software that can track the attendance of our team members and allow easy,quick communication between team members. We are currently using Google Calendar and SMS, but its not working well. What do you guys suggest?

I use Remind for mass texting and it seems to work well.

For sign ups for attending events, we usually use google sheets or occasionally google forms.

We have been using Gmail and Google docs to manage our team.

But today, I just found out about TeamSnap from one of my kid’s sports team. It looks pretty good.

Does anyone have experience with this TeamSnap? They have a free plan for less than 30 members, and for unlimited members it is $129.99 a year. We have a large team, and for that price it might be worth it if it makes things easier.

We developed a check in app this year that ultimately failed. So… No help there.

For quick communication Slack works the biggest thing is making sure everyone has the app on their phone with notifications on in some degree.

We have used timeclockfree.com for our software. It’s free and albeit a bit clunky it allows you to manually extract data pretty easily. They also have a mobile app for clock-in/out. On Wave we have a dedicated old classmate that he use for students to clock-in/out and and their logins restricted to only work on that computer. For mentors who track their time for volunteer hours there is a time card function so they can just input what they volunteered.

For attendance, on 2791, we use a Google form for meeting sign-in/out and from there we export the file to Excel and use a pivot table to get all the students’ hours totals. It’s a simple system, but all we’re really looking for is making sure students meet the build season hour requirement to travel with us.

On 1257 (and increasingly on 2791), we use Slack for communication and file sharing. It’s a fantastic resource, allowing for chat channels for each subteam or project, private messages, and easy announcements to the whole team. Plus, they have nice mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone

On 2877 we have a Raspberry Pi with a keypad, screen, and NFC tag reader that we use for attendance tracking with Google Apps Script and Google Calendar.

On our team, we have a scanner system. So whenever we come into the lab we scan in and when we leave we scan out. This was a really easy way to accurately keep track of hours during build season.

MOE uses TeamSnap. As far as I can tell it works well. I have started a slack channel for the team to improve communication and limit excessive emails.

We just use Google sheets - a simple spreadsheet with all the students and all our meetings dates on it. For convenience, we have it printed out per subteam and posted near where the subteam meets - the mentors then can fill it out at the end of each meeting (more or less), and copy it into the spreadsheet once a week or so.

For us, we use it to help determine who gets to travel (50% attendance required) and who gets to letter (80% attendance required, in addition to other items). We play a little loose with those numbers, too… We’ve often made sufficient argument to give someone a letter when they were a couple points short, depending on the circumstances. One year, for example, there was a choir trip that several students attended during week 0, which caused them to miss out on about 2 normal weeks worth of the build season. It’s less about meeting the specific number than it is contributing to the team… but to contribute you have to be at the meetings, and providing the students with those numbers helps to set the expectation for their level of contribution better than a vague statement trying to define how “contribution” is actually measured.

You might get more targeted responses if you would explain what’s not working well.
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For communication our team uses Slack. It is a great resource for communication with the entire team and smaller groups such as each sub team which each have their own channel. In addition Slack has integration with google calendar which automatically posts new events that are added to the team calendar like lab hours and competitions. Slack even sends out a reminder about events in the google calendar. Slack has a ton of other sites that it integrates with such as github.

We also used it with parents at competitions as it has push notifications so it made making announcements at competitions when everyone is spread out easier.

We still maintain a group email with parents and students but primarily communicate through slack now.

We have setup our own checkin system in the lab. We have a checkin computer and each student is given an ID code when they register with our team. The checkin computer is a raspberry pi that is connected to an old monitor. Students login and logout every day on the computer by entering the ID code. The ID codes also bring up a picture of the students so it gives us a quick visual of who is in lab. The computer syncs with a server so we can look up hours from any computer. If a student forgets to log out that day they lose their hours. If you want more information about it let me know and I can ask the mentor who set it up

We still use this.

https://www.chiefdelphi.com/media/papers/2490

Thanks Scott, I couldnt remember what the thread was called. We use an updated version of this now but the core is still the same

I wonder if an automated tool that tracked the times MAC addresses are/were within range of a WiFi router or two, might be a good automated method for keeping track of the warm bodies near a team’s meetings?

It would depend on

  • expecting students to always be accompanied by a wifi transceiver (a phone, pad, and/or laptop) (not such a bad assumption)
  • expecting students to be reluctant to cheat by giving their transceiver(s) to someone else, or by building a special device that would transmit their MAC(s)
  • associating students with their current and future transceivers’ MACs
  • getting the students to have their transceivers turned on long enough to satisfy the team’s bedchecking goals
  • maybe getting the students to trigger an interaction between their transceiver(s) and the routers (I can’t remember if that would happen automatically, by default) (i.e. get the students to attempt to connect with the LAN the router(s) create(s))

I think a relatively painless, 90% automated, inexpensive, attendance tracking system could be build this way; if someone were motivated to do it. The effort would be in developing the user-interface and other interfaces. The detector and transceivers already exist, are already installed, and are well-understood.

Blake

Interesting idea, Blake. Sure, phones/tablets/laptops would automatically connect to a known SSID when in range, but they can only connect to one network at a time, and presumably other networks in range (like a school wide wifi network) may take precedence for the device (either due to precedence settings within the device, or because they were already connected to that network when they came within range) and thus provide inaccurate results. Your wifi router would also need to be connected to the internet, otherwise people would have to be constantly manually connecting/disconnecting when they needed to get online. The good news is that you can easily find an existing router that will maintain connection logs, and you could easily write a small service to log into the router and parse them. Set it up on a cron job and you’re all set.

It might be better to use bluetooth instead of wifi - you can have multiple bluetooth devices connected to a phone at the same time, and it won’t risk killing the phone’s default internet connection. Position it near the entry door so everyone would automatically connect (after they set it up as a recognized device) as they walked into/out of the build space. Your software would then just have to be intelligent enough to detect first/last connections, recognizing that someone may connect a dozen times or more during a meeting as they move around the build space and come within range of the device.

I feel like this is a case of having a solution and trying to engineer a problem to fit it. Its a really cool idea, but it is way more complicated than necessary.

From my end of things, not so much. The problem description definitely came before the solution; and the desire to eliminate forcing most users to remember to cooperate with the system is the motivation.

By putting a WiFi AP or similar device into a promiscuous mode, I think someone could capture all nearby WiFi traffic (or come close enough) and extract MAC addresses from that traffic. I wouldn’t bet my life on it, but I think that doing that would get past the roadblocks Jon described.

However, to save power, and to burnish my tinfoil hat credentials, I frequently turn off my phone’s WiFi when I don’t need it. Anyone with WiFi turned off would slip through the cracks (and that takes us back to asking users to remember to cooperate with the attendance tracking system…).

Blake