Difference between revisions of "Attendance activity"

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[[Category:Contributed code]]
[[Category:Contributed code]]

Revision as of 18:34, 4 April 2009

There are two version of the attendance module: from Dmitry Pupinin and from Human Logic. Both published in the Using Moodle Attendance module forum.

At this time Dmitry's version is more stable and useful.

Download daily build of Dmitry's version

Installation by Moodle Administrator

To install Dmitry's version of the attendance module, follow these directions (provided by Richard Webb in this post). Installation can only be completed by a user having write access to the file structure on the computer hosting Moodle and with administration rights for your installation of Moodle.

Language Files

Moodle has a general language folder with subfolders for installed languages, and language files within these subfolders. This structure allows Moodle to efficiently work in an unlimited variety of languages with relative ease. Every block and module in Moodle has its own language strings that must be defined in a language file with a name specified by the block or module. "In the old days" (meaning prior to Moodle 1.9) the language files for each mod or block were copied into the appropriate subfolders in the
folder. This still works, but can be tedious and is not the preferred method anymore.

Newer versions of Moodle (1.9 and up) allow you to keep the language files with the mods and blocks so they are self-contained and you don't have to do so much work with language files. Older versions of the Attendance module did not have all language files correctly placed resulting in tags that say [[attendance]]. As of June 20, 2008, the problem has been resolved. If you are having problems with the language files for the Attendance module, it is recommended that you download the latest version and replace your current installation as described below.

Additional Language Considerations

You might consider editing the
language file and replacing each occurrence of 'Attendances' with 'Attendance'. Some dictionaries say that attendances is the plural form of attendance while others say there is no plural form.

Note that the date format is controlled by the language file you install. If you prefer Month/Day/Year format, for example, you will want to use the US_en language file found in the block folder.

You can easily edit the date format yourself, if you so desire. These strings show the M/D/Y format.

$string['strftimedm'] = '%%m.%%d';
$string['strftimedmy'] = '%%m.%%d.%%Y';
$string['strftimedmyw'] = '%%m.%%d.%%y (%%a)';
$string['strftimeshortdate'] = '%%m.%%d.%%Y';

Mod and Block Installation

If you look at your Moodle installation, you will see that among the many subfolders in the Moodle folder you have folders named
, matching the two folders in the
folder. Installation is completed by copying the contents of the
folder into your
folder (so you have a
folder with all of the files and subfolders copied as well) and likewise copying the contents of the
folder into your
folder. On a Unix system, something like
/var/www/moodle19/blocks$ sudo cp -r ~/moodle-modules/attendance/blocks/* . 
does the job and similar for the mod directory. Don't forget to
sudo chown -r <user>:<group> attendance
to the same parameters as the other block directories (do a
ls -l
to remind yourself).

Once you have completed the installation, you need to log into Moodle as the administrator and go to the admin page. This will set up the Attendance database structure.

Using Attendance in a Class by a Teacher

Adding Attendance Activity

After the attendance block and module have been properly installed, you (the teacher) must add attendance as an activity to each course you wish to keep attendance in. This is done by first ensuring that you are in the edit mode and then selecting, "Attendance" from the "Add an activity..." pull-down menu. Note that you may only add the attendance activity once per class and it may be located in any of the section blocks. Because attendance is for the entire course, it seems logical to put it in the top box (the one that always shows).

Once you have added the attendance activity, you are ready to start using the attendance module. However, the section link that was just added in the preceding paragraph is the "clunky way" to work with the attendance module. In fact, it is recommended that you simply hide that link! That way students won't see it cluttering up the section block where you placed it. Of course, we DO want students to be able to view their attendance records, just not with that link. There is a second, better, way to accomplish this. Select "Attendance" from the pull-down menu in the "Blocks" block. This will create a block with teacher options to take attendance, report on attendance, or change the attendance settings. The same block will instead have an attendance report for students.

Setting Attendance Categories and Grading Options

Now it is time to set your attendance options. Select "Settings" from the attendance block. This brings you to the letters, descriptions, and grade (points) to assign for the four attendance options. By default these are Present, Absent, Late, and Excused. You may prefer to change the descriptions (e.g., change the word Late to Tardy), change the order, or change the way points are counted so make appropriate changes here to the names, order, and grades. Be sure to click the "Update" button when you are done.

Adding Sessions

Next it is time to add sessions. Note that there is a restriction here. You can only have one session per day. Since you can only have one attendance activity installed (which means that you cannot have a lab attendance activity and a lecture attendance activity) and can only have one attendance session per day, if you have more than one class session per day you will have to be creative in taking attendance. And if you have more than seven class sessions for a single class in a week--then you are overworked!

To add class sections, click the "Add" tab (second from left) at the top of the page (if you left the attendance page, select any of the three links from the attendance block to return to the attendance page and gain access to the "Add" tab). You have two options here, to add a single session or to add multiple sessions. The single session is self-explanatory as well as time consuming to use when you have many class sessions so I will go straight the more useful option, how to add multiple sessions.

Under the "Create multiple sessions" label choose the date for the first session you wish to add followed by the date for the last session you wish to add. Next select the days of the week on which the class meets. The final option, frequency, may look confusing but it is actually straight-forward. If your class meets every week (the normal situation) then you want a frequency of 1 week which is the default. If your class meets every other week, then you want a frequency of 2 weeks, and so on. When you click the "Add multiple sessions" button, your sessions will be created and you will see a message indicating this.

Taking Attendance

Now head to the attendance tab. Here you see the list of all attendance sessions you have added. You can delete an individual session by clicking the X to the right of it. (Personal note, it sure would be nice if there was an option to select a few sessions and delete them all at once--I use the multiple sessions option to put my sessions in for the entire semester and then have to go and remove sessions for vacation days one at a time.) You can edit a session (change the date or add a description) with the standard hand icon to the right of the session, or you can take attendance for a session by clicking the green radio button to the right of the session. Sessions where attendance has already been taken do not have the green button, but instead the description is a link that takes you to the screen to modify the attendance record for that session.

You will note that when taking attendance the column headings for attendance state are links. If you click one of these column headings, all students will have their status changed to the status you selected. Thus, if everyone is absent (God forbid!), you merely click the A and it will change everyone's status to absent. If Little Johnny is the only student absent, you would logically click P to set everyone to present and then go down to Little Johnny and change his status to A. Enter remarks as appropriate (e.g., the reason for an absence if known or the minutes late if someone is tardy) and click OK to complete taking record.


Finally, you have the reports. This is, again, obvious. One of my colleagues prefers to take record on paper and transfer it to Moodle. She suggested printing the monthly report before the start of the month and then taking record on this report. It has an added advantage because you have each student's picture with the record sheet. Of course, that is only useful for students who actually put photos of themselves in for their picture.

A final note here. If you added the attendance block as recommended, you may wonder what it looks like for students. It is completely different--showing a summary of their attendance record and having a single link for them to view the details of their personal attendance. Another reason why I think the attendance block should always be added when you use the attendance module.

Give advice to developer

Have idea about new features? You need something? Please write at Attendance module requests page!

See also