Archive | January 2011

Setting up the Attendance App (iPhone/iPad) using Dropbox at the Beginning of the Semester

If you’re not already familiar with the Attendance app you can find reviews on it from, The Chronicle of Higher Education ProfHacker blog posted a review here, and you can also find reviews on the iTunes store page here. A features list can be found here. It is, in my opinion, quite an amazing app if you are a teacher of any kind.


Good news! David Reed, the creator of the Attendance app has recently incorporated Dropbox integration with the app. With that, it is much easier to prepare your courses for the semester. Reed has lots of great instructional videos and documents over at this website (Dave256 Apps), but I thought I would personalize it to the faculty I work with more directly, though these directions could be used by anyone.

We need to begin by filling a CSV file with data for your students. I’ve created an Excel file to get you started, it can then be saved as a CSV file for import into the app. I’ve created two seperate Excel files… one is for the faculty I work with (here), and one for everyone else (here). The difference between the two is that the one for the faculty I work with has a formula for creating our campus email address, the other does not. If you’re using the faculty one, you should copy the formula to fit the number of students you have before you import.

I find that typing the students names into the CSV file helps me to begin the process of recognizing student names and putting a name with a course. You will need to create a different file for each course you want to import. Once you’ve created and filled a course, we need to save the file as a CSV file. To do that (these directions are using Office 2007, but the process would be similar for any other version or application you use):

  1. Click the Office button in the top left-hand corner
  2. Click Save As…
  3. In the drop-down box below the box where you type the name of the file, click and select CSV.

Now we want to put this file in our Dropbox account so that we can access it from within the Attendance app. If you do not have a Dropbox account, you can also email the CSV files to yourself. Now that Dropbox integration is supported though, I find that using it is much easier.

  • If you’re doing this from a computer that you have the Dropbox program installed on, its as easy as saving it to a specific location. Specifically, an Attendance folder within your Dropbox Folder.
  • If you are doing this from a computer without the Dropbox program installed, then you need to login to the Dropbox site, create a folder called Attendance (if there isn’t already one) and upload your created CSV files there.

From the Attendance app itself, importing your course is fairly simple. Assuming you’ve put your CSV files in your Dropbox, and you have the most up-to-date version of the Attendance app, touch the “Add/View” tab at the bottom of the screen and then touch “CSV in Dropbox/Attendance”.


If you haven’t already connected Dropbox to your Attendance app, you will be prompted to login to Dropbox. You should then be able to select from the CSV files in your Dropbox/Attendance folder.

Once you select the CSV file you’d like to import from you will be asked whether or not you want to import the listing into a New Course or an Existing course. If you select New Course then you will be given an opportunity to name the course. I would recommend naming the course based on the naming convention used by your school and including the year and semester in the naming convention (Example: 2011Spring-CIS110-811). Once you’ve done this, touch the “Import” button. Your class is now created!


Stay tuned if you’d like to include pictures of your students in the Attendance app. There will be a post on that another day.

Have a great semester!


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A little about QR Codes

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QR codes or Quick Response Codes are not quite new, but are increasingly visible in our daily lives.  They are quite simple to create, with many online services allowing you to make them, for example Kaywa QR Code Maker.  For those who have to know the details, here???s a more in depth look at QR Codes. I???m not a tutorial blog, so I guess you???ll figure out the step by steps ??? if I at least give you some starter points. What I???m really interested in here is that Google can already make QR codes.

There are lots you can do with QR codes ??? and I recommend a look at iCandy, which will give you lots of ideas ??? and ways to share your little black and wahite boxes via social networks as well as print them out. For desktop and laptop users (Windows, Linux, Mac) and for  iPhone users: i-nigma or QuickMark for Android users.

Now, I imagine naysayers and skeptics will say ??? ???yeah but no one has a camera???, among the raft of other reasons in opposition to using them. I???m offering no response to solving that one ??? so I???d stick with using it yourself and just leaving the things around, see if they notice.

Think about how giving primary kids. Make some Kindy-rings. Make 10 QR codes, laminated as swing-tags. All they have to do is show them to the webcam and Ding! you???re little ones are visiting websites you want. No faffing about with them typing in a web address. Even better, they can then do a bunch of things without the teacher hovering.

This is a primitive view of what is possible ??? with a little creative design, you can do all sorts of games and activities with QR codes I imagine.

Did you know Google will make them for you? All you have to do is visit – their URL shortner.

Add a link to your own blog (or other website) ??? and Ding! you???ve made a short URL. Oh, you wanted a QR code. Well, simply press details and bingo, it creates a QR code that you can save ??? or if you???re so hopelessly smitten with Word, just drag and drop. Here???s a link for you to try out just to show you how easy it is. Now wait a second ??? this get???s better ??? because uses metrics ??? so you can see how many people are visiting (using your QR) code. So now you can see if they are going where you want ??? and more interestingly perhaps ??? when and where from.