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 Macworld.com, 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.

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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.
    1-6-2011_11-53-26_am

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”.

Photo

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!

Creation

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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