UPES started in year 2003, and today has more than 9000 active students and around 800 staff at its campuses in Dehradun. It comprises of 7 colleges, offering 87 programs at undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels across 14 core industry sectors.
This rapid growth was possible and supported by the robust systems and processes implemented to support the operations.
Attendance records management is one of the most laborious and cumbersome process for any educational institution. The University decided early that relying on old methods of physical attendance registers would become a challenge not just from an operational standpoint, but also in terms of managing accurate records and providing information on demand. The University wanted to work with real time data and send proactive alerts to students and their parents about shortage of attendance. The University needed class completion dashboards, class room utilisation reports, exceptions and their analysis for better decision making.
In the year 2010, UPES took up the initiative to automate the data collection, analysis and reporting of student and staff attendance records.
The solution implemented includes FET, an open source automatic time table generator software integrated with onEdu which is a AWS cloud based campus management tool with a host of features in attendance management. This system was later integrated with SAP campus management software and Blackboard LMS.
As part of the setup, at the beginning of the term, FET generates the timetable for around 200 batches of students including the constraints of subjects, faculty, available rooms and time slots for classes. This timetable is then imported into onEdu.
Student attendance is captured in the classrooms using RFID cards and readers. A simple rule to consider student card scans only after the faculty scan eliminated the threat of proxy attendance inherent in RFID systems. Data from RFID readers is pushed into onEdu on the cloud server in real-time and processed by algorithms that either post the attendance records or raise one or more of the 8 possible exceptions. Students and Faculty have logins to onEdu to check their attendance records.
Any changes to the timetable are alerted by onEdu in real-time to the students and faculty. Graphical dashboards offer a wealth of information to the administrative and management team for decision making – including an industry first real-time class room status report. Some of the other reports include Class Completion Dashboard, Faculty Load Report, Exception status reports, Mass Bunk reports and other regular reports such as attendance registers with weekly and monthly trend analysis.
The system has been functional for the last five years now. It has helped the University in many aspects. Some of the more important ones are listed below:
- Over 30,000 student and faculty attendance records are collected and analysed automatically everyday
- It has decreased the average time taken for attendance by about 2 minutes per class, resulting in over 60 additional minutes of classroom time over the course of a semester
- Debar lists for each subject/section at the end of the semester are generated in no time.
- Faculty and Students depend on onEdu to review their daily schedule in the morning as well as attendance status for the semester.
- Attendance information is pushed to students and parents using either SMS or Parent Letters generated by onEdu.
- Less man power to manage such large student, faculty, class and timetable records, consequently decreased costs
Future Improvement Ideas
Some of the ideas that we are now working for the next academic year (2016-2017) are:
- Mobile app to students, faculty and parents
- Workflow for closing exceptions with escalation
- Further data analysis to check on compulsive late to class students and faculty