Automated Attendance with Acadly

Simplifying Contact Tracing for in-person and hybrid classes

Acadly uses mesh network technology to capture attendance at the tap of a button for in-person and hybrid classes. Its proximity data provides timely and granular data for the contact tracing process. It also includes Zoom integration and can be used by instructors to deliver active learning in online and blended synchronous classes.

 

Frequently Asked Questions


Is Acadly free for UIC instructors and students?


Yes.


Does it work inside Blackboard or as an independent app?


Acadly has a Blackboard plugin for instructors, which can be used for (a) setting up a course, (b) viewing course statistics, and (c) exporting attendance data / participation points to the Blackboard gradebook.

However, the core functionality of the app such as (a) recording attendance, (b) sharing activities like polls and quizzes, and (c) viewing instant reports for attendance and activities, works only on the Acadly app or website (not inside Blackboard).


Who else has used Acadly?


Acadly is used at more than 400 US universities. At UIC alone, it has been used for attendance automation since Jan 2018 (close to four years). If you would like to connect with the Acadly team one-on-one for a demo, feel free to schedule a call using this link.


How does Acadly's attendance work?


Acadly discovers students in instructors' proximity using a mesh-network technology that uses Bluetooth and WiFi.


Is it compulsory for students to be connected to the WiFi?


No. Acadly works even if students are connected to the internet via mobile data / LTE.


What devices do my students and I need to use?

 

Both the instructor and the students need the Acadly app (available on Android and iOS) on their phones.

Acadly is available as a web application on a laptop or workstation, but the automatic attendance with student proximity feature is available only on the mobile apps. Other features like sharing activities or editing attendance manually work on the website too


Can students get marked as present if they aren't inside the classroom?


No. If a student is not inside the classroom, their device will not connect to the mesh network and they will not be marked present (in-person).
In blended synchronous classes, students can be marked present (online) when they are attending the class remotely, if Acadly's remote attendance feature is used. Students at home are marked as present (online) and would be excluded from contact tracing. To use Acadly in a blended synchronous class, please reach out to us for detailed guidance.


What if a student does not have a phone or if it's switched off?


They can let you / your "Class Assistant" (you would need to set one using Acadly) know and one of you can manually mark them "Present" as well.


Since when has UIC had an enterprise agreement with Acadly?


UIC entered into an enterprise agreement with Acadly in Fall 2021. However, the free version of Acadly has been in use at UIC since Spring 2018. It has been used by instructors for attendance automation in thousands of lectures at UIC.


Will this work in large classrooms?


Yes. There is practically no upper limit to the class size, thanks to how the mesh network technology works. Acadly has been used in courses with as many as 450 students too, and there's no reason why it can't work for even more!


Does this run continuously and drain my battery?
 

No. The attendance process, once started by the instructor, runs for about two minutes and then ends automatically.


Does this use GPS?
 

No. The Acadly app does not use GPS and does not track the physical location of anyone. On Android devices, the app does ask for permission to access GPS, but that's because of an Android quirk which combines Bluetooth / WiFi scanning permissions along with "location" permissions. However, while the app has to ask for this permission due to technical reasons, GPS data is neither collected nor stored by Acadly at any time.


Can Acadly replace clickers?
 

Yes. Acadly can be used for in-class polls, quizzes, discussions, Q&A, word clouds, and even to share files and videos with students. All this data can be exported to the Blackboard gradebook as well.


Has Acadly been reviewed for compliance with FERPA?
 

Yes, Acadly has been reviewed for compliance with FERPA by multiple universities, including UIC. For any specific questions regarding data privacy, please reach out to us at support+uic@acadly.com.


What is the purpose of Acadly's Zoom integration?
 

Acadly can also be used to teach online or blended synchronous (or HyFlex) classes, using the product's Zoom integration which works with UIC's existing Zoom licenses. The demo videos are linked below.


How do I sign up and set up an instructor account?
 

If your course is on Blackboard, you can access the Acadly LTI plugin listed under "Course Tools" in your course and follow the steps shown here. If your course is not on Blackboard, you can sign up on the Acadly website and we'll reach out to you with further instructions on email.


If UIC instructors start using the Acadly mobile app for in-person attendance, are they still required to maintain seating charts?
 

No, if Acadly mobile attendance is used, the proximity data will be collected by the mobile app and immediately available to contact tracers. There is no need to maintain a seating chart. However, it is recommended to encourage students to keep the same seat in the event of an infection that is asymptomatic, or reported late.


Does Acadly work in merged courses?
 

Blackboard merged courses are combined sections, usually of the same course, into one large class. Acadly works with merged courses. An instructor can use any of the following approaches:
  1. Setup Acadly class on the parent course (usually visible to the instructor and students by default) and include schedule for all meetings. Even if not all students are scheduled for each meeting, the contact tracing of in-class attendance will be recorded.
  2. Request that child courses are visible to the instructor and setup Acadly on each individual child course. This will allow taking attendance on a unique schedule for each group of students. The in-person attendance will be recorded. If grades are earned they will be sent to the child course Blackboard gradebook and they will need to be copied to the parent course by gradebook spreadsheet (download gradebook for offline work).


Is it necessary to export Acadly's attendance data to the gradebook for contact tracing purposes? If a course is set up without Blackboard integration, would contact tracing work?
 

Acadly's contact tracing irrespective of how an Acadly course is set up - with or without Blackboard integration. Instructors do not need to export the data to Blackboard as long as they are recording attendance through Acadly. While the contact tracing data is not available to instructors, they need not worry; all relevant information is shared with the contact tracing team via an independent system.


Can Acadly be used for attendance in online / hybrid classes as well?
 

Yes. Acadly's Zoom integration allows instructors to record attendance for both in-person as well as online attendees in the same class. Online attendance is “prompt-based”, i.e., instructors can launch an attendance prompt that appears on their students' screens during an online class and they can click a button to confirm that they're present. These prompts can be launched multiple times during a lecture. You can watch a demo of Acadly's online attendance here, and hybrid attendance is demonstrated in the first five minutes of this video.


Can an instructor / student use the Acadly website for attendance?
 

Acadly's automatic attendance does not work on the website. However, if a student is unable to use the Acadly app for attendance, they can let the instructor know and they can mark them as “present” manually on the Acadly app / website. For instructors, only manual attendance editing works on the Acadly website and the automatic attendance feature works only on the Android / iOS apps.


How can students check their attendance status?
 

All attendance records are stored in the students' Acadly accounts, which they can access on the app / website to check their status - for each individual lecture, and also overall.


Where can I see full demos of everything Acadly does?
 

Here you go! Click the thumbnails below to play the demo videos.

 
Is your course not set up on Blackboard? No worries! Sign up on the Acadly website.

 

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