If you haven’t taken the time to consider the type of technology your institution uses to track attendance at events across campus, it’s time you do. Attendance tracking has come a long way from the days of simply swiping or scanning an ID, which is now considered outdated technology. If your school doesn't offer a modern attendance tracking system at all, pay attention.
Get to Know Generation Z
With Generation Z transitioning into college and university, institutions must adapt. According to Amy Lynch, founder of a Nashville-based consulting firm, members of Gen Z "reach for a smart device every seven minutes”. They multitask across four or five screens instead of two or three,” she told the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). “One outcome of that for the teacher is Gen Z is even more distracted than the Millennials. Their brains have simply been wired for the give-and-take of bits and bytes.” To succeed with Gen Z, defined by the Pew Research Center as those born between 1997 and 2012, you must speak their language. This means using mobile-first technology, quality images, and instant feedback.
Data.ai’s State of Mobile report for 2020 found that Gen Z had a 60% higher rate of engagement with mobile apps than the year before. This generation also tends to spend more time engaging with non-gaming apps, with an average of 3.8 hours a month.
Because Generation Z expects immediate feedback, both higher education institutions and employers should be mindful of this preference to better appeal to this powerful demographic. At work, Gen Z employees prefer more frequent, informal feedback from their manager. This helps avoid the dreaded annual performance review, where employees have to gather information regarding what they did over the past year and reflect on this in a 30-60 minute-long meeting with their manager. To members of Gen Z, what happened months ago is no longer relevant and is often long forgotten. And, if this information is not readily tracked and available, it’s time consuming to go back through your records and gather this data.
David Hassel, CEO of software firm 15Five, uses this analogy to explain the immediate feedback that Gen Z expects: “Think about the amount of sensory feedback we receive when we drive three blocks behind the wheel of a car. The weather, stop lights, traffic, pedestrians, speedometer, feel of the steering wheel, passenger's talking, radio sounds, GPS notifications, etc. are all being processed as sensory feedback by the driver. Not getting feedback in today's [fast-paced, high-flux, and] notification-filled world, is like driving those three blocks blindfolded.”
Implementing modern attendance tracking systems offers many benefits, such as tracking attendance in real time and saving staff time. If any of the following three features describe your school’s attendance tracking systems, it’s time to consider the major benefits that come from updating to systems with more modern capabilities.
1. Your attendance tracking software consists of scanners
Legacy attendance trackers consist of scanners or swipers, which require your school to staff each event with one or more people who then operate the scanners and swipe or scan each student upon entering. This is an inefficient method. First, it’s time-consuming. Staff must first locate and obtain the scanners before the event and then staff the event with people who know how to operate the scanners (and train additional school or student staff to do this if no one who’s trained is available), and return the scanners after the event. This wastes a lot of time.
Considering these systems are prone to glitches and can easily break, this also presents a greater risk for errors during the check-in process since students must be scanned one by one. It’s common for event attendance tracking scanners to fail entirely at an event (forcing you to bring back manual sign-in sheets) or encounter a glitch which affects the accurate recording and storing of the attendance data. Losing this data makes all the effort put forth in the process go to waste. Lastly, with these types of systems, it’s likely you’ll miss some students, who may even bypass the system entirely. Why should they bother swiping their card when they have no idea why the data is tracked and where it goes?
2. Your event attendance trackers are solely web-based
By the turn of the 21st century, everything was going digital. But today, it’s not enough to just “have a mobile app”. Many companies focus on their web portal and confine the mobile app to just scanning students in at events, leaving the app’s functionality woefully limited. With the majority of college students constantly on their smartphones, it’s crucial that your student’s have equal, if not greater, mobile capabilities compared to the web.
Generation Z, often labeled as the “mobile-first generation,” overwhelmingly prefers mobile apps over logging onto a website since they can do it from anywhere. To support today’s undergraduates, your school’s mobile app should offer even more functionality than the web version. Ideally, it would even enable students to search for upcoming events, find badges, track progress, connect with friends and mentors, and even upload reflections and ePortfolio items.
With Suitable, students check in themselves, no staff or scanning hardware needed! Through the mobile app, they can simply and conveniently check in. As soon as they check-in, Suitable immediately informs the student of how many points they received, what skills and competencies that event went towards, updates to badge progress and more. Students can even view their Co-Curricular Transcript on Suitable’s mobile app, which provides a real-time record of each student’s co-curricular engagement, experiential learning and ePortfolio – it’s like having your four years of college right there at your fingertips (except for whatever they may not want their parents to see).
3. Your attendance software provides no real-time progress tracking
Today, attending events on campus can be a key contributor to students’ co-curricular experience, especially when attendance is tracked through an event app, with their participation helping them progress toward meeting specific digital badges and credentials. Outdated attendance tracking systems do not update students’ progress in real time.
Many systems on the market don’t even have a badge tracking capability; they only offer “mass apply” feature. With this feature, no interface is presented for students to visualize their progress. Instead, a list of students who already completed a certain course is uploaded to a badge by an administrator, and then an email is generated to those students to alert them of their achievement. This is entirely passive for the student and greatly devalues the badge and the overall experience for students. In fact, many times, students who receive these digital badges are completely unaware that they earned it since students don’t check their email all too often. Suitable is the only platform on the market that updates students instantaneously, on the mobile app, whenever they earn progress towards one of their badges.
Suitable is the only provider of mobile-first attendance tracking software for colleges and universities. Through Suitable’s Student Org Management digital product, on-campus student organizations can not only track attendance and engagement more efficiently, but campuses will also see increased student engagement through the use of mobile-first approaches that provide instant feedback and incorporate gamification techniques. When more students are engaged on campus, this benefits everyone, specifically campus admissions offices concerned with enrollment and retention.