Taking Attendance ≈ Taking a Pulse

Students don’t have to “attend” class to be productive members of the learning community within your class, they just need a pulse. They are “attending”, even though they aren’t physically in class. Effective students/members of society prioritize their agenda, and students may feel that their limited time may be better allocated elsewhere rather than sitting in a seat at 2:00 pm listening to a lecture.

In Henry Doss’ call-to-action article Our Universities Are Not Teaching Innovation, he emphasizes the need for universities to reflect the real world and to prepare people for that world. Does my boss take attendance? No. My job requires that I am out as much as in the office. As long as I deliver top quality deliverables I will get an A grade (or, keep my job). Classrooms should reflect this. As long as students deliver top quality assignments it should’t matter if they attend class.

This week half of our team were at a conference, in meetings, or covering for vacations. Yes, we were down to a skeleton crew and one could say there was little attendance. It was still an exceptionally productive week. All members brought great information back to the table to share and those left to run the office took on added responsibilities and learned lots.

Did they not “attend” work? They checked and responded to emails, collaborated and contributed to projects while on the road. They could be given a C for attendance, but an A+ for the information they brought back.

How about drop the C knowing they are passionate about what they do; wherever they are I trust they are contributing to their own and the collective knowledge.

This is what today’s workplace looks like is. You don’t have to be sitting at a desk in an office to be productive. Actually, being out of the office can be more productive. Few opportunities drop on your desk, you have to go out and get them. If you don’t someone else will.

Back to the classroom. Students can periodically gather in the classroom and use the tech tools provided to share their findings. But, we have to make learning available to all students 24/7. We have to facilitate collaboration outside of the class. We have to understand that students have many competing commitments and they may feel more motivated doing your “classwork” at home or on their lunchbreak. They may feel less motivated, and perhaps resentful having to show up for class feeling they may otherwise get grades that reflect their “lack of commitment” by not showing up.

Ask yourself what today’s definition of “attendance” is. As long as my pulse didn’t drop to zero I was “attending” class.

What are your thoughts on the topic?

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