By Ena Hull, Sr. Vice President of Student Financial Services and Title IV Compliance, Unitek College
For all of their strengths, Unitek College has struggled with pen-and-paper-based time and attendance processes. Nowhere was this more evident than in externship and clinical site environments. Inaccurate data, poor and illegible documentation, inadequate process controls, and delays when both collecting and entering data negatively impacted the institution. The lack of timely, accurate data increasingly frustrated students, instructors, registrars, and compliance officers. Worst of all, the school’s reporting processes and monthly cash flow were negatively impacted. Unitek needed a better, more reliable way to capture and record accurate, legible, and timely attendance data.
After having multiple findings in its annual compliance audit, Unitek decided to solve its compliance findings with late refunds and inaccurate student statuses by thinking outside of the box. Several solutions were considered including biometrics, scan cards and computer log-in systems but each one had their short-comings. Additionally, they failed to ensure full compliance with collecting attendance in a timely manor, preventing attendance cheating or could not be used as an option in a hospital clinical site or off-site locations for externships. In the summer of 2016, Unitek made the decision to find a solution for taking attendance through an electronic means and identified CourseKey’s classroom automation and engagement platform as the solution.
Since students love utilizing their mobile phone devices for all other types of activities, allowing students to use mobile phones to check into class seem to be a natural fit. Not only did this make sense but the secure digital footprint left behind by using a mobile device with its own unique and registered identification allowed Unitek to record and identify a student quickly, accurately and securely. In addition, the solution did not require Unitek to purchase expensive hardware or equipment to support the solution in the classroom or off-site.
Students could use their existing mobile devices to check in and instructors were given a tablet with a data plan to support the collection of attendance in the classroom or a remote location.
In this new business model, instructors are issued a tablet with the CourseKey application pre-installed for attendance management and students are advised during the admissions process of their requirement to maintain a mobile device for classroom attendance. Any student who is unable to comply with the mobile device requirement must be checked in daily by the instructor through his/her device. However, to date, 99 percent of all students at Unitek participate in CourseKey by using their own device and enjoy the ability to use their device in the classroom. Unitek’s instructional staff also embraced the solution especially when a new tablet was issued to each instructor during the launching of the solution.
Meet Unitek College
Unitek College is a private, ACCSC accredited institution operating in Northern California since 2002. With multiple campuses having received the ACCSC “School of Excellence” distinction, they are one of the leading providers of healthcare and nursing education on the West Coast. Unitek’s goal is to help graduates take control of their professional futures through career training, professional development, clinical placement, and employment assistance. They believe students are best prepared for long-term career success when the learning environment combines innovative technologies with engagement, empowerment, and personal responsibility.
What Unitek found is that by leveraging CourseKey in the classroom this allowed Unitek College to automate time-based attendance for improved accuracy in real-time. Instead of fighting with students about using their mobile phones in the classroom, students were encouraged to use their device in the classroom for attendance and classroom engagement. Today at Unitek students go to class, they use their mobile device to scan a QR code displayed in the classroom and their check-in is recorded. This quick click and scan concept, allows students to follow the same process to check-out at the end of class. Classroom attendance is monitored centrally and in real time while data is regularly transferred electronically to Unitek College’s campus SIS.
The concept of mobile applications for attendance tracking has been extremely well received by both students and instructors. Students enjoy utilizing a mobile application for attendance because they are able to quickly authenticate their presence in the classroom and engage their classmates by using the chat feature within CourseKey. Instructors also love the solution since the administrative burden of collecting attendance is nearly removed and their engagement with students has increased.
Since implementing CourseKey, Unitek College’s control over timely, accurate attendance data has improved markedly.
With improved visibility into each and every student’s attendance records in real-time, school leadership, administrators, and instructors can now take a more proactive approach to managing a student’s academic progress.
Additionally, free of inefficient attendance-taking tasks, instructors are now able to spend more time engaging students, leading to less attrition and improved student retention. Registrars are saving hours daily because they no longer have to collect, validate, and capture attendance details class-by-class. And, finally, students know exactly where they stand in regards to attendance requirements and their overall academic journey.
The implementation of CourseKey in the classroom was so well received by students and instructors; there are plans to expand its usage for not only attendance but testing, grades and account balance information. Simply put, students love the application and want to see more information distributed through the application. With mobile applications becoming more popular than ever before, students and staff want the convenience of retrieving information via mobile devices. As a result, Unitek has committed to partner with CourseKey through 2018 to continue to develop and expand use of CourseKey in the classroom.
About CourseKey: Founded in 2014, CourseKey is a location-based classroom operating system that enables institutions to automatically capture and collect attendance data, push interactive content through in-class engagement tools and provide analytics on student and class performance. Through a suite of cloud-based solutions, CourseKey enables instructors and administrators to leverage the devices students already bring to class – laptops, tablets and smartphones – to both automate timekeeping for compliance and create interactive, paperless learning environments.
ENA HULL PH.D. is currently the Senior Vice President of Student Financial Services and Title IV Compliance for Unitek Learning and has over 25 years of higher education experience in student finance, compliance and Title IV administration. Her prior roles include Regional Vice President, Executive Director and Director of Financial Aid both in the private and non-profit segment. She understands the various segments of higher education and the student financing market where she served as a Regional Vice President for the mid-Atlantic region from 2005 to 2009 for Citibank Student Loans where she gained valuable insights on both federal and private loan financing for higher education institutions throughout the region.
Contact Information: Ena Hull // Sr. Vice President of Student Financial Services and Title IV Compliance // Unitek College // 949-590-4883 // firstname.lastname@example.org // www.unitekcollege.edu // Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/unitekcollegefremont/; https://twitter.com/UnitekCollege