What's New | Attendance Tracking and Reconciliation, June 2024
On-Demand Webinar with Kurt Meyer and Ronan Quirke

Discover Orah’s latest advancements in real-time, accurate attendance tracking and duty of care to improve student well-being and safety.
In this webinar, Kurt Meyer and Ronan Quirke from Orah discuss the latest improvements in attendance tracking and student care. They showcase new features that make it easier to track attendance accurately and in real-time, reducing the workload for teachers and attendance managers. Learn how Orah's solutions address common issues with traditional systems, improve data quality, and enhance student safety and well-being. The webinar includes a live demo of new tools, future updates, and a Q&A session with current users. See how Orah can help your school manage student attendance and care more effectively.


Topics Covered:

  • Introduction to Orah’s duty of care platform
  • Core pillars of duty of care: attendance, student well-being, behavior, and communications
  • Challenges with traditional attendance systems and Orah’s solutions
  • Live demonstration of the new attendance reconciliation feature
  • Streamlining parent excuse submissions through automated processes
  • Real-time data accuracy and automated alerts for better interventions
  • Reconciling attendance records and ensuring accurate data entry
  • Future developments: live student location tracking and NFC-based self check-ins
  • Integration with various School Information Systems (SIS) and real-time data syncing
  • Q&A session with insights from current Orah users and potential new features

Highlighted Schools:

For more information or to get started with Orah’s attendance module, get a demo here.



Kurt Meyer: Welcome, everybody. Thank you for joining in today. I'm here with Ronan who leads the product team with me here at Orah. And yeah, we're excited to take you all through some of the updates on What we've been working on in the attendance front.

Ronan Quirke: Yep. Hi, everybody. Looking forward to it.

I'll be keeping an eye on questions and things like that. So just feel free to ask a question as you see anything. And we may be, we'll probably answer them towards the end. So we don't break up the flow, but as you think of things, just throw in a question and we'll be happy to answer. I

Kurt Meyer: okay I think we can kick off. I'm just going to share my screen.

All right. So I'm going to go through a deck and then spin off to a live demonstration of some of the newer capabilities that we've been working on. . Yeah, so a little bit about us at Orah. We are a duty of care platform and we work with some of the top independent schools around the world. Currently working with over 300 schools across 20 different countries.

And yeah, some of the most influential and prestigious schools. And so the way that we define duty of care is being able to account for students physically and mentally and be able to provide a safe and supportive environment for students so that they can learn.

And when we think about duty of care, there's three core pillars. That we think that are essential and that's attendance. Student care being well being and behavior, as well as communications. So these three pillars answer some fundamental questions that every day a school needs to have a good answer for.

Things like, where are my students? How are they? And how are we communicating with them? And being able to answer those questions really well means that you're able to provide a great experience with students and meet your students. Obligations around your duty of care and today we're going to be focusing on the attendance side of things and specifically what we've been working on, which is a way to reconcile your attendance records.

And I'll get into how that all works in the demo. But I just wanted to cover off some of the existing pains that we see. But the current solutions out there. So generally they're a bit clunky and hard to use. Teachers aren't taking attendance as often as they should be because it's just a not a great experience for them.

And there's a lack of insights around student attendance. Because you don't have the accurate data that you need and there's also a lot of manual data entry, which also contributes to the inaccurate data or lagging data. Because you're just a little bit behind the ball when parents email or phone call in and it takes a bit of time before that's actually entered into the system.

And that also leads to ineffective interventions and follow ups around students absences or behavior because you're not operating with the most real time or accurate information.

So accounting for students requires accurate and real time attendance records. And those two things are what I want to focus on today. Real time and accuracy of records. In terms of real time, one of the most common situations is that the parent calls or emails the school to let them know that the student won't be in today.

And usually there's a, a pile of voice messages and emails that someone has to trawl through in the morning or keep on top of throughout the day, and then manually add that into the system to excuse students. But we've streamlined that so that parents can submit an excuse themselves.

They can do that through the app, or we have a public form that they could use, which means they don't need a username and password. And once they've entered in their excuse, then that's automatically going to update your attendance record. So when a teacher is taking attendance, they can see that student has been excused and they don't need to account for them.

So just a quick demo on how that looks. So this is the excuse form that the parents would see. So they would just select a type of excuse and these are all customizable. They fill in the information and submit that. And once that's submitted, from the teacher's perspective they can see here that student has been excused, so when they're, when they've started ROL they know that the student has been excused, so they don't need to account for them.

And this is happening in real time, so you don't need an admin person to manually enter that data. As soon as the parent Submits it, then that updates the role for teachers. And there are roles and parameters that you can put around these forms so that there are some controls so that parents aren't just putting in, time, timeframes, or a number of excuses that don't align with your policies.

So you can enforce rules around that as well to ensure that things don't go awry with that level of automation. So that's just a quick demo of that, how that excuse process can be streamlined. And again, this is leading to more accurate real time information. And what that means is that you can have better automated alerts and follow ups.

So as soon as a student is marked absent, You're more confident that they are actually absent because you know that they they're being excused in real time. So if they don't show up to class and they don't have an excuse and they're marked as absent, then that's something that you want to follow up on.

And you can set up automated alerts to notify the correct members of staff or even parents and then you can initiate those follow ups immediately.

Ronan Quirke: Yeah, so Kurt, speaking to a couple of schools, they have to, at the moment, they have to tabulate everything. They've got to get all the bits of paper, check all the messages and check all the emails, and only then can they say, okay, now we know who's at the school.

Whereas if everything is automated, then the school can have a policy and say, okay, after second period, that's the cut off time, then we know everything will have been, should have been returned because everything is real time anyway. And we can trigger those alerts at a consistent time and we have a consistent cut off time rather than scrambling through the morning to, to check all those messages and kind of type out everything and only then can they actually have an accurate count.


Kurt Meyer: Yeah. So it all starts from having that real time accurate understanding of who is and isn't supposed to be in class. And that, that leads into better follow ups and alerts. And once the right people are being alerted, then that leads into the next piece that I want to focus a bit more time on, which is reconciling those records.

In a, real life example, if a student was marked as absent, then that could trigger an alert to the attendance manager, and then the attendance manager would then go in and try to figure out where is that student actually, and update the record to reflect. the reason that they were absent for.

So I'm going to jump into the, our test account now. So I'm an attendance manager. I've been alerted that someone has been absent. And then I'm going to go over to the attendance records view. And here I can see a daily view of all the attendance statuses on a per student basis. I can filter by all students who have been marked as absent.

So we can see that Martin, he was absent at his soccer class athletic group, and if I open that up, we can see that it does not have a reason. So NAP, that's a short code for not approved absence. And I could follow up Martin and see, is he actually here or not, what did his parents say something?

And based on what I find out, I can update the reason to. what's most accurate. For example, he might have actually just been in the health center. So he was absent, but the reason was a health center. So it's actually an approved absence. Or if you can't find where he was, maybe it was a not approved absence.

Inputting the reason is what helps you reconcile and close the loop for any absences or lates that have occurred so that you know that they've all been accounted for. So you don't have any absences that were just not approved or you're not sure why that happened. So that gives you the ability to have that complete life cycle of managing your attendance records.

And, if the teacher put in the incorrect code, you can always update that as well from your end and leave a note. So let's say he was actually in the health center. I update that and we can see that his reason code has been updated to HC for health center. And all these reason codes are completely customizable.

So you can add in any number of reasons with the shortcode. And you can set defaults for the different status, attendance statuses, as well as excuses. For example, if someone is made absent from class. You can set the default reason to absent, not approved, requires a follow up. And so as an attendance manager, your job is to go through all the not approved absences and reconcile them, find out the actual reason why they weren't there and update it to the actual reason.

And that just gives you a good healthy practice of following up students and keeping your attendance records accurate and up to date. And you can also associate reasons with excuses as well, like I mentioned. So say if a student or if a parent submits an excuse, For a student, then that can have a default reason or parent approved, for example.

Yeah, so it's a bit like accounting. So for every absence or late, you need a reason. And that just gives you that good practice of keeping your data accurate.

Okay, so that's how the reconciling piece works. Is there anything you'd add to that, Ronan? Or yeah, anything you think I missed? Yeah,

Ronan Quirke: No, I think one thing to to bear in mind is that this is a little bit different maybe to how I'm looking at some of the people on the call. I'm using lots of different SISs for their attendance management at the moment.

And we appreciate this is a little bit different, but part of the reason for that is it is real time and our focus on. Capturing the data up front allows this reconciliation system to actually be quite automated. So you're not going through every individual record. You're just looking for the exceptions.

And so that's something to bear in mind. So it can seem a little bit overwhelming if you're coming from a place where you're doing most of the data entry and marking off. In the SIS yourself, whereas actually because we're capturing so much upfront in Orah, then you're actually just just looking for the exceptions and reconciling those.

So that's probably something to bear in mind if you're coming from a sort of an a system that isn't as, doesn't have that data capture upfront, I think.

Kurt Meyer: Yeah, that's right. So it's trying to focus your attention on, yeah, the anomalies or the the exceptions when a student is absent. And not approved.

And you've got all the alerts and mechanisms so that you can find out why and close the loop from a record keeping perspective so that you know that yes, they were absent, but we know the reason why they're absent. And you could leave a note for that. And getting into that practice just means that Which I'll go into next, which means that all of your reporting downstream is a lot more high quality and reliable and can make.

Better decisions on it.

Ronan Quirke: Yeah. And just to, to, one other thing just to bear in mind is that this, primarily thinking about that, the hard working, I don't know how they manage it. They have so much patience, the attendance managers in the schools, attendance administrators who, whatever you're called.

So you're not checking messages anymore. You're not checking The, the voicemail line for all those things, you're not doing those things. You're just focusing on just doing this reconciliation. You're perfecting your data rather than just getting the basic data in. So it's really, that's a big thing.

And so just bearing in mind that you're not doing those things anymore. You're just doing this really is your daily task up front.

Kurt Meyer: Yeah, exactly. So we're trying to automate as much as possible in terms of knowing who should and shouldn't be in class through the excuse process. And even things outside of parents, for students in the health center or in the, in a music lesson or some sort of extracurricular activity, then that could also automatically excuse students from class.

So you should already have a really good base understanding of who should and shouldn't be there. So when you get an actual absence where a student doesn't have an excuse. Then that should be a fairly uncommon occurrence that actually does require someone to follow up properly to make sure that they know what happened in that case.

Yeah. And so once you've got that quality of data practice happening, then that gives you a much better foundation for your reporting and analytics to make better data driven decisions. Thank you. So we have an analytics attendance dashboard within ORAH as well. And that gives you a view of your attendance rates over time.

And so now that all you, all of your information is accurate, you can have a better overview of how you're tracking from an attendance perspective. and be able to make more yeah, informed decisions on that front. We also send all the data back to the SIS as the main system of record, so all of your downstream transcripts and reporting will stay intact but you could probably be more confident that the data that they're using would be more accurate as well.

So I just wanted to give a little preview of what the next step would be in terms of being able to leverage this data. So something that we're currently working on is a live overview of where students currently are. So we can see which students are checked into different locations which students currently have active excuses, and any active events that are currently occurring.

And you can search on a per student basis through this table view here so that if you're looking for a particular student, you would be able to see which location that they were last checked into. And we're working on being able to update student location based on class attendance.

So if they're that is present, then they Then then their location can update to in class or in campus, on campus. And so that gives you that accurate view of where students currently are. And that's going back to, the duty of care component where having that really good idea of where are my students right now.

Is yeah, something that we want Orah to be the best at. And we think that a view like this is going to help you be able to answer those questions. We've got the first version of this and we should be releasing it shortly. But we plan to continue building off this, the foundation of real time and accurate data to help, better help answer that question about where students currently are.

And if you're interested in learning more or getting started with our attendance module, then you can email me at curt. orah. com. But we'd also, we'll also be sending out a follow up for anyone who's registered with the recording of this session and yeah, feel free to respond to that email and we can get in touch too.

Show you more, answer any questions you have. I just want to give a shout out to a couple of schools who I think have joined in today that we're currently working with. So we've got Churchy from Australia, Marey School, who I've been working with to help on board in the US. Ridley College, who we've been working with for a number of years on the boarding school side in Canada.

So we've been working with them, exploring how we could use ORAH on the attendance side as well. And I just noticed that they registered as well. So I just want to shout out and thank you. Thank you all for joining in today.

Ronan Quirke: Yeah, I was I was just going to say the great thing about being a kind of a S, like a global company, but a specialist in independent schools is we get to know you all really well. And part of that is actually there's a lot of the This, this that you showed today, Kurt, has been as a result of feedback is getting into how are you handling attendance at the moment?

How do you want to handle attendance working with individual schools and getting your feedback? And yeah, and it's fantastic looking at some of the people that I know on the call saying yes, we've got some synergetic schools, some Blackboard schools Faircross And KMAR even. So lots of different SISs and no doubt some questions about how does this work with with our underlying systems.

And of course, that's on a case by case basis, but we've got really good solutions for a few key schools that we've been working with in depth over the last few months and develop the integrations around those. But we have plans or ideas how this is going to work for pretty much everybody that does vary from SIS to SIS obviously but yeah, do please get in touch if this looks like of interest to you even if you don't think it's going to work, or we don't have the integration working at the moment, we'd love to hear.

What are you looking for? Because we have found some ways to tackle some of the issues, particularly around being able to send everything in real time. Some of the solutions are just doing a batch at the end of the day, but using ORAH as your kind of your live information source during the day to actually run those attendance tasks.

Yes, do please get in touch if you've got questions around that. If you're not sure it's going to work for your school, then. Let's have a chat because, we've been coming up with some good solutions for different situations.

Kurt Meyer: Yeah, exactly. We'd love to work with you all. And and yeah, it just makes our product better. And yeah, please get in touch if you're interested in what we've shown today. I'm just keeping an eye on the Q and A and it doesn't look like we've had any questions come through. We just got one. I noticed you integrate a lot with systems.

How do you integrate with ISAMS currently? Could you also talk us through the real time you mentioned? Yeah, great question. We we're working with ISAMS, so currently we only have a base level of integration where we can sync students and contacts. But we're working on syncing attendance information as well.

And generally anything that we pull from ISAMS or from the SIS happens at scheduled intervals. Maybe four, every four hours or sometimes every, just once a day, depending on the type of information. But whenever we're talking about information going from Orah back to the SIS, that's usually in real time.

So if there's an excuse or an absence created in Orah, then we'll send that in real time back to the SIS. And so that's generally Yeah, how the real time component works with the integration.

Ronan Quirke: Yeah, and just just to add to that, in terms of integrations and writing, writing attendance records back to your system of record, generally, takes place in two ways.

You've got your passes or excuses that you might have in Orah. Those can be multi day kind of things. So you're just blocking out the student for a whole period of time. Those are your passes or excuses in Orah. But also with the attendance taking capability within Orah, that's generally syncing up to Your school schedule and marking off individual classes and marking the attendance on the individual class as well.

So those are the two different ways that sort of that attendance is going back from Orah into your school system.

Kurt Meyer: Great. We just got another question. How far down the track are you with the development for a Tappan via student ID card into classes to eliminate roll call? Swipe cards are probably some time away. We don't plan on working on that this year because there's a, hardware component. We need to integrate with scanners and things like that.

So that's not on the short term roadmap. But we do have a, self checking system using NFC tiles. So it's these little chips that they're about 10 each, and you can put them on a classroom and associate the chip to a location. And that's something that we're exploring where a student would scan the chip with your phone, and then that can automatically mark them as present.

There's a little bit of integration work that we need to do to import all the locations from the SIS. So every class already has a room number assigned and things like that, so we would have to link up those rooms with the locations within Orah. And make that connection so that when a student is checked into that location we know that they should be present for that class.

And we've had a few schools express interest on that. And we're keen to continue developing it. But yeah, for us the first step is just getting that, the teacher side working rock solid. And once that's working really well, then adding on the the self check in methods would be easier.

Ronan Quirke: Yeah, just to to we're definitely on the same page though, Natalie, in terms of we, we want to have The teacher and the student spending as less, as little as time as possible, focused on recording attendance, but getting that system perfected and moving it from a, like a very clunky, fragmented way at the moment, moving it into ORAH and streamlining that, because the teacher's always going to need that view within the classroom.

That's the sort of the base that we're working on at the moment, and then absolutely automating that and building that on in future. But, yeah. Being very clear, we want to just perfect that with schools over the next academic year, first, before we do that. And it very much is dependent on your school systems, whether you're using swipe cards, barcodes, NFC chips, other types of chips, and that kind of stuff, as to what's exactly going to work with your school.

So that's going to require a little bit more work, but definitely up for the challenge.

Kurt Meyer: And if you're interested in working with us, Natalie, to develop that component, we'd love to connect with you to, yeah see how we could test it out and maybe pilot some of these capabilities before we release it to the rest of our schools.

And another question, just confirm, all this can be done from the mobile? Yes we can, you can also use the Orah mobile app to take attendance. If you're on a field trip, or, like in that example I gave, if they're at an athletic group. session, then you can use your phone to take attendance.

So it doesn't have to be on the desktop. And another question about alerts. Can you also alert teachers to take the role? A lot of schools have issues with teachers remembering to take attendance and it's mandatory exercise. Yep. Yep. Great question. So you can set up automated reminders for teachers who haven't taken attendance on time.

And you can also, as a Attendance manager send out a reminder just by selecting the class and sending a reminder if the role hasn't been completed yet. So that's definitely a big component about maintaining those accurate labels is making sure that they've been created on time and completed on time.

Ronan Quirke: Yeah. But also just to add to that, because this is a question that comes up quite a bit with schools. But the other thing that we want to focus on is just making it. Really easy and intuitive to take attendance. So that, because that is one of the barriers and yes, at the moment, a lot of schools are chasing staff who forget or don't want to, but a lot of that is down to just the system itself, not being terribly easy to use, but with the browser extension, making it really the UI.

Which we've really focused on making that as usable as possible and having it as pre filled as possible for teachers as well. So we hope that's less of a barrier and less of a, an issue going forward anyway. But yeah, we definitely will have that capability though, to make sure that data capture is happening.

Kurt Meyer: Yeah, and the browser extension has been a hit so far. So teachers can just have the extension open on the side panel while they're, they've got their LMS or SMS in the main view. So they're not switching between things to take attendance. And in reality that's what attendance is. It's a, it's a chore that needs to be done.

And you don't want it to take up your whole attention. It's just something on the side. You get it done, you move on, and then you continue with the lesson. And that's the sort of approach that we've tried to take, which, as Ronan said, should help improve the the habits of teachers taking attendance in the first place.

All right it doesn't look like we have any questions, and we're just coming up to time, so I think we can leave it there, but again, thank you all so much for joining in, and we look forward to hearing from you, and you should see a copy of the recording come through shortly.

Ronan Quirke: Thanks, everybody.

Kurt Meyer: Thanks, Ronan.

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