This fall, Concord Academy implemented Boardingware, a new electronic attendance system to help the school keep track of students. The new software, however, was met with mainly negative reactions from the student body.
The primary purpose of the app is for students to mark their location so faculty can account for them. Students download the Boardingware app and can sign, or “chip,” into one of many locations on campus. Day students are supposed to chip in when they arrive on campus and chip out when they leave. In addition, regardless of whether a student is a day student or a boarder, each must chip in at Study Hall each night.
When a student is going to miss a commitment, such as a class, they fill out a “Special Pass” on Boardingware to notify their teachers as a replacement of the previous pen-and-paper pink slip system. The Special Pass has changed several aspects of the pink slip: students must receive parental approval for each pass, students can create a Standing Day Pass for recurring commitments, and teachers can approve each pass more quickly because approval is electronic. Once all of the necessary parties approve the pass, the student must activate it before they leave.
In a Google Form survey of eighty-seven students, sixty-nine percent said that they often forget to chip into campus, regardless of the fact that they are supposed to. However, some students have different reasons for not chipping in. In the anonymous survey, one student said that they forget because “my phone doesn’t have the chip in feature so I have to open the app and its often too much of a hassle.” The student is pointing out that the chip in feature does not work with all phones, which makes it harder for everyone to do what they are supposed to with the app.
Another student said they forget because they “don’t go out much to extended campus, and don’t stay on campus for study hall so [they] usually just don’t need to use it. I do think it keeps us safe, though, and it’s a good tool to keep track of students. I like the idea of being able to check in on Boardingware for people on a chapel friend bench especially.”
One of the purposes for chipping in and out is for going onto extended campus, as well as for Study Hall. As stated by the faculty when they introduced the app, Boardingware’s purpose is to keep students safe by tracking their attendance, and it is important that students recognize that. Some students seem to understand this, but for students who have been at CA longer, it’s harder to adjust.
One senior said that they often forget to chip in because “It’s not part of [their] routine getting to school that [they] have come accustomed to over the past 3 years.” This perspective points out how new and different Boardingware is for CA.
It also seems that there is not much that the app is attempting to do in order to make students chip in, as one student says that they forget to chip in because “There’s nothing in place to remind me (like a notification), so I never remember to do it.”
It seems that, for the most part, students appreciate the broader goals of the software but do not like how it has been implemented. For future classes, it is likely well on its way to becoming an efficient method for keeping attendance.