HOW TO RECORD ATTENDANCE USING BARCODE SCANNER OR NFC READER

by vesa@trackcc.orgWednesday, January 15, 2020 02:35 PM

Do your students have ID cards?
Do the ID cards have a barcode or QR code printed on them?
Or do the ID cards have an embedded NFC chip - where chip ID = student ID?

If so, you can use the TrackCC app for iOS or Android to automate attendance recording:


METHOD #1: 
Use iOS / Android camera to scan the student ID on the ID card
METHOD #2:  Use Bluetooth barcode scanner to scan the student ID on the ID card
METHOD #3:  Use iOS / Android phone to scan the student ID on the NFC chip
METHOD #4:  Use Bluetooth NFC reader to scan the student ID on the NFC chip


#1 How to use iOS / Android camera to scan the student ID on the ID card


Follow these steps:


1. Install the TrackCC app for iOS or Android v4.3 or later
2. Sign in as a Teacher
3. Turn on these options via “Settings"
    - Attendance = On
    - Use barcode scanner = On
    - Use device camera as scanner = On
    - Student ID = On
4. Add “Student ID” for each of your students
5. Tap Attendance
6. Switch to “Student view"
7. Tap the “Barcode scanner” toolbar icon
   - This will bring up the device camera in a small window
   - Point the camera window at the barcode / QR code on the student ID card
   - You can test by generating the barcodes on screen at http://www.barcode-generator.org/
8. Notes:
   - The camera is constantly scanning, so no need to push a button to detect the barcode
   - A popup will show a successful scan, and indicate whether there was a match with the student ID
   - You can scan the next barcode after 2 seconds
   - You can also use this feature for check-out by setting Attendance check-out = On in app Settings


#2 How to use Bluetooth barcode scanner to scan the student ID on the ID card


The TrackCC app is compatible with any Bluetooth scanner that can be paired with an iOS or Android device.


For our testing, we used this model: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07N8MG38F.  


First, you’ll need to pair the Bluetooth scanner with your iOS or Android device:


1. Tap the iOS / Android “Settings” app
2. Navigate to the Bluetooth settings
3. Set Bluetooth = On
4. To pair the device with the scanner:
    - In most scanners, hold the “Scan” button down for 10 seconds
    - The scanner will sound a beep when it’s entered into the pairing mode
    - The scanner should then appear on the iOS / Android list of Bluetooth devices
    - Tap the device name on screen to connect
    - Note that you’ll need to do the pairing only once
    - After pairing is done, the iOS / Android device will automatically connect the scanner when turned on 


Follow these steps with TrackCC:


1. Install the TrackCC app for iOS or Android v4.3 or later
2. Sign in as a Teacher
3. Turn on these options via “Settings"
    - Attendance = On
    - Use barcode scanner = On
    - Use Bluetooth scanner = On
    - Student ID = On
4. Add “Student ID” for each of your students
5. Tap Attendance
6. Switch to “Student view"
7. Tap the “Barcode scanner” toolbar icon
   - Point the scanner at the barcode / QR code on the student ID card
   - You can test by generating the barcodes on screen at http://www.barcode-generator.org/
   - A popup will show a successful scan, and indicate whether there was a match with the student ID
8. Notes:
   - Most scanners have a button to press to initiate a scan, so an attendance operator is required
   - However, there are some Bluetooth scanners which are continuously on, suitable for self-check-in stations
   - You can scan the next barcode after 2 seconds
   - You can also use this feature for check-out by setting Attendance check-out = On in app Settings 


#3 How to use iOS / Android phone to scan the student ID on the NFC chip


Most Android and iPhones support reading NFC chips with the phone as the reader
- The antenna to read the NFC chip is typically on the backside of the phone
- On iPhones, the antenna is typically around the camera lens 


Follow these steps:


1. Install the TrackCC app for iOS or Android v4.3 or later
2. Sign in as a Teacher
3. Turn on these options via “Settings"
    - Attendance = On
    - Use NFC reader = On
    - Use device as reader = On
    - Student ID = NFC serial number, or
      Student ID = Programmed value
    - Student ID = On
4. Add “Student ID” for each of your students
5. Tap Attendance
6. Switch to “Student view"
7. Tap the “NFC reader” toolbar icon
   - On an iPhone, this will bring up an iOS popup that the device is ready to read
   - On Android, the status line will indicate that the device is ready to read
   - Place the NFC chip on the back of the phone for a detection
   - A popup will show a successful detection, and indicate whether there was a match with the student ID
8. Notes:
   - Using the phone as the NFC reader is a simple way to read the student ID card
   - You can use up to 2 devices, both connected to the same TrackCC account to record attendance at the same time
   - You can also use this feature for check-out by setting Attendance check-out = On in app Settings 


#4 How to use Bluetooth NFC reader to scan the student ID on the NFC chip


The TrackCC app is compatible with this Bluetooth NFC reader:
https://www.acs.com.hk/en/products/403/acr1255u-j1-acs-secure-bluetooth-nfc-reader/
- This NFC reader is widely available and inexpensive - Amazon has it listed for USD $69
- There’s no need to pair this device with iOS / Android using device Settings
- Simply turn the NFC reader on to its Bluetooth setting, and connect to it from the app


Follow these steps with TrackCC:


1. Install the TrackCC app for iOS or Android v4.3 or later
2. Sign in as a Teacher
3. Turn on these options via “Settings"
    - Attendance = On
    - Use NFC reader = On
    - Use Bluetooth reader = On
    - Student ID = NFC serial number, or
      Student ID = Programmed value
    - Student ID = On
4. Add “Student ID” for each of your students
5. Tap Attendance
6. Switch to “Student view"
7. Tap the “Connect NFC reader” toolbar icon
   - Make sure the Bluetooth reader is turned on & in the Bluetooth setting
   - The app will sound a short BEEP when it connects with the NFC reader
   - Place the NFC chip on top of the Bluetooth NFC reader
   - A popup will show a successful detection, and indicate whether there was a match with the student ID
8. Notes:
   - The Bluetooth NFC reader is perfect for self-check-in stations
   - You can connect multiple Bluetooth NFC readers to the same app, simply turn them all on
   - This will help scale a busy attendance station, or allow using more than one entry point to the classroom
   - You can also use this feature for check-out by setting Attendance check-out = On in app Settings

 
Arguments for using “NFC serial number” instead of “Programmed value”


- All NFC chips have a unique serial number that can not be changed
- Hence using the serial number is more secure that programming each chip with the student ID
- The serial number is already on the chip, so no programming is required
- The downside: the serial number is 14 characters long and typically not written anywhere on the chip
- You’d need to use an NFC app (such as TagWriter) to read the serial number
- And then copy that 14-character serial number to the “Student ID” field of each student


Arguments for using “Programmed value” instead of “NFC serial number” 


- All NFC chips are programmable, so you can make the chip ID match the student ID, if already assigned
- The programming can be done using one of several free apps, we use the NFC TagWriter app on Android
- The student ID must be programmed into the “Plain text” field of the NFC chip
- The ID can be of any form, numbers, characters, or both
- The downside: there’s no guarantee that someone has not programmed another ID card with the same value