This semester, Western Illinois University implemented a new electronic system called the online absences reporting system, or more easily referred to as “OARS,” to make reporting absences easier. Jessica Harriger, Assistant Professor of Economics, was involved in the effort to implement this system for the WIU community.
Students are required to use this system if they miss class. Unfortunately, I missed a class due to illness, but the OARS system proved to be simple to operate. The site brings the student to a screen which shows the students name and class schedule. After marking which class will be missed and submitting the form, the system generates an email documenting the absence.
“This is not to be used as a get-out-of-class free card, but a way to treat students like adults and help them prepare for the real world,” said Harriger. The system is a way to keep students from going to the Beu Health Center to get sick notes, which will excuse them from a missed class. The H1N1 Virus about 2 or 3 years ago caused a backup and left the Beu Health Center overflowing with students. This system is thought to be a way to cut down on the number of students who need doctor’s notes and keep the focus on students who need treatment.
So far students have been able to successfully operate the system and positive feedback is flowing in. OARS has eliminated the hassle of having to email each teacher individually when missing class. “Our hope is that it will help students realize that attendance is important,” stated Harriger.
With this system in place, it gives students more motivation to want to go to class. Before OARS, if you missed a class, you did not have to explain yourself. Personally I would not want to consistently miss class knowing that each time it is being recorded! Going to class should be the primary purpose of college. If you’re not going to class, what is really being accomplished? OARS is a great way for students, professors, and advisors to keep tabs on student attendance and ensure they aren’t missing out on valuable knowledge taught in class.