Keeping records of student attendance in class, or for synchronous sessions in an online course, is an important way to help you find and address problems that students may be having. If you can see a pattern of missed classes, or late attendance, that can be a part of an intervention strategy early enough to help that student turn their performance around. Besides the diagnostic benefit, financial aid requirements for many students hinge upon attendance, and so you may be asked by the registrar to provide this information for reporting purposes.
While there are several different takes on how attendance should be counted (or not) towards a student grade, taking a few moments each class session to collect it can only help you make classroom decisions. [For an excellent summary of recent research in this area, see Macie Hall's blog post from Johns Hopkins University: Should You Require Classroom Attendance?]
To make keeping and collecting attendance information easier, LearnAU has just rolled out an Online Attendance tool in Blackboard that provides an online interface for you. An added benefit of using this tool online in Blackboard is that is gives students the ability to see their own attendance records, so that they can be made aware of their own patterns of class attendance.
It's easy to get started-- with a few simple clicks you can enable the tool in your Blackboard course and give it a try. Grab a copy of the documentation and setup guide here!
As always, if you have any questions, please contact the LearnAU team at firstname.lastname@example.org.