Course Attendance Registration: Digitalized (CARD)

In this blog describes Timo Halbesma (Physics student) how his idea for the application CARD was born and how he brought it to reality by his student UvA Grassroots project. CARD is a proof of concept but is now already successfully used in teaching practice by several teachers saving them their precious time. A success which will be scaled in near future.   

Timo Halbesma showing the RFID cardreader for StudentID cards attached to a laptop running the CARD website.

Timo Halbesma showing the RFID cardreader for StudentID cards attached to a laptop running the CARD website.

During the first semester of the 2011/2012 academic year I was enrolled for Java Programming. The following semester I enrolled for Big History and the Future of Humanities, an open UvA course with compulsory attendance. One of my observations was that the attendance list for roughly 500 students was a sheet of paper that was passed trough the lecture room which students had to sign with their name and student ID number. I was puzzled why this was happening because such a list would for sure be digitalized later on, a task that is so boring that my brain would implode. At that point in time I made up my mind to write a programme in Java that would automate this task to absolve the course coordinator from this drudgery.

My endeavors were fruitless as my programming skills were far from adequate to successfully complete this challenge. The lecturer would require a GUI (not straightforward in Java and not a part of the course I took) instead of a CLI application, there had to be an easy way to inform students of their attendance progress (how would I achieve this?) and the application would have to be installed on different machines with different operating systems and different versions (probably a complete disaster). The easiest solution was to develop a website because it has a user-friendly interface that everybody is familiar with. Moreover, both students and teachers can access the website from all over the world, from any machine or browser combination imaginable.

A couple of years later I had develloped usefull skills in GNU/Linux, Pyton, a little bit of HTML/php/mysql and I was pointed at the Django framework for the very straight-forward programming language Python. Now, the first thing I read about Django was ‘The Web framework for perfectionists with deadlines’ so I was instantly hooked and determined to study the framework in great depth to achieve my goals. During my Bachelor in Astronomy and Physics I have worked for Joëlle Kessels as a tutor in the Astronomy and Physics bachelor. In addition to coordinating both academic skills and the tutors, Joëlle recently started to coordinate Oriëntatie Natuur- en Sterrenkunde, a course that is passed after a student has attendend at least 25 lectures. This course is the perfect playing ground for my attendance project and my intentions to develop a website for fast and user-friendly attendance registration. Joëlle brought the ICTO grassroots subsidy to my attention and I contacted Natasa Brouwer (ICTO-FNWI coordinatior) for the necessary support and cooperation with my grassroots project and a contact with the Datanose (Gerrit Oomens) was made.

CARD-HomeNext, development commenced. At my home server I configured apache2/mod_wsgi/mysql to accept http requests handled by python/django. My first challenge was to lock down the site using a login system. Django-registration was almost perfect, but after some slight modifications I managed to combine (i.e. copying code from the Open Source project Starfish by ICTO-FNWI) it with IvOAuth, a wrapper around Surfconnext/CAS to enable student/staff login via the UvAnetIDs. The following step was to implement an accessable, friendly user interface. Bootstrap, in my opinion, is like a lego kit that may be used to suit the needs of the programmer on the front end of websites (javascript, css, ajax). After the implementation of my user interface I had to crack some difficult puzzles on the backend concerning the complicated OneToMany and/or ManyToMany relationship between courses, lectures, students, users, teachers and datetimes. After finializing the first version of the website I could foccus on registering/notifying users that are attending courses, checking DataNose if a student is actually enrolled for the course, importing from – and exporting to Excel databases and serverside logging for debug/info purposes.

CARD_TeacherCourseView_annoniemCurrently, CARD is used by Oriëntatie Natuur- en Sterrenkunde. The paper attendance registration has been replaced with CARD alltogether after two trial runs. Starting September 2014 CARD wil be used again for Oriëntatie and is looking for the possibilities for expanding the usage of CARD at the whole University of Amsterdam.

Contribution: Timo Halbesma

Links Starfish
Project description:
Good practice CARD:



Visuele Quantumfysica

In deze blog vertelt Huub Rutjes (Natuurkunde) over zijn Grassrootsproject Visuele Quantumfysica. In dit student Grassroots project uitgevoerd in de Grassroots ronde 2013-2014 heeft hij audiovisueel materiaal verzameld en gemaakt voor het vak Quantumfysica 1 om studenten te helpen om de stof beter te begrijpen en om een gevoel te ontwikkelen voor de abstracte en tegen-intuïtieve wereld van de quantummechanica. Het materiaal is beschikbaar gemaakt op een website.

Mijn project had als doel om het eerstejaars vak Quantumfysica 1 (natuur- & sterrenkunde, ik was werkcollegedocent) te voorzien van (audio)visueel materiaal dat de studenten hielp om de stof beter te begrijpen en om een gevoel te ontwikkelen voor de abstracte en tegen-intuïtieve wereld van de quantummechanica. Ik geloof dat het noodzakelijk is om – naast alle afleidingen, formules en sommen – ook op andere manieren oog in oog komen te staan met de wetten van het kleine zodat er een nieuwe intuïtie kan ontstaan, een quantumintuïtie.

QFhoofdstuk1Het internet staat bol van goede voorbeelden in de vorm van docu’s, applets, instructievideo’s etc., en alles wat nog mist is de tijd en toewijding om het te filteren en te structureren. Speciaal voor dit project heb ik een website gemaakt, het resultaat van dit project is daar te vinden: De website volgt de structuur van de syllabus en werd gedurende acht weken gevuld met materiaal dat ik en anderen kon(den) vinden op het internet.

Er zijn ook, door mijzelf, video-uitwerkingen van de moeilijkste opgaven gemaakt. Studenten mochten stemmen welke opgave ik zou gaan behandelen, zo kreeg ik ook een goed beeld van wat studenten als lastig ervoeren.

QFopgavenDe video’s (in principe niet meer dan een schermopname met voice-over) waren verrassend leuk en interessant om te maken omdat ik hier méér in kwijt kon dan alleen een droge uitwerking: ik kon ook animaties, dynamische grafieken en andere video’s laten zien door ze simpelweg op mijn beeldscherm te tonen. Deze vorm leent zich heel goed voor het combineren van verschillende bronnen tot één product.

Deze video’s bieden de mogelijkheid om een grote groep studenten aan te spreken, die vervolgens op hun eigen gemak de video kunnen kijken wanneer het hun schikt. Ook biedt video interessante mogelijkheden ten opzichte van tekst. Je kan makkelijker en met meer woorden dingen uitleggen, en je kan bovendien bewegende objecten incorporeren, zoals animaties, andere video’s (van bv. Youtube) en interactieve plots. Dit vraagt overigens wel wat creativiteit van de maker, en voornamelijk technische vaardigheden zoals monteren. Desalnietemin geloof ik dat de drempel laag genoeg is voor iedereen om iets te maken van meer dan voldoende kwaliteit.

De studenten QFuitleghebben deze toevoeging aan het vak gewaardeerd, getuige hun reacties.

Een greep: “[Wat ik heb gewaardeerd aan dit vak is] de externe website met filmpjes over QF en de uitwerkingen van de moeilijkste opgaven” en  “Doorgaan met interactieve additionele onderwijsmethoden!”


Bijdrage: Huub Rutjes

Grassroots: improve and innovate teaching at the Faculty of Science

During the academic year 2014/15 the UvA Education Expertise Group offers students and teachers the possibility to execute Grassroots projects. Deadline for application is on September 2. Join the group of lecturers and students who have this way enriched many courses using ICT and contributed to the improvement of education at the UvA in general.


Grassroots are small-scale, accessible ICT projects, from which the results immediately can be implemented in education. Grassroots are a great example of introducing and testing new techniques in education.

Grassroots projects 2014-2015

During the academic year 2014/15 the UvA Education Expertise Group offers students and teachers the possibility to execute Grassroots projects. Enrollment is already started.

Individual teachers and students can submit a proposal for Grassroots projects. For each Grassroot the budget is no more than €1000,- Besides individual Grassroots projects, departments can request financial aid for a program of 5-10 combined Grassroots.
The ICTO-FNWI will prepare a proposal for (at least) one Grassroots program. In August ICTO-FNWI will present an idea about it and invite the Faculty of science lecturers to join it.

How to apply for Grassroots projects?

To apply for the Grassroots project you need to fill in the application form and submit your application before September 2nd 2014.

You are most welcome to contact ICTO-FNWI for any questions and for feedback on your Grassroots project proposal and later on when your proposal is granted. In the case of more lecturers with a similar idea’s ICTO-FNWI will organize collaboration between the projects or a joint grassroots program and give additional support.
Contact: Natasa Brouwer, coordinator ICTO-FNWI (


  • 02-9-2014    Deadline for submitting application formats (at 12.00 o’clock) at
  • 17-9-2014    Assessment of applications by a selection committee
  • 18-9-2014    Participants will be notified, formal start date of the Grassroots
  • 25-9-2014    Start meeting of the Grassroots (15.00)

Download Grassroots flyer in English or in Dutch.

More information can be found on the Grassroots website:

See UvA Grassroots blog