Tracking High School Independent Study Hours for Elective Credit

Does your high school student spend hours drawing, taking pictures, caring for young children, or writing computer programs? Does she enjoy reading about a particular topic or participating in an interesting activity? Does he need to log hours of exercise to satisfy a P.E. credit or certain number of driving hours before he gets his license?

Using Airtable, I created a chart that can help you stay organized.

Why we needed a chart

Last weekend my daughter and I were brainstorming subject areas for her to earn elective credits. She has taken on a year’s worth of core classes this semester, so I did not want to saddle her with another formal course. Instead, I am encouraging her to pursue her own passions for credit.

Since she enjoys photography and has spent countless hours playing the ukulele in the last few weeks, I explained that she could record the hours she spends doing those activities to earn high school credit for them. To earn one Carnegie unit (a high school credit), she just needs to document 120 hours of study in a single subject.

For a couple days, she kept track of the hours using her phone’s notes app.

It was a great start, but I quickly realized how much we would both benefit from using a more powerful app to log her hours. I wanted to encourage her to include more details about how she used her time; this new chart should do the math to show us how much time she had accumulated toward her credit. Most importantly, it had to be easy for both of us to access on separate devices since she would be entering most of the data, but I would need to keep tabs on her progress to assign credit.

Using Airtable, I set up a database where she can enter in each activity she does, the date and time, the subject it should count towards, and the minutes she spent. Using formulas I defined, Airtable automatically calculates the total hours spent and her progress toward each credit.

I know this sounds really complicated, but it is actually very simple to use now that it is set up. If you can enter information into a spreadsheet program like Excel, using Airtable should be a cinch! Let me walk you through setting up this Airtable chart for you and your student.

Hold on! How much does it cost?

All you need to get started is an Airtable account and a computer with a web browser. Basic accounts are free. A premium account is only required if any single base (database file) contains more than 1200 records. If my daughter ever ends up with that many independent study records, I can easily to split them into separate files by subject and avoid having to upgrade.

How do I get rid of your records and enter mine?

After clicking through to the template, click on the title, High School Independent Study Tracker (at the top middle of your screen), to bring up the menu for the base. Then choose Duplicate base from the options listed.

To start with a clean database, turn off the Duplicate records switch. Then press the blue button to Duplicate base.

I’ve got the base. Now what?

Now that you have your own copy to customize, you will probably want to change the title. Simply click on High School Independent Study Tracker copy to bring up the base menu and enter your preferred title. You can also change the color and icon here.

How do I share this with my student?

The base menu also allows you to share the file with your student. Click on Share, enter your student’s email address, and choose the level of access she should have.

Read only access does not allow her to enter information at all. Editor access allows her to log her activity. I gave my daughter Creator access so she can also add any additional fields (columns) she finds helpful.

After selecting your student’s access level, click the blue button to Send invite. Airtable will send your student a direct link to the base. Close the Share window, and you are ready to roll.

How do we log my student’s time’?

In the Time Log tab, you or your student can enter each activity, date and time, minutes spent, and subject. When you type in a subject name, Airtable will show you a list of subjects (if any) already in the database. Select from the list, or type in a new one and press enter to add it.

How do I see my student’s total hours for each subject?

Airtable automatically calculates the total hours based on the information you and your student enter.

Click the Subjects tab to see your student’s total hours and how much of a credit he has earned. In this tab, you can also add specific subjects for your student to choose from.

Are you excited?

I love being able to automate tasks like adding up the total hours or determining how much credit to give to my student, don’t you? I am excited that my daughter can enter her activities on my own, and we can both see her progress. We can even do it on our smartphones using the Airtable app!

Will this Airtable chart help you and your student? Please comment to let me know how you like it. If you have any trouble using it, I’d be happy to help!