The Touch-Screen Assistant is an add-on program for the Volunteer Reporter. It enables your volunteers to sign themselves in and out using a touch-screen monitor. It is essentially the same as a time clock. Once a volunteer has signed out, their hours are automatically posted to the Volunteer Reporter without any further data entry. This can save your staff a lot of time entering hours into the Reporter at the end of every month.
The Touch-Screen Assistant consists of two parts -- the Assistant and the Administrator. The Assistant is what your volunteers see on the touch-screen monitor. It enables your volunteers to enter their PIN and sign themselves in and out. The Administrator runs on another computer on your network and enables you to watch and manage the activities of your volunteers as they sign themselves in and out. Since the Assistant and Administrator interact with each and with the Volunteer Reporter, all three programs must be installed on the same computer network so that the data can be shared by all.
Why are we using PINs to sign in volunteers?
- The touch-screen interface is very easy for volunteers to use.
- If you allow it, your volunteers can also use their social security numbers to sign in with.
- See who's currently signed in.
- Sign out a volunteer who forgets to do so.
- Approve hours over a set limit before posting.
- Assign and change PINs at any time.
- You choose whether to let your volunteers change their own PIN or not.
- Set your own hello and goodbye messages.
We use PINs (Personal Identification Numbers) because they offer the best compromise between ease of use and data protection. Most people are familiar with PINs from their bank's ATMs. Your volunteers can use a PIN they are already familiar with either by changing it themselves or having you set it for them.
One alternative to PINs would have been simply to let your volunteers pick their name off a list on the screen, but this allows someone to easily cause mischief by signing in anyone at any time. Yes, someone can still cause mischief by entering random PINs until finding a match, but it's less likely to happen.
A more secure system would have been to pick a name off a list first and then enter the correct PIN for that person, but this would have been more cumbersome for your volunteers to use.
Even more secure would be a system with key cards or bar codes on name tags, but the complexity would have added greatly to the cost of hardware and software needed. Hardware and Software Requirements
The Touch-Screen Assistant must be installed on a computer network, not a single, stand-alone computer. It interacts with the Volunteer Reporter continuously and both must access the same data at the same time.
- Touch-Screen Monitor
The Touch-Screen Assistant works with any touch-screen monitor. We don't have a recommendation of a particular brand or model. You can also choose any size of touch-screen monitor. Since the Touch-Screen Assistant uses large buttons, it will work on even a small, 14 inch touch-screen monitor.You can purchase touch-screen monitors locally or mail-order. Here are some possible mail-order sources:
The computer with the touch-screen monitor needs to be used for just this one purpose. It will normally be set up in a public part of the office so that volunteers can easily sign themselves in and out. Since it will only be used for this one application, it can be a older, slower computer. Pretty much any computer with a Pentium or faster processor should work fine and slower computers may work as well, but we haven't tested them.
The Touch-Screen Assistant will run on Windows 95 or any newer version of Windows.
- Volunteer Reporter
The Volunteer Reporter, version 5.5 or greater, must be installed on the same network as the Touch-Screen Assistant.