Take Attendance in Remote Synchronous Classrooms

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Taking attendance in remote synchronous class meetings promotes student participation, helps faculty to learn students’ names, supports at-risk students, and makes supporting documentation.

There are different ways to take remote class attendance. This tip provides three sets of ways to track attendance. Suggestions for choosing an attendance strategy are listed in each section below.

Note: Synchronous meeting attendance must be compared to the official course enrollment list. Visit the Employee Portal (under Faculty/Class Lists) in myConestoga to access the course enrollment list.

Click the accordion buttons (+) below for more information.

In-Meeting Attendance

The attendance strategies in this section are low-tech. Unless repeated partway or at the end of class, these strategies do not account for latecomers or early-leavers.

In-class roll call. Download the class enrollment list from myConestoga, or screenshare the list on eConestoga. Read out each name on the list, and have students raise their hands or use the microphone to respond to the roll call.  

Text chat roll call: Ask students to type their name into the Group chat. Once all present have typed their names, save a copy of the chat as a text file. Compare the list of names to the enrollment list.

Meeting screenshots: Use shortcut buttons on your device to take screen captures of students currently in the meeting room. Compare the list of names to the enrollment list. This way does not require students to do anything in the way of attendance taking. (See How to Take Screenshots on any Device.)

Choose one of these ways to take attendance when you:

  • want to match the students in the room to the class list
  • want to take time in class to connect students via roll call
  • want students to practice using the meeting room features
  • are unfamiliar with more tech-heavy sign in strategies
  • aren’t concerned about tracking attendee time in class
  • wish to keep your Zoom meeting room accessible by enabling students to log on without their Conestoga credentials

Digital Sign-In Document or Form

Pre-create an Office 365 collaborative document (Word, Excel, or an MS Form), and share it as a digital attendance sign-in sheet. Note that to account for latecomers, the sign-in sheet hyperlink should be shared multiple times during class.

Steps for Collaborative Attendance Sheets

  1. Create an Office 365 sign in-sheet within your course OneDrive folder. (See Document Collaboration or Co-Authoring). Name the document.
  2. Or, create a new MS Form. (See O365 Forms.) Include as categories student name and email. Name the document. Download sample template.
  3. Copy the shareable document hyperlink by clicking Click on FILE, then SHARE LINK (see Fig 1).
  4. Paste the link in the in the text chat of your class meeting.
  5. Ask students to open the file and add their names only. The list may be compared to the enrollment list downloaded via the Employee Portal.

Fig 1: Share Excel attendance sheet.

Choose this way to take attendance when you:

  • want to save time by not taking attendance manually in class
  • trust that that students will enter their own names only
  • want a customizable sign in sheet
  • aren’t concerned about tracking time in class
  • wish to keep your Zoom meeting room accessible by enabling students to log on without their Conestoga credentials

Meeting Room Report or Poll

Zoom and Teams both provide usage reports with automatically generated attendee statistics after the meeting has ended. This strategy can also be used as a back up in case other approaches miss someone.

Note that if a student does not sign in with their Conestoga credentials prior to joining the Zoom meeting room, Zoom may not recognize and report their full name.

Steps for Zoom Usage Report

  1. After the meeting, access the usage report. For Zoom, see Generate Meeting Attendance Report As Host (see Fig 2). For Teams, see Use activity reports for MS Teams.
  2. Choose the date for the specified class meeting. The reports track who entered the meeting room and their time in the room.
  3. For Zoom, ensure that you click the box “Show Unique Users” to avoid duplicating entries (some students enter the room more than once).
  4. Download the .csv (Excel readable) file that lists participants, which may be compared to the enrollment list from the Employee Portal.

Fig 2 Retrieve Zoom usage report

Steps for Zoom Poll

  1. Create a poll that allows only one option: (Here or Not Here)
  2. Log into the Zoom portal using your Conestoga credentials, then click the Reports tab.
  3. In the Reports section, click the Meetings tab. The Meeting Reports will provide you with a downloadable .csv file containing the poll results.
  4. As with the usage reports, students who are not signed in may have their full names listed.

Steps for MS Teams

  1. During the meeting, go to the People list and click on the “down arrow” icon at the top of the window.
  2. The .csv (Excel readable) file that lists participants appears in your download folder, and lists all student that enter or left the meeting and at what time.

Choose this attendance strategy when you:

  • want to save time by not taking attendance manually or multiple times in class
  • require students to sign into Zoom (“authenticated users”) before logging onto the meeting
  • are comfortable downloading and using reports
  • want to use the same Zoom meeting link for recurring meetings

Conclusion

Each attendance strategy has its own own benefits and limitations.

To ensure accuracy in attendance-taking, one may use a range of strategies. For instance, for the first few weeks of class it may be beneficial to do an in-class roll call. Then, in subsequent classes, use either a collaborative document or screenshots, which may be compared to usage statistics downloaded after class.

Detailed technical support for these activities are available through the Zoom Help Center and the Microsoft Docs support site.

Want to learn more about promoting attendance in remote synchronous classes? See the post, Remote Class Attendance and Email Management.


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  • Published: June 9, 2020
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Elan Paulson

Elan Paulson, PhD, has been an educator in Ontario's higher education system since 2004. Before joining Conestoga as a Teaching and Learning Consultant, Elan was on the executive team at eCampusOntario. She previously served as Program Director and as an instructor in professional education programs at Western University's Faculty of Education. With a Master's in Educational Technology, Elan specializes in technology-enabled and collaborative learning to support diverse learners. She has also conducted research on faculty participation in communities of practice for professional learning and self-care.

2 Responses

  1. MS Teams also has a feature to download attendance in a .csv file (excel readable). During the meeting go to the People list and click on the “down arrow” icon at the top of the window. The file appears in your download folder and list all student that enter or left the meeting and at what time.

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