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 selecting Share.
  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.

Generate a Zoom Usage Report

“Generate Attendance Reports in Zoom” by Teaching and Learning Conestoga, in collaboration with the Online Learning Center, 2020.

Using a Zoom Poll

This video shows how to use Zoom Polls. Polls need to be created before the meeting begins.

Using the Polls feature, create a poll that allows only one option: (Here or Not Here). You can then generate a Meeting Report in Zoom that will reflect the results of this poll, which can be used to track attendance.

As with the usage reports, students who are not signed in may have their full names listed.

Using Microsoft Teams

This video details how to generate a list of participants in Teams.

“Download the meeting attendance report in Teams” by Mike Tholfsen, 2020

Choose this attendance strategy when you:

  • want to save time by not taking attendance manually or multiple times in class;
  • are comfortable downloading and using reports;
  • want to use the same Zoom meeting link for recurring meetings.


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.

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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.

6 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.

  2. Now that I have students signing in with Conestoga ID, there is a setting in Forms the “only people in my organization can respond” and “Record Name” and “One response per person” (so they can’t sign in a friend) are setting I’m going to try. So far so good.

    • That’s great, Barbara. Requiring students to sign in is an extra step that may be perceived or experienced as a barrier to accessing the meeting, but you’re right that once Zoom recognizes their credential other MS collaborative document sharing is easier.

  3. I’m in the AMM program and mostly have shop classes so students have to physically sign-in on a class list that my shop tech monitors during the class. As for online instructing my students have to turn on their video feed so I can check my photo page class list.

    • Thanks, Brent! There are lots of different ways to take attendance. Students have the right to refuse to be recorded, so as long as the video feed checking happens without recording, it’s definitely another way.

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