How to Track Attendance & Engagement for your Online Learning Program

August 17, 2022

Want to make sure students in your bootcamp or online learning program are on track? Collecting the right data can be a surefire way to unlock game-changing insights to see where students are falling off and how your program could be better. 

But collecting this data isn’t necessarily easy. First, you’ll need to tackle a series of tough questions:

  • Which data should you collect? 
  • How can you collect it without a ton of extra manual work? 
  • What can you actually do with that data? 

We tackle these questions below. We also share ways to automate your data collection and interpretation processes to make sure you’re not wasting precious time on admin tasks and can really focus on acting on those juicy insights. 

Which data should you collect? 

There are a variety of different metrics worth tracking to get a clear sense of whether or not your students are engaged. 

Attendance Metrics

It makes sense: students that miss class are more likely to fall behind. But tracking live session attendees doesn’t just help you flag at-risk students, it can also be helpful for big picture strategic decisions, such as which classes are resonating most, which time slots tend to be most attended, and when in an online learning program do students tend to fall off most. 

Some specific attendance metrics to track include: 

  • Live Session Attendance - Track overall attendance to get a sense of individual student progress or use this data to calculate attendance rates for specific sessions or programs. 
  • Live Session Join Times - This can help you determine who arrives on time and who hops in late. Chronically late students might warrant a little extra attention to make sure they stay on track. 
  • Live Session Leave Times - Just because a student joins a session doesn’t mean they stay until the end (or even to the halfway point). Tracking leave times shows you who is cutting out early and which classes are failing to keep students’ attention. 

Community Engagement Metrics 

Lots of online learning programs and bootcamps use community tools like Slack or Discord so that their students can interact, provide each other with support, answer prompts, or share resources. Engagement with these community tools can provide key insights into who is actively engaging in your program and who might have other priorities. While this data can be game-changing, programs often don’t track it because it can be tricky to extract and interpret. 

Some specific engagement metrics to track include: 

  • Community Posts - Check in to see who is taking initiative and posting across your community tool, whether its Slack, Discord, or something else entirely. 
  • Community Comments - Comments also signal engagement, since students that comment are clearly actively interacting, sharing feedback, answering questions, etc. 
  • Community Reactions - Emojis count too! While less telling than posts, tracking reactions at the very least shows you who is logged in to your community tool and reading through what’s there. 

Finally, this data will be most valuable if you’re able to collect it in a way that lets you view changes over time. Viewing Slack posts on a given day is nice, but viewing Slack posts over a 7-day or 30-day period really lets you see engagement, drop-off, and any fluctuations in between.

There are 3 surefire warning signs that a student is struggling in your online learning program. Learn all about them here

How can you collect this data without a ton of extra manual work? 

Luckily, manually counting attendees and Slack posts isn’t the only game in town for collecting attendance and engagement data. Here are two ways to get this data easily using automation.



If you or someone on your team is tech savvy, you can pull attendance data straight from the Zoom API. Slack and Discord also have APIs that you can use to collect general engagement data. 

The good news is that this option doesn’t involve subscribing to another SaaS tool. 

The bad news is that it requires some level of tech savvy. Additionally, the Zoom data is most accurate if students are actually signed in to their Zoom accounts (which isn’t always the case when students come to class). 



With Virtually, you can automatically track attendance for all of your online sessions. With overall attendance, join times, leave times, individual student attendance overviews, and auto-exporting via Zapier, you can easily get a clear view of how your live sessions are performing. 

If your team uses Slack, Virtually can also pull all engagement data across public and private channels, including posts, comments, and reactions. 

From there, you can create reports to aggregate attendance and engagement data, establishing specific criteria and auto-flagging students that meet those criteria to get a clear sense of who’s at risk of drop-off. 

Is your student success team getting bogged down with tons of admin tasks? See how to streamline your student success workflow here

What can you actually do with this data? 

It’s true, collecting a ton of raw data isn’t worth the effort if you’re not actually acting on it. Here are some ways to take action on your attendance and engagement data: 

  • Reach out to students that are struggling. If you see a specific student isn’t attending class or engaging in Slack or Discord, you can reach out to check in and offer support.
  • Reward your star students. Want to make sure your star students feel seen? Use attendance and engagement data to shout out your top performers. 
  • Make strategic decisions. If attendance is especially low for certain sessions, maybe there are ways you could tweak those sessions to make them more appealing. If Slack engagement wanes by week 3 of your program, maybe you can test out different Slack prompts or rearrange your Slack cadence. One thing’s for certain, data can do a ton to guide your team’s strategic decisions.   

Needless to say, attendance and engagement data can play a vital role in monitoring the health of your online learning program. 

Curious how to intervene with struggling learners to boost completion rates? See how here.


Interested in how the Virtually Student Relationship Manager (SRM) can help supercharge your student data collection processes? 

Schedule a demo here to learn how the SRM can automate your student data collection and aggregation, flag at risk students, and automatically reach out to those students to check in and offer support. 


Read Next: How to Build a Student CRM with Airtable 

Laura Marks

Laura Marks is Head of Customer Experience at Virtually