Electronic Attendance

FOR FALL OF 2020, please note the memorandum at the following link:  Attendance Policy Adjustments—Fall 2020. The changes to the attendance policy reflected in the memorandum are applicable for the Fall 2020 semester only and only replace the existing attendance policy, set forth below, to the extent that they are in conflict with it. On all matters on which the memorandum policy is silent, the attendance policy below continues to apply.

Canvas Roll Call

The Attendance (Roll Call) tool is an external app (LTI) used for taking attendance in Canvas courses. The Attendance tool can be used for online or face-to-face courses. To enable the tool, you must first enable it in the course site that you want to use it in.

  • Click Settings on the left-side course menu.
  • Click the Navigation tab.
  • Find the Attendance tool in the list of course navigation tools (it will likely be towards the bottom of the list).
  • Click on it to drag and drop the tool to the top list of navigational tools OR
  • Click the Edit Course Navigation (three vertical dots icon) to the right of the tool.
  • Select +Enable.
  • Scroll down and click Save.

To take attendance each time, follow the Roll Call instructions.

Asynchronous with Panopto

You can view attendance for asynchronous watching of classes by using the statistics that are built into Panopto videos. These statistics will give you information such as how often your videos are being viewed, what portions of your videos users are watching most, and which users are accessing your videos. This documentation shows you how to access statistics and what information is provided.

Note: In order to know if students are watching the videos and for how long, you must share videos to either "specific people" like your Canvas class or use the "Anyone at your organization..."

Top Hat

Prepare Your Top Hat Account and Classes with Canvas

Integrating Canvas and Top Hat will allow Top Hat to pull your class roster information from your Canvas course, and also push grades and attendance information from Top Hat to the Canvas Gradebook.

See full documentation from the Teaching Center.

Prepare Your Top Hat Account and Classes without Canvas

Note: You may want to consider using Canvas to just push the class roster out to Canvas instead of adding students manually.

All faculty have access to use Top Hat.  You may also follow the instructions from Pitt to sync Top Hat with Canvas if you are using Canvas.

1. Navigate to tophat.com, click the "Login" button.

2. You'll start by selecting your school.

3.     You should be taken to Pitt's SSO sign-in page - or if you are already logged in on your browser, it may take you straight to the course creation page.

4. If this is your first time using TopHat, you may also be prompted to set your account as an Instructor or Student. If you have already created a TopHat account with your Pitt email address, but are not redirected to the SSO sign-in page, you might also be prompted to merge your account with Pitt's SSO account system. More on this available here: TopHat Account Creation and Management.

5. If you are receiving an error message indicating that your email address is already in use, it is a symptom of there already being a Top Hat account created with the email address you are inputting.  More on this is available here: Email Address Already in Use (Links to an external site.)

Creating Your Course

Your initial course will be created during the registration process. After entering your university and account details, you will be prompted to create your first course:

When you complete the registration process, you will be taken into your newly created course! To manage your course settings, such as changing the name of your course, please see here: Professor: Editing your Course Settings.

If you’re teaching multiple sections of the same course, we highly recommend that you create one Top Hat course for each section. This will make it easy to manage each group of students individually. If you’re teaching the same course but in a different semester, we also recommend creating a new copy of the course to keep the old section’s information intact. To transfer content between courses you can use our great copy feature: Professor: Copying or Duplicating Course Content.

Top Hat Purpose and Use

Top Hat allows instructors to quickly take attendance and engage students throughout lectures by asking them to respond to questions and discussion prompts using their own device.

In addition, Top Hat enables faculty to:

  • Create homework or assignments for students to complete outside of the classroom.
  • Adopt and assign digital textbooks, including free open educational resources.

Please see the Quick Start Guide for full instructions on use.

Setup Attendance

Taking attendance with Top Hat is quick and easy! There are a few different ways in which to initiate an attendance session, but regardless of the journey, the outcome is the same - Top Hat will generate a random 4-digit attendance code that will be displayed only on the projected screen in your lecture hall. Students may check in for attendance by submitting the session's attendance code in the field provided when logged into their Top Hat account using a mobile application (iOS or Android) or web browser, or by texting the attendance code to the Top Hat SMS response number.

Please see the Attendance Guide.  If you chose not to include any of your course content other than using the attendance tool, please create one slide to use for each time you initiate attendance.

Quick-Start Attendance With No Setup

To bypass creating any slides or questions, enter the course.  Provide the join code at the top prior to the first class and the documents for students.

When ready to do attendance, click on Create > Take Attendance.  This will launch the attendance screen. 


You must leave it active and provide the information on the screen to students.  Once you are ready to finish attendance, you may then click on Finish.

For more questions, please contact University Center for Teaching and Learning.


The University Center for Teaching and Learning has documented all tools provided in this section. This serves as a guide to finding that documentation. You can always contact them by the following means:

University Center for Teaching and Learning
Support Hours: Monday – Friday 8-5
Phone: 412-648-2832
Email: teaching@pitt.edu

CSSD Technology Help Desk
Support Hours: 24/7/365
Phone: 412-624-4357
Email: helpdesk@pitt.edu