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Build an Attendance Tracker in Airtable

Feb 10, 2020

Given Airtable's flexibility, it's not surprising that users sometimes struggle to build the optimal architecture for their databases. One question I've received numerous times over the past month has been in relation to structuring around attendance for a schools, classes, or events.

When I hear the word attendance, I think back to the scantrons that my high school teachers used. Student names ran down the left side, dates ran across the top. If a student missed a scheduled class, the teacher would bubble in the scantron where the student and specific date intersected. As soon as the front office scanned that puppy, that kid's parents were getting a phone call. Seems like a ridiculous system now, but hey - it was the 90s.

Today, we can build the relationship between students and attended classes in a more sophisticated setting thanks to Airtable. In fact, the flexibility of Airtable allows us to build even more robust relationships.

In this video example, I'm assuming that students pay in advance for sessions. Then, when these sessions are attended, we effectively want to draw against the bank of purchased sessions. From here, we can derive a student's current status... Have they attended all their sessions yet? Do they have unused sessions? This should all be derived from the underlying data.

The big thinking shift that has to occur here is that, where the scantron is concerned, a teacher has a two variable matrix and marks attendance where the points intersect. In Airtable, we don't get to visualize the data quite that same way. Instead, each intersection of student and scheduled class is its own row (record) of data. Making that shift is sometimes difficult, but once you start building your attendance this way, you'll instantly see the value.


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