Federal Policy Guidelines

The Federal government has not issued formal guidelines regarding what constitutes the “Last Day of Attendance” in the online classroom. However, because of the potential for financial aid fraud in online programs, the US Department of Education has recently determined that there should be “regular and substantive interaction between students and faculty” in online courses (Salomon and Murray).

What this means for distance education

It is not enough to evaluate a student’s attendance based solely on the number and frequency of logins or through course statistics on the LMS. Instructors may drop students based on their lack of participation in class. ‘Attendance’ (through logins) is not the same as participation. Participation means actively completing course activities in the LMS such as assignments, assessments, posting on discussion forums, etc. 

Participation policies must be clarified in the online syllabus 

GCC’s Drop Policy Guidelines

Once enrolled in courses, students are not considered dropped or withdrawn unless:

  • They have dropped the course Online via MyGCC or
  • They have dropped the course with an Add/Drop form in person at the Admissions & Records office.

A grade of “W” will not be made on the permanent academic record of a student who drops or is dropped from the course or from college:

  • During the first two weeks of a semester-length course;
  • During the first week of a course which is at least five weeks in length and less than a semester in length; or
  • During the first 20% of a course which is less than five weeks in length

What this means for distance education

The face-to-face policy of ‘attending’ the first class, particularly for students who are new to distance education may present a problem. There are often students who, either because they are unaware of the policies or overwhelmed by the technology, may login to the course but might not complete any of the assignments by the orientation meeting + 2 days.

It is therefore important for online and hybrid instructors to provide a coherent and well-defined course drop policy and to articulate this in the initial email and Welcome Letter (see above) sent to the students 2 working days prior to the course orientation date as well as in the online course syllabus.

Last updated: 7/25/2013 3:43:36 PM