Instructors - Recording Attendance for Online Courses (Both Campuses)

Attendance in online courses works a little differently than it does for face-to-face courses.

In online courses, attendance is based on a student's participation in an academically related activity.

From the 2022-2023 Federal Student Aid Handbook (Volume 5, Chapter 2 Part 1 - 34 CFR 668.22(l)(7) and 600.2)

Documenting attendance when students are enrolled in distance education courses For distance education, documenting that a student has logged into an online class is not sufficient to demonstrate academic attendance by the student. A school must demonstrate that a student participated in class or was otherwise engaged in an academically related activity. Examples of acceptable evidence of academic attendance and attendance at an academically related activity in a distance education course/program include, but are not limited to:

  • student submission of an academic assignment,
  • student submission of an exam,
  • documented student participation in an interactive tutorial, webinar or other interactive computer-assisted instruction,
  • a posting by the student showing the student's participation in an online study group that is assigned by the institution,
  • a posting by the student in a discussion forum showing the student's participation in an online discussion about academic matters, and 
  • an email from the student or other documentation showing that the student-initiated contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course.

Please note that only active participation by a student in an instructional activity related to the student's course of study that meets the definition of “academic engagement” in 34 CFR 600.2 and takes place during a payment period or period of enrollment qualifies as attendance in an academically related activity. If a period of orientation takes place prior to the start of a course, it would not qualify as attendance in an academically related activity.

From the point of view of RCSJ's distance education staff, the key in the guidelines above is documenting whether or not a student has engaged in an academically related activity pertaining to the course subject or discipline. That means it is incredibly important to ensure that in the first week of activities for your online course, you include an academically related activity.

Here are some suggestions for academically related activities you might include in your first week:

  • A discussion forum where students introduce themselves, and also speak about their familiarity with the topics of the course or which topic is most interesting to them and why, or what they already know about the topic.
  • A syllabus quiz that contains at least one question about topics covered in the course (as opposed to course policies).
    • Tip: use a multiple-answer question type and mark every answer as correct so it is more like a poll than a right/wrong answer

If you have questions, you can reach out to your eLearning Support team for more guidance. In some cases, the academic division may need to be part of the discussion.

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Article ID: 147504
Tue 10/3/23 1:25 PM
Thu 10/5/23 9:52 AM