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Attendance in Online Classes

The amended 34 CFR Section 668.22 of the Higher Education Amendment (HEA) of 1998 became effective on 7/1/2011 and provided this definition of “Academic Attendance”:

(7)(i) "Academic attendance" and "attendance at an academically-related activity"—

(A) Include, but are not limited to—

(1) Physically attending a class where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between the instructor and students;
(2) Submitting an academic assignment; tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction;
(3) Taking an exam, an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction;
(4) Attending a study group that is assigned by the institution;
(5) Participating in an online discussion about academic matters; and
(6) Initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course; and

(B) Do not include activities where a student may be present, but not academically engaged, such as—

(1) Living in institutional housing;
(2) Participating in the institution’s meal plan;
(3) Logging into an online class without active participation; or
(4) Participating in academic counseling or advisement

Source: Office of Postsecondary Education

To be clear: merely logging in to an online class does NOT count as attendance.

To confirm attendance (identify no shows), instructors should require some online activity during the first week (7 days) of class. Completion of the activity indicates attendance. For example, instructors might ask students to (1) introduce themselves in an online discussion forum, (2) complete a quiz over the course syllabus, (3) complete a diagnostic test, or (4) submit a writing sample.

To determine last date of attendance (R2T4), instructors should determine Last Date of Attendance based on the mostly recently completed course activity. Examples include discussion forums, quizzes, assignments (uploading documents), participation in virtual classrooms, as well as academic contact through KCTCS email. The Blackboard Performance Dashboard lists the last date of activity in discussion forums, and the Blackboard Gradebook puts a time stamp on all graded activities. Third party software programs typically provide timestamps for activities.

To provide as accurate a last date of attendance as possible, it is best practice for instructors to assign course activities on a regular basis, ideally once per week.