Q&A: How Do Online Teachers Monitor Attendance?

Answer: Attendance in an online class is taken by the students' presence in the classroom and/or their participation. In most online classrooms, teachers can view how often or the last time each student has accessed the classroom. This tells the instructor which students are in the classroom daily or regularly; if any student waits until the last moment to log on and submit assignments; or what students aren't logging in at all.

Each school/college has different attendance policies. I used to teach online at a community college. For a student to be seen as attended, this meant they had to submit an assignment, by the due date, each week. If the student didn't submit anything, the entire week, they were withdrawn from the class. However, if the student had three assignments due, they only had to submit (at least) one to remain in the course. This negatively affected their grade, but they weren't dropped for not attending.

Other colleges may have different expectations or policies. Some colleges don't drop or withdraw students, they just miss the points and cannot make them up. In some online classes, students are required to attend a specific number of live lectures, offered throughout the week. For example, the teacher may offer two or three live lectures with the same content each week. In order to fulfill their attendance requirements, students may need to attend one of these weekly live sessions.

Another way online instructors track attendance is through the discussion board. Almost all online classes require students to respond and communicate with their peers in a discussion board or forum. The board usually contains questions that pertain to the weekly topic. Students post a specific number of responses and/or their responses must be a specific length for credit and attendance.

It really is to the advantage of the students to fully participate and attend their online classes. Since most instructors have strict rules about attendance and late assignments, students should make sure to read the syllabus and class policies when class begins. If you have questions, ask your teacher. That's what they are there for; to guide you and help you be successful.

Dr. Beverley BrowningDr. Beverly A. Browning (Dr. Bev) has been a higher education adjunct faculty member for over 25 years. She has taught in the classroom and online for multiple colleges and universities including Spring Arbor College, Baker College of Flint, Mott Community College, and Rio Salado College. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Spring Arbor College and Mott Community College. She is currently an online instructor for ed2go.com (Cengage Learning). In addition to founding and directing the Grant Writing Training Foundation, Dr. Bev is also Vice President of Grants Professional Services for eCivis, Inc. She is the author over over 37 grant-related publications and a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter for national and regional conferences. Dr. Bev is a product of lifelong learning and an advocate for online teaching and learning!