Q&A: Emergencies and Online Education

Q&A: What Do I Do in the Event of an Emergency?

Answer: For emergencies, schools and instructors usually allow students some time to address the emergency. The following scenarios can classify as an emergency: unforeseen medical emergency, medical emergency of an immediate relative, death of a family member, or natural disaster (such as a hurricane or storm). There may be other cases that qualify as emergencies as well, and it's likely that the school or your instructor will ask for supporting documentation.

Situations that aren't considered emergencies or reasons to be away from class include working additional hours or overtime at your job, going on vacation, moving, having visitors and so on.

If you are having technical issues on your own computer or with your Internet connection, the instructor may allow some additional time to complete an assignment. However, this is at the instructor's discretion. Since you are in an online course, it's your responsibility to participate in the class. In these situations, it's recommended that students use a friend's or family member's computer or try their local library.

All schools and/or instructors have specific policies on class attendance. They may require a certain number of logins per week, or a set amount of posts or communication. Other schools may only ask students to submit work by a weekly due date without a specific amount of time that must be spent in class; however, this case is less common.

If you have to miss class and it's only for a day or two, your instructor is likely to work with you. If you are late submitting an assignment, you may miss points for being late, depending on your situation. If you are in a crisis or an emergency that could keep you from class for a week or more, there may be other options, so contact your academic or student advisor.

Regardless of the reason, anytime you will be away from the class, you need to communicate with your instructor. Communication may be a key to doing well in your class and maintaining good rapport.

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 the University of Phoenix, 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!

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