In addition to federal and state guidelines, College of the Desert has instituted the following policies to govern distance education courses:
Distance education means instruction in which the instructor and student are separated by distance and interact through the assistance of communication technology.
Consistent with federal regulations pertaining to federal financial aid eligibility, the District authenticates or verifies that the student who registers in a distance education course is the same student who participates in and completes the course of program and receives the academic credit. The District will provide to each student at the time of registration, a statement of the process in place to protect student privacy and estimated additional student charges associated with verification of student identity, if any. The Vice President of Student Learning shall utilize one or more of these methods to authenticate or verify the student’s identity:
secure credentialing/login and password;
proctored examinations; or
new or other technologies and practices that are effective in verifying student identification.
Distance learning courses shall contain the same content, rigor, and course quality as traditional courses and must meet all state and federal requirements. Each proposed or existing course offered through distance learning shall be reviewed and approved separately by the Curriculum Committee. Separate approval is mandatory, according to Title 5, Sections 55378 and 55206, if any portion of the instruction in a course or a course section is designed to be replaced through distance learning. The review and approval of new and existing distance learning courses shall follow curriculum approval procedures as outlined in AP 4020.
Online courses must be available on or before 8 A.M. on the first day of class.
Online course materials must clearly state to the students what constitutes checking into the course.
Examples of check-in activities include participation in discussion forums or blogs, a syllabus quiz, or any other meaningful activity that requires meaningful student interaction.
Simply logging into the Learning Management System (CANVAS) is not considered a meaningful activity.
Faculty have the right to drop, as a No Show, a student who does not complete the check-in procedure within 48 hours. The 48 hours begins at 8 AM on the first day of class.
The COD Faculty Enrollment Services Guide describes the importance of recording a student’s last date of attendance or activity if they received a grade of ‘F’ or ‘FW’ in the course. The guide states:
“Last date of ‘known activity’ is the last date of physical presence in the classroom or last date of participation in an online class.”
New federal guidelines regarding the “last date of attendance” in online classes state that 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. Instead, we need to document the date the student stopped being engaged in the work of the class (i.e. submitting assignments, assessments, posting to discussion forums, etc.). Faculty will have to document the student’s work until the point of dropping the student and save whatever work has been submitted up to that point.
Furthermore, instructors should drop students based on their participation in class. ‘Attendance’ (through logins) is not the same as participation. Participation means actively completing course activities in the LMS such as submitting assignments, assessments, posting on discussion forums, etc.
It is the right of the faculty member to determine their own participation policy but must state it in their syllabus. The new DOE guidelines are meant to protect the institution from students who are receiving financial aid assistance but who are not participating in class.
Below is a sample drop policy you can include in your syllabus:
If a student has not participated in discussions or other forms of communication and/or has not submitted assignments for _______ consecutive days/weeks, the instructor has the right to drop the student from the course. OR If a student has not participated in ________ consecutive discussions or other forms of communication and/or has not turned in __________ consecutive assignments, the instructor has the right to drop the student from the course.
Faculty have the right to set the amount of time or assignments missed before they drop a student; however, you must document the student’s work until the point of dropping. This means saving the assignment as well as recording the date of the assignment.