Should Attendance Still be Considered a Requirement in Virtual School?

August 31st, 2012 No Comments Other

Student raising hand

It’s elementary. Education, by its very nature is intended to be an interactive medium.

Teachers teach. They provide tools, techniques, key concepts, and exercises to help students to gain and master important skills and increase their knowledge base.

Students, in turn, process, apply, complete assignments, pose questions, test theories, and provide feedback to demonstrate their understanding of various subject matters.

This learning can take place in a traditional setting, or in a “virtual” environment.

Yet, most would agree that one of the advantages to online learning and the choice to participate in this type of educational experience is the freedom and flexibility it provides—particularly for adult students with other demands.

Virtual classroom instruction means that students can avoid the hassles of fighting rush-hour traffic, or commuting in inclement weather, or having other stressors that can add to an otherwise bad day. They can also avoid the potential embarrassment of being scolded if their tardiness interrupts an important lecture.

Freedom is a big plus for online learners. However, “attendance” on some levels is required for progress. Still, it’s not quite clear how “participation” or attendance should be tracked and assessed for recordkeeping and compliance purposes.

In fact, many virtual schools have no attendance standard. Additionally, some schools differ on how online absenteeism is viewed and handled, and whether it should even be factored into students’evaluation . In a recent piece at, Rick Nettesheim of eAcademy contends that “Learning isn’t about seat time anymore, but the laws have yet to keep up with that.”

If attendance becomes a requirement for which online students will be held accountable, distance learning could potentially lose its appeal for some.

Do you think that attendance should be factored into the success equation for today’s virtual learner?

Image by EdenPictures


Andrianes Pinantoan is InformED's editor and part of the marketing team behind Open Colleges. When not working, he can be found reading about two of his favourite subjects: education and psychology. You can find him on Google+ or @andreispsyched.

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