Jesse Anderson

Is online access to course materials hurting attendance?

Discussion created by Jesse Anderson on Mar 15, 2018
Latest reply on Mar 24, 2018 by Kimberly Smith

I wanted to post the question of whether Canvas course material access is hurting class attendance. 


I currently teach in-person AutoCAD and Revit courses at a regional 2-year college and have noticed a disquieting disparity between student attendance and learning outcomes. Not what you might expect though. To my surprise, even when class attendance is low for some students, their comprehension of content, and execution of assignment parameters is still quite high. To put it another way: even if students don't show up, they're still achieving results similar to those who attend class regularly.


But just the numerical results...


This prompted the question of whether course material access (not just for online or hybrid courses) is starting to have a reciprocal attendance effect on some students. If students have (roughly) 24 hr access to fully defined course materials, are some opting to de-emphasize class attendance in favor of work areas they find more comfortable? Does the class interactive-dynamic no longer mean as much?


In my classes, I emphasize the important role of conversation throughout the 2-1/2 hr/2 days per week schedule. The students, in my opinion, stand to gain much more by mobilizing their learning to an extent, getting out of their seats, working with others, asking questions, and getting the support of students who may find certain aspects easier. The assignments are fully defined and available online. I don't require handouts to be delivered, nor do I withhold certain course content just for those who attend. It's all there, 24/7.


Short of altering the grading criteria, requiring a higher percentage of a student's overall score to be based on attendance, what methods or experiences have any of you had that helps to 'recalibrate' the necessity of attendance? In today's learning environment, I agree that online course content access must remain a top priority, democratizing skill development. But the flipside of this emphasis appears (at least to me) to be disincentivizing the classroom community aspects that have a unique and strengthening impact in all phases of learning.


Your thoughts?