Burlap Sack: Mandatory attendance in online courses

Remote instruction offers the benefit giving students more agency with their time. Mandatory attendance policies steal this away

For those of you who have 8 a.m. lectures, you know the trouble of having to wake up so early. I’m sure if you had the chance, you would hit that snooze button on your alarm.

Remote learning has given students the opportunity to create their own schedule and study at their own pace. In-person learning did not provide students as much freedom to do things they enjoy, such as spending time with family or friends, and sleeping in. Online school gives people further control over their time and how they manage their day.

However, mandatory attendance for online lectures ruins it all!

It can be quite frustrating for students who have classes requiring mandatory attendance. Especially with remote learning, students may have other commitments and mandatory participation would seem like a chore. In gradually adapting to online learning, some students prefer to study at their own convenience. They have resources such as lecture notes and textbooks to aid them in their learning, so class time may not necessarily be needed to facilitate learning. 

And let us not forget about international students or students studying abroad who may find it difficult to commit to mandatory attendance. It would be harder on them as they have to adjust with the time difference and work at inconvenient hours

People may argue that mandatory attendance encourages students to interact and engage with their peers more. This may be true in smaller class sizes or labs, because of the close knit environment that it offers, which allows students to familiarize themselves with each other and benefit from participating in group discussions. In larger classes, it is unreasonable to expect students to participate in every lecture. 

Instead of expecting mandatory attendance from students, professors should understand the concerns of students and must be willing to facilitate their learning in other ways. Since a lot of students are adapting to learning at their own times, asynchronous lectures would benefit them the most. Professors can still ensure participation by giving mini-assignments or offering more office hours to encourage students to ask lecture related questions.

People have had different views and experiences with online learning. Mandatory attendance forces students to participate instead of understanding how they learn best. Students should have the choice of attending a class or not because, at the end of the day, they are responsible for their own learning.

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