Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Keep Column and why the new No-Show Policy?

Hi Everyone-

I want to talk just a little bit about our new student no-show policy.  This policy is in direct response to two significant issues surrounding distance learning:  student authentication and student presence.

I am sure you have had someone ask you how you know who your students are.  Is the student who signs up for your course the student who completes the work?  Many of you have seen websites advertising services around taking exams and writing papers for students.   We address this concern in several ways.  We ask students to log into our learning management system. That is very straight-forward and also simple to get around by giving someone else access to the user name and password.  Beginning this fall we will also ask students to respond to a set of identity questions similar to the questions used by online banking.  (This service will be provided by Acxiom, a data company many private concerns also use.)  We are also beginning to track data such as IP addresses.  If a student logs on consistently from one or two computers we wouldn't expect them to take all exams from a third computer.

Our other concern is student presence.  Sometimes the correct student has signed up for a course, but has no intention of completing the course.  We are addressing that through our own participation requirements - the introductory discussion and the first assessment. Student participation and presence matters.  We all want to teach students who are actively engaged in the course and with the course content.  Classes are better when the majority of student in the class are actively engaged in the class.

CCCOnline has been a target of a couple of major financial aid fraud schemes.  Online learning is certainly also a target of concerns around student authenticity outside of the financial aid schemes.  We clearly need to continue to address both of these issues.  On the other hand, we want to make sure we don't introduce inappropriate barriers to our actual students.  That gets me to the "Keep" column of our current no-show policy.

Many of you will have students who have emailed or otherwise interacted with you, but who have not completed either the introductory discussion or the first assessment.  You might feel that it would be inappropriate to drop these students at this point in the course.  The keep column allows you to keep them in the class at your discretion.  We are planning on gathering course completion statistics on the students who are kept at faculty discretion.  We'll pass that information back to you, giving you another advising tool for students.    For example, if on average only 10% of the students kept on the basis of the keep column pass their courses you can pass that information on to your students and perhaps it will be what they need to hear to enable them to either drop the course or change their priorities so they can pass the course.

Please keep in mind also, that not all colleges drop students based on no-show reports, so only some of the students you no-show will actually disappear from your course.  It does send a message to students however and it may help prevent fraud and to limit classes to those who are actively engaged in the courses.

I appreciate everyone's assistance with this endeavor.  We hope to have some data on its success or failure by this time next year. 



Lisa Cheney-Steen
Co-Exec. Director, CCCOnline

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