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Academic Policies

It is a violation of copyright law for a student to upload instructional materials to a third-party aggregator website, such as CourseHero or StudyBlue, without the instructor’s permission. Consult the University of Tennessee policies to learn more about the university’s policies around copyright and steps you can take to deter students from violating the Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources.

All virtual classroom sessions that include course content or student information are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Consult tips for maintaining student privacy from the Office of the University Registrar.

At UT, we are committed to maintaining academic integrity as we teach online and hybrid classes. Online privacy is a concern for many students and one we take seriously. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects personally identifiable information from students’ educational records from unauthorized disclosure. During the upcoming semester, FERPA compliance is still in effect.

Instructors may require students to record their activities during an online exam using the software, Proctorio. This act does not violate FERPA, nor does it infringe on a student’s privacy online. The instructor is the only individual with access to view the recording and the recording should not be shared with others.

FERPA compliance remains in effect when teaching online and hybrid courses. This is important when communicating to students or third parties via phone, email, or other online services, including recorded class sessions. You should always use email with the amount of caution appropriate to:

  • the level of sensitivity of the information being disclosed,
  • the likelihood of inadvertent disclosure to someone other than the intended recipient, and
  • the consequences of inadvertent disclosure to someone other than the intended recipient.

As a general rule, communications should contain the least amount of FERPA-protected information as possible. For example, the subject line of an email should not include FERPA-protected information. The email, voicemail message, or online session should not contain highly sensitive FERPA-protected details, such as a student’s social security number. In addition, files containing FERPA information should only be stored in UT-approved FERPA solutions, such as UT OneDrive and UTK Google Drive. For more information related to FERPA and privacy of student information, please go to

Contact hour requirements must be met in online synchronous and asynchronous courses. Per the University’s Registrar, a minimum of 700 minutes is required per credit hour. A 3-credit hour course requires 2,100 contact minutes (150 mins a week x 14 weeks).

For an online class, this means that students should be engaged with course content and participating in activities that lead to the achievement of the learning outcomes for a minimum 2.5 hours per week (for a 3-credit hour class). This may include watching lecture videos, participating in an online asynchronous discussion, meeting synchronously in Zoom to collaborate on a project or paper, or some other instructional activity as determined or led by the instructor.

Class attendance and eligibility policies, including those pertaining to Federal Financial Aid programs, apply to students enrolled in online courses. Attendance in an online course is verified by having the student engage in or complete an academically related activity. Below is a nonexclusive list of activities that may be considered academic attendance in an online class, including:

  • Submitting an assignment
  • Taking an online exam or quiz
  • Participating in an online course discussion or group activity about academic issues
  • Physically attending a class where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between the instructor and students (this would include required virtual class meetings in Zoom)
  • Limited Adjustment to the Attendance Policy (LAAP)

A student logging into the course site does not suffice for meeting attendance requirements and should never be used as a means for verifying attendance in an online or hybrid course. Instead, students should complete and submit an assignment, engage in an online discussion or virtual class meeting (on a course discussion board, in a Zoom session), or take a quiz or other form of assessment.