In the final week of a class, our final project included an essay, presentation, and discussion board responses to the presentations. This is an online class so we depend on the availability of discussions to complete some work. There were two due dates for the presentation: one for Wednesday where you post your slides, and one for Friday where you should post at least 5 responses to classmates.

Today, I logged in to complete my responses but the discussion board was closed and I was not able to access it. I sent an email to the professor, but they have not been timely on their responses recently (I wrote a separate email last week but have not heard back). The professor does not have a phone number listed on the syllabus either. Could the professor still take off points for the discussion even though it was out of a students control to complete the assignment? I’m a little worried my grade might drop a letter if the points are taken off.

  • 11
    Something messed up. Why conclude it was the professor? Until you work out why this happened I think your question is moot. Or at least ill-stated.
    – Buffy
    May 12, 2022 at 13:13
  • 1
    @Buffy Strvwberry said they were supposed to post a discussion board comment before tomorrow, but the board was closed today. That sounds like a not-very-helpful frame challenge, as only the professor can set when discussion boards are open. May 12, 2022 at 14:58
  • 4
    Seems like it depends on precisely what your institution's regulations on grades are, and what your opportunities for appealing a grade under those regulations might be. However, I would consider that most professors are not evil people trying to find sneaky ways to punish their students and take off points.
    – Bryan Krause
    May 12, 2022 at 15:34
  • If this is a large part of the grade, it may make a difference in how it is treated. For a pass or fail situation dependent on a resource that was unavailable accommodations can sometimes be made on the departmental level should you fail the course. Next time around you should make a screenshot and send it both to the professor and the IT department (with the IT department as a carbon copy). This isn't going above their head but it still provides a chain of evidence for accountability purposes. After the fact it may take a few emails to determine if classmates had similar issues for evidence. May 16, 2022 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


Allowed? Refer to the policies of your course on how grades are determined. Nobody outside your institution can tell you what is permitted.

Would I? No, provided the student could provide evidence that they were unable to post to the board during the time it should be open. Did you - work through any troubleshooting steps provided for the boards? Contact IT support? Screen shot the error and email (before the due date and time) your professor with clear evidence?

If other students were able to post, and you provided no evidence, I would grade you as not completed. It is amazing how often students "cannot access" an online assessment item, and are simultaneously struck by great (undocumented) misfortunes preventing them from doing the above steps.

I understand you are worried, but expecting a response in <24 hours is unrealistic. Your email is just one very tiny part of your professor's job, and quite likely isn't an urgent priority. Some professors are unreasonably slow to respond - but students can also have unrealistic, and unfair, expectations that do not acknowledge the genuine workloads their professors have. Your email might be just one in 100 they received that day (or hour!).

Give your professor a chance to respond. If you think your grade has been unfairly impacted, then act on that - not the fear that it might be.

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