Online learning an alternative for snow days — but caution is necessary
- The rise of online learning and 1:1 device programs in K-12 has made it possible for learning to continue even when there are snow days, local disasters, flu outbreaks or teacher professional development days, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12.
- When Maconaquah School Corp. Bunker Hill, IN, had its academic calendar disrupted by 14 snow days, it made a push in 2014 to pilot a flexible scheduling program via a grant from the Indiana Department of Education.
- The resulting program saw students use their school-issued Chromebooks or tablets and Google's G-Suite applications to virtually attend class, and while a software filter issue initially blocked students from accessing any websites during the first day, the following "eLearning Days" have run so smoothly that the model is now used for both scheduled and unscheduled breaks.
The flexibility of "eLearning Days" has made them enticing not just as an alternative when snow or other natural incidents keep students from school, but also when students are injured or ill. In that way, they ultimately mitigate the need to make up lost learning time on several fronts.
But before rushing to put them in place, administrators must ensure that all students have equitable home access to the internet, even if they do have a school-issued device. Additionally, the broad use of online learning for all students in a K-12 setting should also likely be limited to days when it's absolutely necessary, like snow days or teacher professional development days, as the model isn't conducive to the way all students learn and may not be the best natural fit for some. And even those who do perform well in an online environment may still need some educator support.
- EdTech: Focus on K-12 Online Learning Keeps Schools Open All of the Time
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