Yes, the blissful snow days are upon us. yet it's still early in the winter season. The end of the school year and beginning of summer break is moving further and further away. It's that crucial time of the year were students are a little more engaged because the cold and snow has them indoors yet way to hyper for most educators liking.
Well, rest assure there is a fix to these days off due to extreme weather, e-learning days. E-learning days are days where students learn online when there is inclement weather, ideal for a 1:1 device program where students take the devices home. Indiana is the first state to adopt such a practice and has had great success with it. They do not just use them for inclement weather, they include professional development days, parent conferences, widespread illness as e-learning day opportunities.
Teachers would need support in planning for such a day, as it's not simply assigning work to do via a learning management system. I know many thought it was just that simple. E-learning requires a different type of preparation for the educator and the student. According to Indiana board of education, the following criteria must be met before considering adopting e-learning days:
Internet Access - Our school corporation can demonstrate access to digital learning for students and teachers away from our buildings.
Instructor Access - Teachers will be directly reachable from students and parents to facilitate and support instruction.
Platform Experience - All of our teachers and students have access to, and experience using, online platforms and digital resources for learning.
Learning Targets - All of our students will be informed of their learning targets for the day by 9:00 a.m.
Work Continuity - Student work will cover content that would have been addressed if school were in session in a traditional setting.
Accommodation Support - All students who have accommodations for instruction will be provided with or have access to those accommodations.
Offline Support - For students with disabilities who do not use an online platform for learning or for whom an online platform is not appropriate, teachers will provide parents/caregivers with appropriate educational materials and learning activities for student use.
Individual Needs - For limited English proficient students, teachers will provide parents/caregivers appropriate educational materials and learning activities for student use per the Individual Learning Plan.
Work Measurement - Students will demonstrate time on task and/or equivalent learning growth for the time.
E-learning days have been piloted in Illinois by three schools, East Leyden High, West Chicago, and Gurnee. Gurnee had their first e-learning day in February in 2018. Gurnee school district #56 is the third district participating in the pilot. According to the Chicago Tribune The three-year pilot program, approved by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2015, was launched in the wake of the polar vortex that plunged Chicago into a deep freeze during the winters of 2013 and 2014 and forced schools to cancel several days of instruction. To qualify for this pilot districts had to provide a detail description on how the following would done through their e-learning program:
So with all that said, we just have sit tight and wait for the legislature for e-learning day for Illinois as the pilot will end so and the state is review the data collected from all three districts to see if this program should be rolled out statewide. Fingers crossed.
Source: Grants Office WGNTV Chicago Tribune Indiana DOE