Snow days. Students undeniably love them, but they may soon be a thing of the past thanks to online learning. As winter storms and frigid temperatures force schools to close for extended periods and students are under more pressure to meet learning goals in certain timeframes, school administrators can look to their investment in personalized learning technology to ensure that learning continues even as the snowdrifts grow ever higher.
Rather than missing out on instruction days because of inclement weather, many students who use online and blended learning tools can connect to the classroom from home. Matt Gallatin, Director of Virtual Programs at Northeastern Local Schools, Ohio, recently said about his e-learning initiative, “We’ve successfully set up 3,600 students and 250 teachers into Fuel Education...All of our elementary and middle school level kids use it on a daily basis.” Some students use FuelEd in a fully online program. High school students use FuelEd for scheduling flexibility, for credit recovery, or to take electives that would not otherwise be available to them.
According to Gallatin, the technology is being used in different ways. “We have some students who are fully virtual kids – they stay at home or come to school but do all of their curriculum work through our partnership programs. Some students are using it on an individual basis, maybe due to scheduling, credit recovery, or extended electives that they can’t get in their high school.” When necessary, the district can schedule “E-Days” and take advantage of a connected, flexible student base. This flexibility came in handy during days of inclement weather last year.
Jim Hanschuch, Principal at Lacey Township High School, New Jersey, commented on how online learning helped students during Superstorm Sandy; “School was cancelled for five days, with some schools closing for two weeks straight. Students who had electricity and internet access could continue their education at home with online learning when they were enrolled in such classes. Other students were at a loss.”
Using education technologies that are widely available in many schools, there’s little reason that students should miss out on school days because of bad weather. By adopting online learning platforms that are accessible to administrators, teachers, and students, and that enable teachers to customize content for classes or for groups, school mandates can be met without relying on complex workarounds or extending the school year into mid-Summer.