When there’s heavy snow in the weather forecast, the students and faculty of St. Maria Goretti School in Westfield, Indiana know exactly what they’re going to do.
Head home, bundle up for a big storm, and get ready for school the next day. Students may stay home, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be missing out on their studies. It just means instead of a snow day, they’ll be having an eLearning Day.
Private schools in Indiana and elsewhere can apply for a waiver through the state that allows them to hold eLearning Days instead of taking snow days. That way, they don’t have to add an extra day to the academic calendar at the end of the year. Principal Vince Barnes prefers not to take eLearning Days if possible since the school values face-to-face learning, but eLearning Days are a fantastic alternative to interrupting the momentum of learning with a snow day.
There are plenty of uses for eLearning Days outside of snow days, though. A lot of schools will use eLearning Days for in-service or professional development for teachers, who appreciate it because there’s one less day they have to commute to the campus.
St. Maria Goretti doesn’t keep any eLearning Day curriculum “on standby” so to speak, but different subjects and departments have online components that can be easy to incorporate on short notice. Most teachers will assign some short reading and let students respond, or if weather is involved, students may go outside and take measurements for their science classes.
Barnes acknowledges that there are drawbacks, though. “I know how important a teacher’s impact is on learning,” he said. “To be highly effective, there needs to be that interactive element of the student-teacher relationship.” And eLearning Days are not a universal solution. In the case of emergencies like the recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma, no one should be worrying about school during a crisis.
eLearning Days are excellent tools for teachers and administrators, though. They allow schools to cut down on disruptions through the year and keep learning safe for students during potentially-dangerous times.
On giving advice for people interested in starting an eLearning program, Barnes recommends: “Use it as a mode of communication. The Principal should establish guidelines for students, teachers and parents as to what is expected. Lessons should be interactive and flexible enough to allow for students who may not have access or are sharing time on a device at home.”
Barnes’ favorite platform for enabling eLearning? Why, Edmodo of course! “Edmodo makes it easy in a safe and controlled environment. Our teachers are using it for a lot of different activities.”
Does your school have any remote learning days or programs? Are you looking to adopt a program like eLearning Days or share information about one? Check out the Remote Class Edmodo Topic for more information!