Online, off campus : E-learning poses benefits, challenges to snow days

Waking up to frozen roads and negative temperatures might lead to the expectation of a 2 hour delay and maybe a snow day. At the beginning of the year, the school corporation decides on potential make-up days to build into our calendar. In the event of a snow day the school has to make up for the day lost, but there could be a solution to staying home and not making up the day. E-learning days are an alternative way to continue working on regular school work from home in the event of a school delay or cancellation. This is a positive to the e-learning days; besides, students who would prefer to stay home.

“Anytime we get out of our routine and have to make adjustments, there are additional challenges. For an e-learning day to be practical, we would have to be able to stay within our established classroom routines, but while utilizing different instructional strategies. For example, if a teacher intended to test on a Friday and we had a snow day on a Tuesday I would hope that the snow day wouldn’t impact that test still occurring on Friday. If we have to bump the test back due to students missing a day of instruction, then we really didn’t accomplish anything by having an e-learning day,” Principal Chip Pettit said. “We need to weigh how much preparation it would take our teachers to really do this well versus the benefit from just rescheduling the day.”

Some teachers, such as biology teacher Mike Depta, think there are many positives to implementing e-learning days. They say it could help to keep their courses on track for the year.

“I think that e-learning days would have a very positive impact on classes, if we have a snow day. If you do not have to make up snow days and everyone has a device or chromebook we can still modify our lessons and deliver a quality education plan,” Depta said.

Crown Point is considered a one-to-one school, implying that each student carries a device that they are using to access their course work. Even with the advanced technology available at each students’ fingertips, there are still other factors that would affect whether or not e-learning days would be possible.

“I think we are going to need to spend some time as a faculty training teachers on strategies needed to implement an e-learning day. We would not want students to feel as if they have missed a day of instruction from what was previously planned,” Pettit said. “While the lesson is bound to be different because teachers and students aren’t face-to-face, we don’t want to put students in a situation where they’re having to do something different then what they might have already anticipated in each of their courses.”

Being able to assign the same work students were expected to do in class for e-days might not be realistic, and teachers fear that students might not complete it. With built in make-up days, there is no need to worry about the lack of effort students may put in.

“Teachers are used to snow days and cancellations so lesson plans can be shifted, there is always a plan B,” Depta said.

The corporation works as a whole and decisions are made collectively. One school cannot attend school while the others stay home.

“We’re a K-12 district. This isn’t just a high school decision. We have to be conscious as to whether or not this is good for the middle and elementary schools.

Even if the high school could execute an e-learning day, does that mean that the middle and elementary schools can also,” Pettit said.
Sophomore Emma Beckman looks at e-learning days as more than just a day off of school. Unable to think of negatives, Beckman sees this potential change as useful and positive.

“I think that CPHS should start using e-learning days because if we had to miss a day of school for weather or other circumstances, it would be easier for students and teachers to still be on track with the coursework. Both students and teachers would not have to rush through anything to try and make up for lost time,” Beckman said.

While there are positives to conducting an e-learning day, Pettit has found from other schools that operating an e-day has had some setbacks.

“Most of the schools we have observed that are utilizing e-learning days, have difficulty keeping instruction in sequence (as if students were in the building). We do not want to give students an alternative assignment. We would want the progression to continue in their class without disruption,” Pettit said.

While Crown Point is not yet ready to organize e-days, they continue to search for the best option for our school. Until then, snow days will continue to be made up on certified days.

“I think someday we may be able to implement e-learning days. However, I don’t know that we’re there yet, and I don’t know that we’re ready to commit the time and the resources necessary to figuring out how to execute an e-learning day well. I believe that an e-learning day is more likely than a ‘digital day for weather related issues,’” Pettit said. “The problem with scheduling a digital day when we have a school closing is that teachers and students don’t have any time to plan for instruction. Again, we would not want an alternative assignment to be issued, but for students to continue on their current units of instruction. If an alternative assignment or emergency ‘sub plans’ are given, we may as well make the day up.”

Emma Frank
Emma Frank is a Sophomore and going into her second year of journalism at Crown Point High School and her first year on Inklings. Emma enjoys creating things for others to enjoy, she is on the varsity dance team and involved in multiple clubs. Emma cannot wait to produce quality content for her peers and community. Emma plans to attend college and study business.

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