Will eLearning Make ‘Snow Days’ a Thing of the Past?

Will eLearning Make ‘Snow Days’ a Thing of the Past?
December 18, 2013

elearning-snow-daysAs anyone who grew up in a cold-weather state can tell you, snow definitely has its share of pros and cons.

For example – sledding? Hours of fun! Shoveling… not so much. 

One byproduct of wintery weather that most kids would rate the highest, however, is that wonderful miracle of nature known as the Snow Day. As a kid growing up in New England, I can tell you there was nothing better than waking up to fresh powder on the ground and an unexpected day off from school.

Of course, the truth is, Snow Days aren’t really days off; students and faculty have to make them up at the end of the year. That means especially brutal winters can (and often do) push school semesters deeper into the summer than anyone would prefer.

That’s why at least one high school has begun experimenting with eLearning technology to put an end to Snow Days once and for all. Earlier this month, Gibault High School in Waterloo, Illinois staged a “Snow Day Simulation” where no one showed up to class in person. Instead, students simply logged online and attended the school day from home.

And it worked.

Using a learning management system (LMS) called My Big Campus, students were able to sign in for homeroom, interact with teachers and peers, and review course materials – including both live and on-demand video content. The day went smoothly (the school’s principal described it as a “great success [with] very few problems”), and was a hit with students as well.

Gibault senior Blake Braun told the local Fox News affiliate: “I was thinking, I don’t get any snow days this year. I don’t get to stay at home.  But I do get to stay at home.  I get to wake up later than normal, and because there`s no set time limit I can go sledding. I can go out to eat with my friends if I want to.”

Essentially, the students realized many of the same benefits that eLearning has for corporate and higher ed learners, namely convenience and flexibility. Everyone was still held accountable via the LMS, but students learning from home naturally had more leeway to work at their own pace – and in some cases, that pace was accelerated.

“I woke up, opened my laptop in bed, signed in, checked in with my homeroom teacher and I was there,” explained senior Ellie Wessel. “I actually finished all my homework by 12.”

While the school has yet to utilize eLearning for an actual Snow Day, the success of the simulation left everyone involved confident for the future. With the right system in place, teachers will just need to figure out ways to provide engaging learning content for students to review on-demand.

While Snow Days may soon become a thing of the past, eLearning will only continue to grow in the future. And though the unexpected day off is always nice, I’d bet most students would trade all the Snow Days in the world for a longer summer vacation.

For the full story from Gibault High School, check out this short video, and click here to learn how Brainshark presentations can help increase the effectiveness of your own training and eLearning strategies.  

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