Students, staff brace for E-learning

March 19, 2019

It’s 5:30 a.m. and the announcement has been made: school is closed. The roads are ice-covered and there’s even more snow to come. Not to mention the risk of frostbite that comes with the frigid wind chills.

While students typically celebrate a day off school, tweets like “can we do e-learning now please” and “e-learning so we don’t have to go to school in July” have been flooding NACS’s twitter.

With snow days piling up as each week passes, more and more students, teachers, and parents are wondering what’s in the forecast for e-learning.

“It does not happen very often that we lose four days in a row… We were going along through winter just fine and so to lose a chunk of time like that I think elevated the conversation,” said Principal Mr. Brandon Bitting.

The challenge is that I want to make sure it’s still the level of quality we expect from our students and staff. I don’t want it to be wasted fluff”

— Principal Brandon Bitting

The four cancellations back in January, as well as the few that have happened since then, have created new challenges in terms of graduation.

“We thought we had plenty of room built-in between the end of the school year and graduation,” said Bitting. “Now looking at that, we’re down to just a couple of days. I’m sure it did contribute to moving the pace up in terms of timing [of e-learning].”

As of now, the district does not have a date set for when e-learning will be implemented as a snow-day alternative. Until that date is announced, schools will continue preparing both students and staff for the change.

“Every building in the district needs to make sure that the teachers are in a place where we can successfully implement an e-learning day that’s a benefit to the students,” said Bitting.

Most schools in the district, including Carroll, have planned “practice e-learning days” where students will still be in the building but will experience what an e-learning session might look like. While a practice day will help clear up confusion students might have, there are other obstacles standing in the way before an e-learning day can successfully be implemented.

“Focusing on just the 9-12 version of this, I’m thinking about what does a good e-learning session look like in 3-D art for example?” said Bitting. “The challenge is that I want to make sure it’s still the level of quality we expect from our students and staff. I don’t want it to be wasted fluff…”

In today’s education system, it is expected that with each school day canceled, it will be made up later on in the year. But one can’t help but wonder how much students truly gain in a day–let alone half a day spent on the computer. What difference does one day make?

“The only thing I think it’s good for is that we don’t have to add anything to the end of the year. It’s hard to actually learn something new from it,” said Junior Isabel Peterson.

For hands-on courses like gym, art, and music, e-learning will pose even more of a challenge for teachers to create beneficial lessons because of how the interactive, hands-on aspect of learning will be missing.

“Visual art… will always be in a different position when it comes to reorganizing lessons for e-learning because of the projects that are mainly done at school,” said CHS art teacher Mrs. Bauer. “I hope to use e-learning experiences to enrich the assignments already happening in the course.”

Regardless of how effective e-learning is, the reality is that school must go on. Days must be made up. One common concern on the minds of all students is just how long e-learning will take each day. While there is no absolute time range, students can rest easy knowing it won’t last all day.

“Even in a normal school day, from 8:30 to 3:30, are you spending every waking moment of that school day engaged in a lesson? No, so therefore I don’t think it’s necessarily minute per minute, equal time,” said Bitting.

Although waking up at 5:30 a.m. to the news that the majority of your day will be spent in front of a computer isn’t ideal, some students are looking on the bright side.

“Would you rather do it at your house or at school?” said Junior Mia Kissinger. “Either way you gotta do it. I’d rather do it in my bed.”

It seems the current forecast for e-learning is a 100 percent chance of it’s arrival to the district, with timing to be determined. Until then, teachers and administrators will be busy preparing for the new change and crossing their fingers another cancellation isn’t on the radar.

“My hope is that when we do get to the point where we utilize e-learning, it’s a positive experience for everybody involved,” said Bitting. “Knowing e-learning is out there and that a lot of people utilize it, and eventually, we will too, I just don’t want that day to be a wasted day.”

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