Virtual learning supplements snow days with continuous education


photo by Manal Salim

Manal Salim

photo by Manal Salim
Photo by Manal Salim
Once the red font appears across the banner on the Columbia Public Schools website, students instantly anticipate a day of relaxation, sledding and perhaps some hot chocolate. With the announcement of a snow day, both students and teachers take a break from learning for however long the cancellation lasts.
In the recent week-long stretch of snow days issued by the CPS district, the cessation of learning surely caused a delay of instruction for teachers. If school had been in session, teachers could have been giving lessons or students could have been completing necessary homework.
However, with the increased technology available today, the same instruction should have been taking place even on snow days.
During the course of a snow day break, teachers should have created a virtual school setting for students at home. With access to sites like Angel and Blackboard, teachers have the ability to upload classwork such as PowerPoint lessons or worksheets for students to take notes on and complete.
AP students already have access to iPads and would have had easy access to these assignments. In this manner, though the instruction may not be as efficient as that of a classroom setting, some learning would still be taking place, rather than none at all.
In addition, for some students, it is necessary for learning to take place, especially in situations where there are no classes for a week at a time. For students enrolled in AP courses, the test date is set, and it is crucial to get as much learning in as possible before assessment on the AP topic.
When AP teachers lose a week’s-worth of lessons, there is an increased possibility that students will not receive as much of the information they could have learned, which would have all been necessary and useful for the AP test at the end of the year. If an increased number of teachers took advantage of virtual learning for their AP classes, then students could continue to obtain and learn the information necessary for the course.
But regardless of if the student is enrolled in an AP class, all students would benefit from a continuous refresher of the information from each of their classes. The disruption that snow days cause could last from a day to perhaps an entire week, and during this break students are vulnerable to forget information they learned from the last time they attended class. Teachers may end up using yet another day of school once students return to review information already learned. Therefore, with virtual instruction on sites like Angel, it is to the students’ advantage to have the notes and worksheets as a review and means of keeping the knowledge fresh in mind.
Though learning may not be what most students plan to do during their snow days off, the online assignments will allow students to review and learn new information, maintaining a continuity in education, which definitely pays off in the long run for students whether they may be enrolled in AP, honors or regular courses. With just a few clicks, virtual learning allows students to have the ability to stay on top of their education, while schools remain closed due to hazardous road conditions and sub-zero temperatures.
By Manal Salim
What do you think? Should we use the time as the snow is falling to fill our time with something more than Netflix?