April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

E-learning faces delays

By By Paul [email protected]

The possibility of allowing students to occasionally conduct their school day from home will have to wait until at least next school year.

J.P. Mayer, principal of Hauser Jr./Sr. High School, said Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. officials had too much to consider to decide quickly whether e-Learning days are a good fit for this school district. E-Learning days, used successfully in other districts, are part of a computer-dependent policy that gives students a way to obtain and submit work assignments electronically when classes are not in session.

Mayer said the district will continue to work toward eventual implementation. But he stopped short of saying implementation was definite. Not only would the district have to apply to the state, but the state would have to approve.

"It might start next year; we'll just have to see," Mayer said.

E-Learning days could be used for a variety of reasons in the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp.

Alison Wold, director of e-Learning for the district, has said some of those days could be for personal development, when teachers need to take care of business but don't want students to lose valuable class time.

More rarely, they could be used for inclement weather days.

But Wold has said using e-Learning for inclement weather days could prove troublesome for students who don't have easy access to internet at home and might find it difficult or even dangerous to travel to a library under deadline to connect and turn in their assignments. Furthermore, inclement weather days often are accompanied by power outages, which would make internet connectivity problematic.

Also, some may question whether e-Learning for snow days is needed at all. Wold said the school district allows for seven inclement weather days each school year, a threshold that hasn't been met since the district's implementation of a balanced calendar several years ago. Because e-Learning days would be used for inclement weather days only in excess of the allocated amount, the e-Learning days might rarely come into play.

Wold has indicated that non-emergency e-Learning days are more practical. For example, Zionsville Community Schools includes e-Learning days in its calendar for teacher training. When the e-Learning days are scheduled in advance, students can retrieve and complete assignments on their own and gain skills in the process.

"We do realize that each of our districts are unique and will have their own set of challenges with the virtual option," according to the Indiana Department of Education. "However, as evidenced the last two years, each district, their families and their communities will have their own strategies for meeting those challenges."[[In-content Ad]]