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

Flat Rock-Hawcreek consider designating e-Learning days

By By Paul [email protected]

Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. officials are looking into the possibility of allowing students to occasionally conduct their school day from home, perhaps as early as next school year.

Called e-Learning days, the computer-dependent policy would give students a way to obtain and submit work assignments electronically when classes are not in session, according to Alison Wold, director of e-Learning for the district.

She said some of those days could be planned for personal development, when teachers need to take care of other business but don't want students to lose valuable class time. More rarely, they could be used for impromptu, inclement weather days.

It all depends on whether Flat Rock-Hawcreek decides to apply to the state to allow e-Learning days - and whether the state decides to sign of on it, as it has for a number of other school districts.

The choice isn't as easy as it seems.

"In some ways, we'd be meeting our students where they already are," Wold said. "This generation of students has been raised on computers, and I think this would be the next logical step in a lot of ways."

Consider that most students in the district already have electronic tablets that are integrated into classroom learning.

But Wold said using e-Learning for snow days could prove troublesome for students who don't have easy access to internet at home and might find it difficult - 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 Wold said are the one thing a computer generally has to have for internet connectivity.

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 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.

The Zionsville Community Schools website states e-Learning days "provide students with the opportunity to learn skills in managing electronic learning, developing academic self sufficiency and independence, and provide middle school staffs with opportunities to collaborate to improve classroom teaching."

So, are e-Learning days right for Hope Elementary School and Hauser Jr./Sr. High School?

There is a lot to consider.

"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."

The application will begin in August for school systems that want to launch e-Learning days in the 2016-17 school year.[[In-content Ad]]