Tech team proposed innovative plan to teach in snowy conditions


Photo by Emma Urban

Junior Alyssa Baggenstoss does her homework right after school. Baggenstoss has an advantage over other students that don’t have their own electronic devices at home.

Emma Urban, Photographer

This school year there were only two snow days allotted and the district has exceeded the limit. The district technology team is exploring an idea that if each student had reliable technology at home that an online learning day could be a solution in the case of a snow day. Online learning days would count as a full school day, when often it would be a snow day. If each student at the high school had their own reliable technology which a number of students are not able to afford, this could be a possible solution.

If the school is able to come up with enough money to help students in need, then online learning days could be a possible solution. Schools would not have to worry about meeting the required amount of school days if they are able to put this plan in place.

“I would rather have a snow day, because personally I like having a personal connection with my teachers. It is a lot easier asking for help rather than being confused and trying to figure it out at home,” sophomore Zoe Jensen said.

Legislators are encouraging districts to create online learning plans as part of the Polar Vortex legislation. The governor is now expected to sign any day now, finalizing online learning days.

“Our team has begun the initial work to develop an online learning plan. Once we develop it we will bring the report to the school board later this spring,” Director Of Technology John Perry said.

Students and teachers have different opinions on the at home learning days. There are both, advantages and disadvantages to the proposal. Some think that it will be a good option to have instead of having to make up days, but others worry that it will be less beneficial towards the students because they wouldn’t be getting face to face contact with their teachers.

“For some students this could be beneficial, but for others, definitely not. Personally I want to be able to collaborate with my teachers and peers so I can understand what we are learning better,” Jensen said.

Although online learning days are very beneficial, the students will not be learning as much as they would in a typical school day. It is an opportunity to allow students to still keep up on their work, but they will not have one on one time with their teachers like most days.

“Online learning days don’t necessarily require students to be online. Instead, the idea behind online learning is to create flexibility for teachers to plan lessons that keep students learning even when school is canceled for things like snow days,” Perry said.

For some students this could be beneficial, but for others, definitely not. Personally I want to be able to collaborate with my teachers and peers so I can understand what we are learning better.”

— Zoe Jensen

Having technology at home is a huge advantage for students. It is a major issue for students who can not afford to have their own computer at home. Students who do not have computers struggle completing all of their homework, because they can not do much outside of school that is not online.

“I think that it would almost be impossible not to have technology at home especially because so many of my classes have online assignments. When I have to do research or look up questions on my homework it would be even more challenging not knowing if your work was correct because you don’t have a computer to check you work,” junior Grace Anderson said.

A con of having an online learning day is trusting the students enough that they will complete their assigned work. When students are not in their typical school setting they may feel less motivated and push off doing their work.

“I definitely would not feel motivated, I would feel like there’s nothing to do besides school and I would procrastinate. The learning environment would be so drastically different than what I’m used to. I think the atmosphere really changes and I’m used to coming home and getting away from school so it would be really hard to shift from that,” Jensen said.

If the school was able to provide everyone that couldn’t afford a computer with one, there may be an issue reaching out to the students in need. It is very difficult for some students to come forward and ask for something they can not afford to buy.

“Personally I would probably feel embarrassed to ask that of the school because it is such a big liability. Having a computer that is someone else doesn’t feel as personal and I feel like you need to be comfortable with your resources to do your best work,” Anderson said.

Depending on the amount of students that are in need of a computer, there would have to be some sort of a payment that is given to the school in return. Computers are very expensive and even under the students circumstances, can be a very hard thing to just give out for free.

“I think that it would depend on the type of computer and the circumstances of the students. The best solution for both the students and the school would be a small fee and a down payment that gets returned to the students after the school year if everything is still in good condition,” Anderson said.

There are many pros to having online learning days instead of snow days. Online learning days are a great way to stay on track of the amount of required school days.  The main struggle of this is figuring out which students would need a computer and if the students will complete their assigned work. Having online learning days is an opportunity to not have to worry about meeting the required amount of school days and would be a good concept to consider.