4 Ways 'eLearning Days’ Could Benefit Public Schools
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4 Reasons Why 'eLearning Days' Offer Schools Great Benefits

The Associated Press recently reported that 3 Illinois school districts have begun participating in the state’s "eLearning" program, allowing students to follow assigned digital lesson plans on days when they would otherwise have had to miss school.

Unlike other school districts around the country thinking over 'eLearning days' and whether these could be ideal for them, Illinois is enjoying the benefits brought on by this new learning initiative. Here are 4 of those benefits:

1. No More Make-Up School Days

One of the biggest benefits of eLearning days would be the reduction of make-up schooldays. This is one of the reasons that eLearning days were adopted by Illinois school districts, and indeed one of the reasons that Hamilton Community School students in Indiana can look forward to eLearning days in next year’s academic calendar, according to KPC News.

"Due to excessive snowfall and difficult road conditions earlier this year, Hamilton schools already have 8 missed school days, including one day due to lack of electricity", writes KPC correspondent Emeline Rodenas. "4 makeup days had been put on the calendar. 3 additional days have now been added to the end of the year".

"We are already making up 8 days so far, and we are just now in February. We still have fog and ice to deal with", Superintendent Nicole Singer told the Hamilton school board.

With more eLearning days, students could make up work on snow days and reduce the number of days that they have to make up in the summer.

2. Precursor For Remote Work

Another benefit of eLearning days to students comes in the form of preparation for the real world. More and more companies are allowing, and even expecting employees to work from home, adding autonomy to work that any students from traditional background settings still haven’t explored.

As developer Natah Gervais writes in his article, "The Zen of Working in Comfy Slippers":

"There is no right or wrong way to work from home … the most important aspect of working from home is to find your routine, your rhythm. Experiment and try new things. Got a slow day? Take a walk! Things starting to feel repetitive? Go work in a cafe for a few hours. I've never felt more empowered as a developer, and it's all about owning the responsibility of working from home, even if it's in my comfy slippers!"

Students need to realize that they will likely be required to work remotely in the future workplace—what better place for them to start than in school?

3. Reinforcing Digital Literacy And STEM/STEAM

One of the things that far too few of our students are getting practice within the school is digital literacy. Sure, they’re all digital natives at this point, but this doesn’t mean that they’re up to date on how to be safe with data or that they know how to utilize their phones for more than social media or the latest consumer apps.

These new eLearning days present an educational opportunity for purveyors of the STEM education movement. As Jennifer L.M. Gunn with Concordia University-Portland writes, "the STEM education movement advocates moving away from segmented content areas, emphasizing technology to connect the subjects, and relating teaching to the outside world. STEM impresses 21st-century skills acquisition so that students gain proficiency in collaboration, questioning, problem-solving, and critical thinking".

By allowing kids to scour the internet for answers to questions, or to use the web to search for new ideas, these children will both be exploring and reinforcing digital literacy, but they could also draw connections between subjects in the way that the STEM movement teaches.

4. Practice For The Hybrid Classroom

As time goes on, it will become increasingly important to provide students with technological tools in the classroom. Sure, AI, VR, AR, and all other sorts of acronyms stick out as potential catalysts to pedagogy—but what about plain ‘ol access to the internet?

"Technological advancements aren’t equally available to all students", writes Bree Brouwer with Asset Panda. "Education today is subject to a digital divide that makes equal access to the internet impossible. Students without internet access miss out on a huge educational opportunity, which in turn impacts the future of the country. Smarter citizens will create better solutions and increase the quality of life for everyone involved".

Therein lies a stumbling block for eLearning days—what to do for children who don’t have internet access at home? Hopefully, the future of 5G coverage will solve problems just like that and will make the possibility and dream of hybrid classroom models an actual reality.

From the looks of it, the concept of eLearning days is just ramping up. As technology advances, there’s no doubt that schools across the country will be seeing more remote and hybrid-technology curriculum. This is becoming the norm in the world of work, and since schools prepare students for that world, it would follow that the same practices are soon adopted. Thus, it is our job to analyze and build upon these programs so that the youth of our nation get everything they need and deserve—and so they really do reap the benefits outlined above.

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