As I sit here at home for a second day of no school I find myself pondering the age old conundrum of the snow day. A snow day to an educator and student is kind of like a double edge sword, on the one side you get a day off from school but on the other side you have to make up the time either in February (for those of us who have a mid-winter break) or in June (or whenever your end of the school year is). But what if there was a way to make up snow days without having to take away days from our breaks? Personally I would die for something like this as my first semester tech as my students lose those instructional days (and those in my 2nd semester tech class have added days they don't necessarily need).
I have spoken before on the issue of blogging in the context of professional development but what if we used blogging combined with educational portals (Microsoft SharePoint, Blackboard, etc.) to deliver instruction on snow days? Now I know the critics will bring up the issue of the technology gap and those who don't have access to a computer and it is a valid issue but I don't think we should let that keep us from pondering the question. I say this because the number of people who have or are gaining access to the internet is growing every day. I use the term have access because one doesn't need to have a computer at home to access the internet, there are several places where one can access (friend's or neighbor's house, family member, school, public library, family members work, etc.) Also, we have student who are absent from our classes at some point in time and we hold them accountable for the work they have missed. For those that can't/won't do the makeup work then we hold them accountable when school is back in session according to the schools work make up policy. So I don't see a lack of internet access as an excuse to not use and grow educational technology to be used outside of school.
I am talking about expanding on the idea of the online classroom/school that is being utilized already in some capacity. What we should be doing is on the automated messages we send out to parents, as part of the radio/TV broadcast, posting to the web, etc. we should include a message telling students and parents to check the website and/or portal for the daily lesson. Lessons could range from journaling their adventures, writing papers, participating in discussions, reviewing for tests, doing math problems, etc. Also with webcam technology teachers can record videos of lectures (or podcasts of them) for students to take notes on. The possibilities are endless and should be explored as an alternative way of making up snow days at the end of the year.
I would like to hear your thoughts? Is there anyone out there currently doing this? If so what success have you had? Do you think this is a viable alternative to making up work at the end of the year?