CANON CITY — Snow days are still school days in Canon City, Colorado thanks to the district and community investment in high tech learning. This year, when snow forces the decision to keep kids at home for safety, school leaders can call for an e-learning day.
It is an element of a broader master plan in the school district. District leaders opted for hybrid four day school week to help attract and retain teachers. The schedule means fewer options for snow days. Brain storming for a snow day solution turned to the district’s investment in digital learning for middle and high school kids in the district. "There's not a college in the nation now that doesn’t use tech to impart instruction," said Canon City High School Principal, Bill Summers. It offers an option for e-learning days instead of canceling school for snow.
The high-tech investment is thanks to voters in Canon City approving mill levy dollars. Every kid with a tablet device, as well as, a way to access the internet at every home. "They can come to our media center at the school if they don't have Wi-Fi at home and check out a hot spot that provides that to them." The on-line access for everyone is a make brake for e-learning days.
Implementing the idea also required extensive discussion. The Canon City School Board and state education leaders had to okay policy decisions. "We had to consult with CDE (Colorado Department of Education).” said School Board President, Shad Johnson. “CDE is the one who instructed us exactly what had to be included in that policy and that's exactly how we wrote the policy.”
E-learning days have to be true learning, not just a snow day work around "Something students can get on board with , is meaningful work and not just seen as busy work to fulfill a requirement," said Summers.
Students get on-line at home and teachers are available for the same hours they are available during a normal school day. "Some teachers will set up some type of chat session for those e-leaning days,” said Instructional Technology Coordinator, Daniel Coppa, “Others are doing we conferences where if you have questions we can set up a web conference." Rather than walking from class to class students click into their course at home and on-line.
This is the first year for e-learning and so far, there has been two. With anything new, adjustments happen. Teachers and students are already coming up with creative ways to make this kind of learning better. “To make really cool interactive and engaging lessons on line,” said Coppa.