Many parts of the country are currently in the middle of crippling cold and winter weather. Residents of Atlanta were stranded on the roadways and slept in local business. Many children also found themselves unable to get home and thus had to spend the night in their schools.
Today, these areas are having "snow days" allowing the kids to stay home. However, unlike years past where this meant a day off from work, some schools are using the cloud and mobile devices to help students keep learning even when the school is closed.
A recent article from Ohio Valley news source The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register, profiled the creation of so called "cyber days." At Bishop Donahue High School, students are provided with an iPad, have assignments online and communicate and through email and other messaging services. Since this is already used for daily learning, school officials have taken to step to have students learn-from-home on snow days instead of having the day off.
Teachers email assignments or upload them to the mobile applications in the morning and students have until the end of the day to submit the completed projects. The educators are also available through email to answer questions that could come up.
According to Vince Schmidt, superintendent of Catholic schools, Bishop Donahue has already had six school cancellations this year because of the extreme weather. Aside from helping make up these missed days, the belief is that system could also help keep students on track if they are not able to attend class for a variety of reasons.
"This program allows kids to access school work wherever they are," Schmidt said. "It's a benefit if a child is sick or hospitalized or if they are on vacation, they still have access to school. It's a real benefit. You'll never replace a teacher in a classroom, but this is an awful good way to still have education continue on days that would have been lost."
There is another facet to the use of this technology, and it is the benefits for the future of learning. Many higher learning facilities use online classes, some even go as far having entire programs in a virtual realm. By helping students learn how this kind of education works and what to expect, they will gain the tools needed to successful migrate to the systems that will be used by colleges and universities.
While it may seem like students would be completely against the idea of losing a snow day, the opposite is actually true. WHDH, an NBC affiliate in Boston, profiled Coyle Cassidy Memorial High School in Taunton, MA, which has deployed a similar kind of solution.
"I like to work because we get to go over things. It's easier, when we come back we're not behind," Hanna Laghetto a 10th grader, told the news source.
This is something that more schools could start to get on board with, but it can be a challenge , similar to the ones faced by any company that relies on technology to facilitate remote work. With the help of an IT consulting firm that specializes in the latest technologies and offers on-call IT support, any business can easily take steps into the future.