Making Indiana eLearning Days Work for You
Making Indiana eLearning Days Work for You
As more and more schools up their student-device ratio to 1:1, the possibilities for eLearning opportunities have expanded. In Indiana, this idea of virtual options for learning first manifested itself in the form of the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) Flex Program, launched in 2011, followed by the Virtual Option for Inclement Weather, which kicked off in 2014. Then, beginning in the 2017–18 school year, the IDOE combined these efforts into what is known today as the IDOE eLearning Day Program.
So, what constitutes an eLearning day?
School corporations in Indiana can take advantage of this initiative during snow or inclement weather, professional development, parent conferences, widespread illness, and flooding to continue learning outside of a traditional school environment.
How can you make the most of eLearning days?
In Indiana, there is an application to participate the first year your school corporation will be utilizing eLearning days. From there, you’ll find a clear list of nine criteria that must be met to successfully deliver eLearning opportunities for all students. As you consider these requirements, make sure that you have a digital partner in place that’s up to the challenge.
- Internet Access: Our school corporation can demonstrate access to digital learning for students and teachers away from our buildings.
Ensuring that all students have access to the Internet is tough. One thing that can make that challenge a little easier to overcome is when you can trust your online provider to support students on any device of their choosing. Whether students have access to desktop computers in the public library, a parent’s laptop or tablet at home, or even just a mobile device while they’re on the go, look for a partner that can accommodate your students’ device needs with a 100% mobile-optimized curriculum.
- Instructor Access: Teachers will be directly reachable from students and parents to facilitate and support instruction.
Your digital program provider should help facilitate immediate communication via such features as in-program messaging for students and immediate notifications and data access for teachers. When an online tool can flag where students are struggling immediately (especially when those students aren’t right in front of you raising their hands) and bring that information to your attention in a meaningful way that allows you to take action, you know it’s a winner.
- Platform Experience: All of our teachers and students have access to, and experience using, online platforms and digital resources for learning.
Troubleshooting technology issues is even tougher when students aren’t in the building. An effective digital provider tackles this problem in multiple ways. For educators, a dedicated support team should always be one chat, email, or phone call away. For students, intuitive navigation and trusted high-quality technology should be something you can depend on. And, for everyone involved, programs that are truly built by educators, for educators—those that incorporate regular educator feedback and insights to improve—are the ones you can count on year in and year out.
- Learning Targets: All of our students will be informed of their learning targets for the day by 9:00 a.m.
Learning targets can look a little different for every student, and flexibility from your digital provider can be paramount in accounting for your students’ individual needs. Whether you choose to require that a specific set of activities is completed or want to set learning goals for every student, look for a program that gives you options. Digital providers can support this requirement with visible pacing recommendations for students and editable challenges that teachers can set up for a single student or an entire class.
- Work Continuity: Student work will cover content that would have been addressed if school were in session in a traditional setting.
Who says you have to change your plan just because a snow day decided to strike? When technology is integrated into your day-to-day instruction, students should be able to access material that represents their next step in learning—whether that’s to get one step closer to a course credit or master an additional state standard in your district’s scope and sequence. Programs that are oriented around a natural progression of learning ensure that students never miss a beat or have to ask, “What do I do next?”
- Accommodation Support: All students who have accommodations for instruction will be provided with or have access to those accommodations.
Accommodation support is not just something you want to have in place for an eLearning day. Your digital partner should be able to provide features and functionality to support learners’ specific needs in a digital environment each and every day. This includes offering tools such as text-to-speech, highlighters, dictionaries, and calculators, to name a few. Additionally, you should be able to customize curriculum by adjusting a course, editing placement in an adaptive learning path, or setting precise mastery goals so that your students can effectively attain successful outcomes.
- Offline Support: For students with disabilities who do not use an online platform for learning or for whom an online platform is not appropriate, teachers will provide parents/caregivers with appropriate educational materials and learning activities for student use.
Naturally, your online provider is going to be best at delivering top-notch online experiences, but when students require something different, teachers shouldn’t find themselves at a dead end. Identify a digital partner who allows for easy access to printable lessons, activities, and even assessments that meet the same level of rigor as the digital counterparts.
- Individual Needs: For limited English proficient students, teachers will provide parents/caregivers appropriate educational materials and learning activities for student use per the Individual Learning Plan.
Look for a provider who is making intentional choices to have its programs validated by top ELL-recognized organizations in the country. WIDA™, the creator of the Access for ELLS 2.0® assessment that all Indiana ELLs are required to take, also offers a PRIME V2 Correlation™ process to validate third-party vendors’ abilities to provide solutions that meet ELL students’ listening, speaking, reading, and writing needs. Is your digital partner committed to putting its programs to the test?
- Work Measurement: Students will demonstrate time on task and/or equivalent learning growth for the time.
How will you know if an eLearning day has been an effective use of time for students? First, ensure that your online program is outcome-focused—meaning that it intentionally supports your goals of graduation success, standards mastery, skills growth, or any number of other key factors. Then, confirm that you have visibility into time-on-task so that you can get a sense of where students are working and spending their time relative to the outcomes they’re able to achieve. Reporting at this level will quickly allow you to confirm that time is being spent wisely or otherwise intervene if students seem to be spinning their wheels.
As you’re weighing your options and identifying the right digital partner to support eLearning days, consider Edmentum, already the number-one course provider for Indiana students, according to IDOE. Interested in learning more about our digital curriculum and high-quality assessments? Discover what we can offer for your school or district.