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[Administrator Tips] 6 Elements of Effective E-Learning Day Plans

[Administrator Tips] 6 Elements of Effective E-Learning Day Plans

Whether it’s due to extreme weather or other things out of our control, like unexpected building or transportation issues, occasional canceled school days are inevitable. However, given the amount of content students and educators are expected to cover during the school year, missed days can quickly cut into student learning and state instructional hour requirements. Staying on pace with curriculum guides is critical to ensuring that students gain the knowledge and skills they need to meet state standards and achieve success in subsequent grades. So, what can educators do to fix this problem?

Online learning options are providing new alternatives to keep students learning even when they’re not able to be in the classroom physically. And, more and more states are embracing these possibilities by allowing schools and districts to hold a certain number of approved “e-learning” or “digital learning” days throughout the year instead of having to simply cancel school days.

The intention of e-learning and digital learning days is to provide a similar instructional experience to what students receive in the classroom. Having a well-thought-out plan in place is key to ensuring that these days truly support seamless student learning (and most states with formalized programs require them!). To help you put together a high-quality e-learning day plan for next year, we’ve broken down six of the most important elements to consider.

  1. Survey students to understand at-home Internet connectivity, and make a plan for students without sufficient access

All students should receive a similar learning experience on e-learning days, regardless of their access to technology and the Internet. Think about ways to give students without consistent Internet access offline options that are on par in terms of subject matter, task difficulty, and interaction, and avoid expecting these students to make up any e-learning day work at a later time. Be sure to consider not only how to provide alternative printed or downloaded materials but also how to provide these students with access to their teacher throughout the e-learning day.  

  1. Make sure that students know how to access online assignments and activities

In order to be productive during e-learning days, students need to be comfortable with the logistics. Programs that are used should be ones that students are used to working on so that they can dive right in to e-learning day assignments when that day arrives. Send home student logins to all programs you expect students to use on an e-learning day, make sure that information has been communicated to parents as well, and encourage families to make that information easily accessible at home.

  1. Prioritize student-teacher communication

The most effective e-learning days offer parity to standard classroom days, not only in terms of rigor but also in quality of instruction and interaction. Just as these days aren’t intended to be days off or “catch-up” days for students, neither are they intended to be such for teachers. Teachers should be actively monitoring student progress and providing guidance throughout the e-learning day, and effective tools for communication between students and teachers need to be in place to support that process. Ideally, multiple communication channels—including video conferencing, phoning, and emailing—should be available, and students should be trained on how to use all of them. Class Facebook pages, websites, or other online social platforms can also be great tools to make e-learning days more interactive.

  1. Provide accessible digital instruction or alternatives for students with disabilities that meet the needs of each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)/504 plans

The goal in offering the option for e-learning days is to minimize disruptions to student learning, and this has to extend to all learners, including those with disabilities. Thought should be given to the devices and programs that students with IEPs or 504 plans are already comfortable with using in the classroom and ways in which they can be incorporated in e-learning day plans. It’s also important to consider what additional support these students will need in terms of access to and interaction with their instructors in order to have a productive learning experience.

  1. Clearly communicate details of your e-learning plan to students and parents at the beginning of the school year, and provide timely notification when you decide to use an e-learning day

Setting clear expectations is key to successful e-learning days. Make sure that students understand that e-learning days are not a day off and that they must complete all assigned work to stay caught up with their classes. Provide parents with guidelines on how they can support their student on e-learning days. Remember that arranging childcare will be a concern for some parents on these days, so it’s important to give as much prior notice as possible—two hours before the beginning of the school day is a good benchmark to aim for. Finally, keep in mind that student attendance still needs to be tracked for each class on e-learning days, and a process for monitoring student participation (whether leveraging online programs or carried out more manually by teachers) needs to be developed.

  1. Encourage teachers to have their own e-learning day plan

It’s just as important to focus on the logistics of e-learning days with teachers as it is with students. Encourage teachers to create their own e-learning day folders with standard procedures, login info, premade lesson plans, and other relevant notes so that they can be ready for an unexpected digital learning day on a moment’s notice.

Want to find out more about how Edmentum programs can support high-quality e-learning day plans? Check out these blog posts on leveraging Courseware, Exact Path, and Study Island to make sure that  learning doesn’t skip a beat when bad weather and other unexpected events keep students and teachers out of the classroom!

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