Snow days for the new millenium: Cyber-days?

I’ve certainly got a different perspective on snow days than I had in my youth. What was a rare, greatly appreciated treat, allowing a late wake-up, play in the snow, and just generally relaxing times has turned into something less enjoyed.  Plans for an adult’s day get spontaneously adjusted, kids need to be looked after or provided for, and the havoc it plays with their lesson plan and test schedule only gets worse with each such occurrence.  For me and a growing number of people, however, it’s starting to be less of an impact to the adult work schedule. Telework has changed the effects of snowstorms in our lives.

Not every job lends itself to telework. But for those that do, a computer in the house and a broadband connection means that parents can go on working whether they are at the office or not. The systems that permit telework are my industry and with very few exceptions, I can do my work from anywhere. As I was working from home one of the many snow days this winter, I paused from my design work and glanced up to see my daughter poking away at her iPad. I wondered why she couldn’t use the same tech to attend class, given that so much of it is lecture. Turns out, others have already started to address this.

Catholic schools in Arkansas have been using a pilot program that, if endorsed by its accrediting body, will dramatically change the way inclement weather days are handled in the future.

“Cyber days” combine online educational tools with teacher planning and creativity to help students make the most of days where inclement weather forces cancellation of the regular school day.

In short, pretty much the same kind of approach that I use to do my work from home would apply to the students. They could establish a VPN connection to the school’s infrastructure and do assignments, exercises, even take certain quizzes and tests online. With the right kind of gear even homework could be “turned in.” I’m not saying it wouldn’t present challenged, but it’s most certainly in the realm of technical possibility, even feasibility. As a professional in this field, I’d love to start a conversation about this kind of thing.