On the Beat in Bluffton

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Could snowbound students attend a virtual classroom?

Bluffton-Harrison Superintendent Wayne Barker said he’s learned to never say “never.”
But for now, at least, he said he doesn’t think students will use their iPads to attend class at home when administrators cancel school.

“I’m not sure that we will ever advocate for that because of the benefit of our students being with our teachers ... but it is a fairly premature discussion at this point,” he said.

Southern Wells Junior-Senior High School Principal Chad Yencer said he has not formally pursued or researched a home-based learning model, but he said the school might some day, after giving its high school students Chromebooks this school year.

“As we move more of our curriculum to a digital realm, that will become a real possibility,” Yencer said. “One of the reasons we went to one-to-one was to give access to real-time, anytime learning.”

The Indiana Department of Education, however, is investigating the possibility. It gave a grant each to four school districts — Attica Consolidated, Maconaquah, Porter Township and MSD Wabash County — in 2013 to implement “flexible scheduling” programs.

DOE spokesman Daniel Altman did not return an e-mail request asking for grant amounts and program details before deadline, but Maconaquah posted from preliminary feedback after its first "eLearning" day:
  • 592 responses for MHS and 436 responses for MMS.
  • A majority of students in grades 9-12 & 6-8 responded to the survey questions.
  • When asked “How much of the eLearning assignments did you complete,” over three-quarters of all high school students responding completed 75% to 100% of their assignments. Fifty-six percent of our middle school students completed all of their assigned work.
  • When asked “How much time did you work on your eLearning assignments,” the majority of MHS responders indicated having worked between three and four hours.   A majority of MMS students spent between two and four hours on their assigned work.
  • A majority of MMS students did not have “issues” with their assigned work during their eLearning Day.
  • When asked “Where did you complete your eLearning work,” 489 out of 594 student responders from MHS stated they completed their work at home.
  • Sixty-five percent of those MHS students responding said that they “felt like they learned/understood the material presented during the eLearning day.”  Sixty-four percent of our MMS students “learned the material” presented during eLearning Day.  
  • Fifty-six percent of those MHS students responding said that they “contacted a teacher via phone/email/echalk/discussion board, etc. during eLearning day.”  Seventy-five percent of MMS students contacted a teacher during their eLearning Day.
  • Sixty-nine percent of those MHS students responding said that they “felt their teachers prepared them for eLearning day.”  
Click here for the source, and learn more in the Monday, Jan. 27, News-Banner.

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