School: Snow days in the digital age should mean kids just learn at home, but there are barriers

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

With all of this snow falling in Iowa and record cold temperatures this year (-50 at one point), snow days are happening right and left. Having school some weeks was the exception.

As a professional who works everywhere and anywhere from the beach in Aruba, the Stamats headquarters in Cedar Rapids and airplanes among other places it actually takes some getting used to to work anywhere.

Communication is different between teams, too. When you aren’t seeing each other “looking like you are working” communication must happen. You have to communicate and produce basically for people to see you are productive.

Fun side story about some of the people who love the working in the office only mentality: “Everyone looks so busy.” Sure, but are they actually being productive? Anyway…

So with another snow day happening, I tweeted and Facebooked the following, and tagged my school district’s superintendent:

Yea, yea, yea – school is closed again. I support the decision but why are there no ways to teach remotely. We must teach our kids that place doesn’t always equal the only place you can work. That’s true in many professions and especially Knowledge Workers. (Source)

I get that some industries and professions can’t work everywhere, but marketers can. Laptops are easy enough to take with us and the iPhone is one valuable content creation tool.
We actually discussed that in a workshop in San Diego in 2019. We threw up some of our favorite tools and it was hard to find things you can’t do with your iPhone. It’s possible to:

But while technology has made our lives – especially for content marketing creators – easier in many regards there are certainly hurdles for implementation everywhere.

Shannon Bisgard, superintendent at the Linn-Mar School District, replied with the following:

Great question. Currently Iowa Code does not allow for E-Learning to be counted as school days. I am assuming this may be a topic of interest for the legislature after this winter. A lot of schools would be interested. I would be fully supportive.
That’s a shame and I certainly hope that e-learning in the right circumstances becomes an option.
I also posted the comment to Facebook and got some responses there, including from teachers.
Allison Borchers wrote:
We have the capability at the high school through a program called PowerSchool Learning. It is a newer program and so not every teacher is using it yet but for those who are it has been a lifesaver on these days off. I haven’t lost any instructional time, which is huge for my AP kiddos because their National Exam date doesn’t move regardless of how many days we have off. The biggest issue is student access to technology… not every kid has computer and/or internet access at home so it’s difficult to require this kind of work when kids are stuck at home.
That’s also something to remember for us working with iPhones and other latest technology all day long. Not everyone has access to technology OR the internet.
Sonu Munshi on Twitter shared with me the story of the teacher who did Facebook Lives during the snow storms. Innovative and nice to see. Though that also doesn’t work for students who don’t have access to technology.
While technology can make our lives easier and have us be more connected, it can also be a bit of a privilege to actually be able to afford the technology that allows us to be as connected as we are.
For now, I do hope the Iowa Legislature considers allowing e-learning when the weather is this bad.

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