WEST CHICAGO – West Chicago Community High School in District 94 has been selected by the Illinois State Board of Education as one of three school districts to participate in a three-year, e-Learning Day pilot program. It kicked off this week for the start of the second semester.
After several years of preparation, including infrastructure improvements and teacher training, Community High School District 94 began the 2015-16 school year by issuing a Chromebook electronic device to every student at West Chicago Community High School. The goal of the initiative is to create more engaging learning opportunities for students, and to provide 24/7 access to materials, assignments and resources to extend learning opportunities beyond the school day, the news release stated.
E-Learning days are designed to avoid interruptions in instruction that occur when school cannot be held because of severe weather conditions. The days also may be used when a school must be closed because of “an act or acts of God, or as occasioned by conditions beyond the control of the school district which pose a hazardous threat to the health and safety of pupils,” the release stated.
School districts participating in the program are not required to use e-Learning days nor do they have to exhaust all of their emergency days before using an e-Learning Day. Any day approved as an e-Learning Day may be counted as a day of attendance and would not need to be made up at the end of the school year.
WCCHS is beginning to plan for the implementation of an e-Learning Day. The district would call for one only if sufficient notice could be given to students and staff to be sure Chromebooks are taken home and Internet hot spots are checked out for those with limited Internet access. In an emergency situation with little time for planning, the district would designate an emergency day, for example a snow day, and not use an e-Learning Day.
On an e-Learning Day, students would be required to log into their Chromebook, and attendance will be taken. All instruction, assignments and teacher/student dialogue will be delivered online through the Chromebook via Google Docs, Google Chat and district email. Teachers will be online to assist students with the delivery and completion of assignments. It will be a fluid learning experience; students will not be required to be logged on
during the entire school day, but will be required to complete assignments prior to the next school attendance day.
“As an author of the e-Learning Day legislation, I am excited to have been chosen for the pilot,” Doug Domeracki, superintendent of Community High School District 94, said in the release. “The expectation of enhanced use of technology serves to expand the capacity of all stakeholders involved in an e-Learning experience. The expanded use of technology resources provides opportunities for our staff and students to explore avenues in education that have previously not been available; in essence this is a pioneering experience for our students and staff, allowing them the flexibility to be the architects of their own teaching and learning experiences.”