Cherish this wave of snow that has consumed much of the country, because it could be the last time you get to miss school because of weather. Just as technology has made it easier to work from home, it's also making it easier to learn from home. Unfortunately for students, this means the snow day is in danger of becoming extinct thanks to e-learning programs.
Mother Nature Network reports that virtual learning programs are gaining traction in school districts across the country as severe winter weather has piled on cancellations.
Virtual learning seems like a simple solution, and it's been used in colleges for years to broadcast lectures via webcam. But in grade school and high school, it presents a host of problems. There's the issue of home access to a computer and internet, first of all. (To remedy this, one Indiana school loans out laptops to students who don't have one when the weather looks like it might lead to a cancellation the next day.)
Then there's the issue of ditching, which could make schools reticent to adopt e-learning. It's much easier to skip class when you just need to turn on your laptop and log in before heading outside to sled ... or before heading back to your warm bed.
"The first day we had about 100% of the kids involved in e-learning," Ralph Walker, superintendent of Indiana's Delphi school district, told NPR about a recent streak of snow days. "Well, then, after the fourth day, we were down to about 55% of the children."
So before you memorialize your next snow day as the last you'll ever experience, take solace in the fact that there are still plenty of kinks to work out in the virtual learning system before it becomes a regular practice.
And think of it this way: The looming death of the snow day means you won't have that extra half-week of make-up days at the end of the year cutting into summer break.