by BEN RICHARDSON and SPENCER HOWE
WESTFIELD, Ind. (Nov. 15, 2018) - Westfield High School has officially caught onto the trend sweeping both the nation and the state: to push a one-to-one ratio of students to electronic devices. The result? All students now have access to digital learning material from the comfort of their couch, even on snow days. While the freezing rain on Nov. 15 wasn’t nearly as impressive as the “Ice-apocalypse” storm of 2011, students still had reason to sleep in and celebrate the relaxing day ahead of them.
According to the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE), “Access to devices spurs innovative ways to engage students and teachers outside of the traditional day and place through virtual options for learning.”
Some students, such as AP student Caroline Carlton (10), discovered that eLearning wasn’t necessarily as engaging as one would hope. Rather, the assignments were mini-activities having the sole purpose of fulfilling the state-required attendance.
“[WHS teachers] could probably improve eLearning days by giving better assignments,” Carlton said. “Maybe not longer assignments, but just assignments that didn’t seem like worksheets, just new content. Not busy work. Maybe an introduction to a new unit, or a little unit, rather than just stuff.”
Fellow student Linley Cassidy (10) expressed some missed perks of being on campus.
“I like being at school because I get to be around people I actually want to talk to, but of course the icy roads make it harder to get to your friends anyway,” Cassidy said.
Will Clifford (9), on the other hand, proposed taking advantage of his freed-up morning: he slept in and took a cross country run on his own time.
“I thought that it was a good learning opportunity while still not going to school,” Clifford said. “It was easier, but it was still pretty useful. I would’ve rather had an eLearning day. On a scale of one to five, with five being [the rigor of] normal school, I would probably rate eLearning at a three.”
Whether students spent the academic day productively or doing absolutely nothing, it seems apparent that Indiana’s criteria of “engaged learning” remains open to how the students choose to fulfill it. On top of that, the two-day grace period minimizes any stress over turning in assignments late, no matter the circumstance. Students also appreciate a modification to this year’s calendar where eLearning days protect the ever-sought after flex days.
“In the end, eLearning days are worth it for me just because if we make up a lost day, we don’t use those two flex days,” Cassidy said. “It’s just different.”
After considering the inevitable winter weather ahead, the general consensus sounds like “different” very well may be the best road for Westfield High School to take -- that is, a digital road free from Mother Nature’s obstacles.