Digital learning could aid Stevens Point schools in 2019
By Taylor J. Hale
STEVENS POINT — The Stevens Point School District Special School Board meeting on Tuesday night saw talks of a possible E-Learning online education program being rolled out for the 2019 spring semester for secondary school students.
The supplementary digital learning platform would help accommodate weather-related cancellations, allowing students to work from home on severe weather days. The project is still in its formative stages, with no official decided release date, but officials showed overwhelming support for the progressive approach to handling school cancellations.
“This was a unique year, and it caused us to start thinking about the kids being at home that many days,” said District Director of Secondary Education Connie Negaard in an interview with the Gazette. “And most importantly the interrupted instructions. Every single snow day could be a learning opportunity.”
District secondary school students are already fully equipped with internet accessible devices and home internet, provided by Stevens Point schools. The new implication of E-Learning programs is the area’s next step towards a modernized classroom.
“The district now provides home internet access, so there should not be a student that doesn’t have access to the internet,” said District Director of Technology Brian Casey. “If they don’t have it, we will provide a device to allow them to do their school work.”
Casey noted that some students in rural areas might have trouble accessing internet services, but it would be a small percentage. Officials also realized that some classes like art and physical education might transfer poorly to a digital medium, but feel staff can find solutions and creative ways to engage students during the online learning process.
The online “classrooms,” hosted through the popular learning management system, Schoology, are not meant to replace face-to-face class, but supplement future missed school days. Officials ‘state that around 30 to 40 percent of district staff already utilize the digital learning platform.
“Logistically, there is nothing stopping us,” Casey said. “What we need is more discussions to take place.”
Adopting the online program would allow for more meaningful and engaging course material for students during harsh weather, rather than merely adding minutes on to school days. Board members see the value in the digital platform and feel it will also provide students with a chance to develop computer skills.
Entire class sessions could take place through live streaming video in the digital environment. The program could offer teachers a way to stay connected with their students regardless of the weather. Though the project is still in its infancy, school staff is eager to see it implemented.
“I personally feel it’s very doable for next year,” Casey explained. “Having this capability would put us in a great position not to have to cannibalize professional development days.”
Officials did not carry any motions on the discussion.
Contact Taylor J. Hale at [email protected] with Portage County news and information.