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If Parents Can Work From Home, Why Can't Students? A Snow Day Doesn't Have To Be A "No" Day

Source: ASIDE 2015

We have another snow day today. The relentless snow this winter has forced many schools into crisis mode. Teachers are panicking about missed curriculum and make-up days. But with today’s access to mobile technology, shouldn’t there be a middle ground between all or nothing learning? Genuine remote learning should be a regular practice, not just a prediction. Even amid record-breaking blizzards, a snow day shouldn't have to be a “no” day.

Students frequently get sick and miss school. Consider, too, how many times you've seen a kid in your classroom who really shouldn’t be there. He has his head down, or has bags under his eyes, or has his mind clearly elsewhere. How many times have you noticed a student who truly needs a break? She's been burning the candle at both ends, or has been bearing the weight of a bully, or has been negotiating a tough family situation.

Source: ASIDE 2015
A kid sometimes needs a personal day. It used to be that a student’s absence meant a day of missed learning. Today, this not only seems strange, it seems unforgivable.

For parents, “working from home” is a common occurrence. Many companies have no problem with their employees telecommuting at a distance, staying in contact via phone, email, and instant message. With all of the dynamic digital tools available to schools today, why can’t students work from home? Many teachers post all of their assignments online anyway.

Source: ASIDE 2015

Video conferencing and social media and collaborative documents all offer easy avenues to engage a class of home-bound learners. Many teachers use these resources daily inside of the classroom. Why can’t these tools also be tapped to coordinate a corps of kids, either in real-time or at the students’ own paces? 

Backchanneling, for example, has emerged as a valuable way to invite feedback and questions during an in-class lesson. If we can turn backchannels into forechannels, then we can transform these supplemental tools into primary vehicles for distance education.

Tools for remote learning:


Sources: Company Logos

  • TodaysMeet - The leading real-time channel, TodaysMeet creates discussion groups for instant message communication.
  • Twitter - The ultimate social media tool for education, Twitter mimics the classroom environment with chats, text, links, images, and videos.
  • Croak.it - Both teachers and students can create a 30-second audio file with a url that can be embedded in a backchannel, website, or tweet.
  • Remind - This free way for teachers to text students protects everyone's privacy and instantly reaches kids on their phones.
  • Cel.ly - Cel.ly creates individual social networks via its texting feature that can be moderated directly from a smartphone.

    Sources: Company Logos

    • Verso - Flipped learning with Verso can include videos, images, or links in self-contained classes with rich commenting features.
    • eduCanon - This site collects videos from across the web and allows teachers to add flipped learning elements.
    • EDpuzzle - Teachers can crop videos and add questions and explanations to fit any age group.
    • Zaption - Zaption makes videos interactive by adding assessments.
    • audioBoom - Teachers can record podcasts to pass lessons on to students, and kids can capture their own answers, readings, or projects.

    Sources: Company Logos

    • Nearpod - The teacher guides the presentation, and students on their own devices see the slides progress as they interact from anywhere with polls and assessments.
    • Issuu - Intended to publish webzines, Issuu turns any .pdf into a scrolling web document for students to read and save at their leisure.
    • iBooks Author - The ability to publish customized content on iBooks is becoming easier and easier.
    • Wikispaces - Still one of the most flexible platforms for a class website, Wikispaces accepts any media and any embedded content.

    Sources: Company Logos

    • Skype - Teachers can broadcast themselves in full video and audio to reach students in their homes.
    • Facetime - As more and more schools opt for iPads and Apple TVs, Facetime provides an easy way to videoconference.
    • Google+ Hangouts - Multiple participants from any device can come together in a live-streaming video chat.

    Sources: Company Logos

    • Google Docs - Google Drive keeps getting better and better, and the real-time collaboration is still the industry standard for essays, presentations, and spreadsheets.
    • Padlet - Padlet is an infinitely customizable public space with customized urls to post text, links, images, videos, and student projects.
    • Dropbox - The larger storage capacity of Dropbox makes it ideal for file-sharing.
    • Email - When in doubt, simple email can allow students and teachers to swap instructions, questions, and assignments.

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