Leisha Chopra and Mason Day
This school year, the Oshkosh Area School District (OASD) plans to use a Digital Learning Day (DLD) for students on March 3, the state-wide ACT day for juniors. Non-junior students will be expected to participate in online classroom activities—one for each class—via Chromebooks at home on this day.
DLDs were created in 2012 by the Alliance for Excellent Education (a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization) with hopes of enhancing students’ learning and the role of the teacher by incorporating technology.
The trial run held on March 3 will consist of students logging on to Canvas where they can find lesson plans that their teachers posted for them to complete. According to some staff, these lessons will range from students having to answer a quick prompt to watching a video explaining current topics viewed in their classes.
Students will not be expected to be on their Chromebooks for the entire day or even for normal school hours. School administrators asked teachers to keep it to 15 to 20 minutes.
For March 3, students may come to school to work on their digital assignments.
Instructional Technology Coach Debra Norton said, “Sometimes students may not have internet at home or can’t travel from home and go somewhere with public wifi, so all due dates for any digital learning day will be set to three days after the digital learning day.”
Next year, the OASD may use DLDs to replace snow days and unexpected school cancellations. In order to meet the 1,137 instructional school hours required by Wisconsin state law, students will use their Chromebooks to complete online assignments posted by teachers on canvas. No matter what the class is, all teachers must post an assignment for students to complete. The hope with this new learning platform is to avoid adding minutes and days in the school calendar which have been implemented in the years past.
However, nothing is set in stone for next year.
Norton said, “We are not sure if this will take place next year. We want to see how the trial run on March 3 goes. The decision will be made based off of feedback from parents, students, and teachers.”
Students feel mixed about the possibility that DLDs will replace snow days next year.
Junior Jalen Keago said, “I feel like [DLDs] would be better than making a school day up because I would rather be at home and make it up rather than coming back on a nice day in the summer and making it up.”
Many students agree with Keago such as senior Alexa Nieves,
“I don’t know. I would rather do it at home than make it up in the summer,” Nieves said.
On the other hand, many students dislike the idea of missing out on a random day off.
Senior Grace Salzer’s said, “I don’t know because I feel like a lot of kids wouldn’t do it. I would rather come to school and get it over with.”
Some of the North High staff also had mixed feelings about DLDs.
First-year English teacher Ali McCarty said, “I love it. I think this is the direction schools are going to. Having less time in school and more time at home or at work is a good idea.”
English and Drama teacher Jennifer Henslin also felt excited about trying something new.
“[DLDs are] a great option for alternative ways to learn, and I’m excited to try it and see how it turns out,” Henselin said.
Social Studies teacher Steve Danza has some reservations about the practicality of DLDs.
“This is a good way for us to get our minutes in. However, it’s putting a lot of responsibility on kids to have wifi and get work done. It’s a work progress,” said Danza.
The district will have several data points to look at with the DLDs, as they plan to use them at least one more time this year.
According to school officials, teachers will also have digital lesson plans for the ACT Aspire, which only freshmen and sophomore students take.