Background of eLearning in Illinois:
The Illinois State Board of Education established an eLearning pilot in 2015 for three schools with the purpose of recording the efficacy of eLearning during emergency/non-attendance days pursuant to state statute (105 ILCS 5/10-20.56). eLearning was to be used on no more than five school days per year and would count as attendance days without the need to add emergency days to the end of the school year, according to statute. It was expected that there was five clock hours of instruction or school work for each student, access to electronic communication, and appropriate learning opportunities for students with special needs. The requirement of the five clock hours of instruction was dropped before last year, which provided opportunities for school districts to pursue eLearning options for emergency day make-ups.
Background of eLearning in District 89:
Over the course of the past year based on the changes in legislation that dropped the five-hour instructional requirement, districts in Illinois had the opportunity to experiment with offsite learning days, called eLearning Days. The goal of eLearning Days is to engage students in learning when school may be closed due to extreme weather. Our school district joined many districts throughout the state last year who experimented with eLearning Days as one way to make up for lost traditional school days due to extremely cold winter weather. We held two eLearning Days during Spring Break last academic year that received positive responses from the parents and educators via a survey that was sent out after our Spring Break eLearning Days. The students had the option of completing hard copy assignments or digital assignments in all the subject areas. Educators were available via email or other communication means as needed for parents and students. Parents or guardians confirmed their children’s participation via their signature and educators collected the student work and reviewed the activities either hard copy or online.
We as a school district and community learned a lot through the process and received positive feedback. The survey showed that 87% of parent respondents stated that the quality of activities was just right, and 96% of parent respondents saying that the assigned learning activities were aligned with what is being taught at school. Also 95% of educators and 88% of parents preferred eLearning or a combination of both rather than adding days to the end of the year without eLearning Days.