No More Snow Days  

March 19, 2015
On this February 2nd Groundhog Day, there is one thing that educators in central Nebraska have in common - bad weather. Students and teachers including ESU 10 staff either have late starts or no school at all. And because I used a week to vacation in South Carolina last week, I am “stuck, so to speak” in Charleston, South Carolina.

With all of this weather does that mean that education must come to a stop? I would suggest that for most of us, including a large number of students, today’s technology connected to the Internet could bring into question about ever having a snow day.

ESU staff and I am sure many teachers are connected to their schools today through email, to their students and col- leagues through their LMS or Google doc, and are getting educational ideas by following colleagues through Twitter and/or Facebook.

So how might we as ESU 10 Staff assist schools in increasing connectivity and more importantly awareness of technology’s potential.

Connectivity: New E-Rate fund opportunities will soon be available that will allow schools to upgrade network infrastructure improving wireless connectivity. The ESU 10 Network Information Systems (NIS) staff will be assisting our schools to plan for network upgrades, submit for E-Rate funding, and when requested install and provide support for those networks.
Through the USDA Distance Learning grant award, teachers and students will have increased connectivity using desk-top conferencing from a computer or smart device. Now the classroom teacher can make virtual field trip connections without special costly equipment to such far away places such as Ellis Island, as close as the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney, and many more locations.
 
ESU staff, teachers, and even students might also use this desktop conferencing tool for educational meetings, class opportunities, and yes even connect to the virtual live classrooms that might eliminate a snow day or allow a connection for health reasons.

Reaching potential through awareness: BlendEd learning is one of three focus areas for ESUs and Nebraska Department of Education. Through the many trainings that are provided to our schools by the Teaching and Learning team, blending technology into the classroom will be a high priority.

Realizing the potential: A wise coach once responded to a mother’s question “why isn’t my son playing more, he has so much potential!” Ms, the coach replied, “potential means ain’t done nothing yet.” That becomes our challenge as we work to improve connectivity options and awareness in using these tools so that potential might be realized.

-by John Stritt, Distance Education