Have you heard of virtual school days?
Lately, some schools have been holding virtual school days. What are those? Exactly what they sound like. I looked to social media to find the answer. I watch social media closely and it's my job to share some of the hot topics on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other outlets that teachers, principals, students, and parents are contributing.
MindShift posted an interesting article about a new trend some schools are testing: virtual school days. Various schools asked students to attend a class or two virtually rather than going to school as usual. Instead of drifting from classroom to classroom, students visited discussion board after discussion board, completing their school day 100 percent online from either their home,the local coffee shop, or wherever they wanted. Schools have claimed the days are usually a success. You can read the article about virtual school days here.
There are many benefits to this latest trend. Schools argue that virtual school days prepare students for college and the work force, where there's a good chance they'll have to either take an online class or work from home. It also gives students more independence, teaching them about responsibility. Others mentioned that having a virtual day works as a great back-up that could eventually replace snow days or other cases where students and staff are unable to physically make it to the school building.
Students aren't the only ones that benefited from the experiment. While some teachers complained about holding a virtual school day, many of them reported pushing themselves when organizing their lesson plan for that day. They were forced to think somewhat differently and many of the teachers learned about a new technology tool in order to pull it off.
Yet not everyone is sold on the idea. There are some obvious drawbacks. So far, virtual school days were only held in affluent areas where most (or all) students had access to high-speed internet and plenty of devices with fast Internet connections. Low-income areas do not share the same luxury. There were also students who complained about their homes being unsuitable for work because they had pets or young siblings that would provide constant distraction. Some students with special needs also ran into problems.
Do you think virtual school days are a good idea? Could you see your classroom or your school doing something like this in the future? What lesson plans would you come up with and how would they differ from your normal plans? Do you think virtual school days would actually help students prepare for the real world? What do you think are some other benefits and drawbacks of the virtual school days idea?
Tori Pakizer is the Social Media Editor at SimpleK12.com. She writes regularly about the use of educational technology in K-12 classrooms, and specializes in how teachers use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media. You can follow Tori and SimpleK12 on Twitter @SimpleK12. If you have ideas for using social media in schools, please send your information or tip to firstname.lastname@example.org.