- Associated Press - Sunday, October 11, 2015

TIPTON, Ind. (AP) - A growing number of Indiana schools are introducing their students to online learning technologies intended to keep youngsters engaged even if inclement winter weather maroons them at home.

Tipton Community School Corp. is the latest school district to ensure students don’t miss crucial instructional time ahead of next spring’s ISTEP standardized exam testing period. The district that’s about 40 miles north of Indianapolis has been holding “eLearning” days this fall to familiarize students and staff with the technology-dependent learning format before winter arrives.

The last two Indiana winters have been harsh, and many districts extended their school years to make up for days lost to ice, snow or frigid temperatures.

Online technology allows students to access their assignments virtually, complete them at their own pace and communicate with their teachers electronically. The district hopes to call eLearning days to replace actual classroom time if bad weather keeps kids at home this winter, the Kokomo Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1ZlflK3).

“One of the things we talk about is anytime, anywhere learning,” said Tipton schools technology director Brian Witherow.



Students in Patti Herron’s fifth7/8grade class at Tipton Elementary School spent a recent morning reading in small groups and occasionally asking her questions, using their iPads to communicate as part of their training.

Herron’s students have virtual access to her on each eLearning day, meaning they can ask her questions through a chat program and she can send out reminders about assignments needing to be completed.

Fifth-grader Drew Stillson said he enjoys using his iPad for online learning.

“It’s kind of easier typing it instead of writing it,” he said. “It’s a lot more fun. You get to do a lot of apps instead of doing worksheets or books.”

Tipton High School Principal Joe Rushton said the increased focus on eLearning will better prepare students for college, where they will have to take more responsibility for managing their time and completing assignments on their own.

“The way we’re looking at traditional school has to change with the times,” he said.

Similar to Tipton’s approach to eLearning this year, Maconaquah School Corp. also schedules eLearning days throughout the year and uses them in case of inclement. The district has been a leader in the state.

Last winter, Northwestern School Corp. and Western School Corp. decided to call eLearning days instead of completely canceling school when bad weather hit. Taylor Community School Corp. and Eastern Howard School Corp. also hold eLearning days on Saturdays to make up for previous snow days.

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Information from: Kokomo Tribune, https://www.ktonline.com

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