Could Online Learning Put an End to Snow Days?

Could Online Learning Put an End to Snow Days?

For those of us who live in the Northeast — or more recently, the South — it might still be a sensitive subject, especially with several feet of snow still littering the sidewalks. But with all that snow comes much chagrin on the part of administrators: class and school cancellations.


There’s a growing debate among educators about the role that online learning could play in mitigating — or altogether avoiding — school cancelations due to snow, especially when it snows, and snows, and snows. We’ve already seen an increasing number of workplaces who instruct employees to work from home when it snows. Why can’t this also work for higher education?

If only it were that simple. According to a recent online discussion on The New York Times, there are pros and cons to each side.

Follow the Infrastructure
If your school or college already runs an online platform, you may be in prime position to consider a “snow day plan” for professors and teachers to upload lessons and lesson plans so as not to miss a full class, especially if that class only meets once a week. But if all of your courses are on-ground and you have no semblance of an online learning system, this might prove impossible.

Availability Concerns
Moving classes online suggests that all students either own or have access to a computer with dependable high-speed Internet access, especially if students will be expected to watch webinars or live-streamed lessons. Before you decide moving online is the best option, consider who may be left out.

Let Kids — or Adults — Be Kids
There’s also something to be said for just getting a break every now and then. Sure, students on a snow day might be inclined to hit the slopes or stay in with hot cocoa and movies, but there’s also a good chance they’re using the day to catch up on homework, reading, projects or studying, too. Remember that many hours of learning occurs outside of the classroom, so requiring extra work or lessons could be too much.

At Northeastern University, when snow days are necessary, the school takes a hybrid approach to school cancellations: On-campus classes are canceled, while online classes continue.

Do you think more schools and colleges should skip snow days in favor of online instruction? Do you think the unexpected “snow day” is an important part of student life? Share your thoughts. 


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One comment

  1. Perhaps a compromised approach is ideal for a snow day. I think online learning systems can be really successful if set up and executed properly.

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