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Virtual Learning Day, No Snow Required

February 26, 2016

Earlier this winter, we took a look at the ways that technology can help students stay on track when school is closed due to weather. Thanks to online learning platforms and digital communication, it’s possible to spend your snow days learning – and still have time to play outside. But how would teachers and students feel about an online learning day without the wintry weather? That’s the question that Park Ridge High School in New Jersey wanted to answer when they held their first Virtual Learning Day.

Park Ridge Principal Troy Lederman was looking for a way of getting students ready for the future, and came up with the idea of a Virtual Learning Day. “Most colleges say that kids should be taking at least one online course,” Lederman says, “and there’s a lot of careers where people can work from home.” So one Monday this month, they put the plan into action: over 90 percent of Park Ridge students stayed in their pajamas and took their classes from home.

Students and teachers agree that the experiment was a big success. Virtual “attendance” in classes hit 98 percent - even better than a normal school day. And teachers were ready to rise to the challenge, too. Most of them reported that the online learning day had encouraged them to learn a new tech skill, and the majority used the digital platform to teach new material.

What’s next for Park Ridge? For upcoming Virtual Days, they’re hoping to remove the schedule altogether, letting students check all their assignments in the morning and work at their own pace. True to its spirit of experimentation and innovation, the school is pushing the boundaries of what digital tools can do – and setting an example for the potential of technology to transform the classroom.