It's official. I am now a full-fledged, fun-hating, joy-stealing grown up. This post angers my inner child, but the writing is so clearly on the wall here that I'd be foolish not to take the opportunity to say something obvious.
Snow days, or cold days that cause the cancellation of school (which we have experienced plenty of in Wisconsin this January), finally have reached an end-of-life status and will be retired from the childhood educational experience in the next few years.
With the flood of student take-home devices, a fairly robust set of tools for developing online curriculum, the omnipresence of connectivity, and the ease of synchronously connecting with a teacher via a web conferencing type experience, the inability to physically make it to school will no longer hamper the ability of teachers to conduct students through a planned learning experience.
While it will not look or feel exactly like "school as usual," the reality is that much of the infrastructure is in place, or is being put in place rapidly, to make school cancellations fodder for nostalgic "In my day" stories as I reminisce with my children. As in, "In my day, we would wake up extra early on the snowiest days of the year, rush to the television set, and wait for the name of our school to roll across the lower third of the morning news." Heck, even that sounds dated compared to the fifteen messages my family received this week when our three schools decided to cancel school due to the cold (and no, that isn't hyperbole -- we literally received fifteen different forms of communication combined).
In my district specifically, the devices are always available to students and staff. The resources for hybridized learning experiences are being built out rapidly in our learning management system. The connection between students and teachers via a web conferencing solution is a flip of a switch away (turn on Google+ for our secondary students, or build out our WebEx solution and expertise to make that the tool of choice for web conferencing).
Perhaps the missing piece for us today is the web connectivity in some students' homes. However, looking at the partnerships forming between local businesses, support missions/groups, and some of the big telecom companies, even connectivity in student homes will soon be a concern of the past.
So kids, enjoy your last few "No School" days while you still can. It's fairly clear that those, too, shall soon pass.
Don't worry, though. You may just get them back in another form. Can anybody else imagine a "No School" day due to a network outage? Note that prediction here!
(I can imagine ill-willed school children feeding energy bars and Monster Drinks to sweet little squirrels to turn them into ravenous, cable chewing rodents willing to chew through any fiber connection in order to bring down the school network and "earn" students a "Network Outage" day off of school.)