This Monday morning, I awoke early (for whatever reason), realized I should check my email to see how the weather would be affecting my day, and promptly rolled over back to sleep upon learning that McDaniel College would be having its fifth snow day of the semester. (It’s normal to have one or two snow days in the spring semester, but once we get to four or five or more, things start to get a little excessive.)
Missing five days in a semester makes for a lot of lost class time–I’ve lost nine hours of time spent in class due to weather-related school cancellations. Luckily, the tuition dollars that would apply to that class time has not gone completely to waste; this semester (and in previous semesters), my professors have gotten creative with having class outside of class so that we can accomplish the work we need to stay on track and get as much as possible out of every class. It can seem and be tedious to have to give up part of a snow day to do this work, but I appreciate my professors’ concern with student education and tuition dollars being put to good use.
Today, for example, my Memoir Writing professor, in anticipation of the snow day, set up a discussion board on Blackboard (an online tool used to facilitate learning, assignments, supplements, and grades) so that my classmates and I could discuss last night’s readings online. The discussion board questions were based on questions she had supplied last night and which would have been used to facilitate discussion in class, so I had time to prepare for the discussion before it went live this afternoon.
While an online discussion board doesn’t come close to replicating an in-class discussion, it does allow me to see and think about what all of my classmates are thinking about each particular question instead of a few select classmates who choose to volunteer answers and ideas during class. It also takes away some of the pressure of having to come up with responses on the spot.
I’ve had other professors establish discussion boards too, either for snow day makeup work or as homework assignments in addition to class.
And in terms of other ways to make up missed class on snow days, I’ve had professors video tape themselves giving lectures and then posting them on YouTube and I’ve had professors assign written work to be submitted directly to the professor as a substitute for what would have been time in class.
For me, time spent in class is better than any of these options, but I am thankful that technology has allowed me to make up for classes (and money) that I would have otherwise lost due to the uncontrollable forces of Mother Nature.