MOUNT VERNON — There will be no calamity days at the Knox County Career Center this year. Calamity days have always caused a challenge to school administrators, said KCCC Superintendent Bernie Pachmayer. “Do you close? Do you stay open? Do you make a bad decision in bringing kids when it’s unsafe because you’re so limited on days, or do you find a solution to the problem?”
Pachmayer’s solution is to keep the students safely tucked in their homes when the weather is bad and travel conditions are unsafe. They will be keeping up with their classes online through the modular object-oriented dynamic learning environment better known as Moodle.
Classes will take place as usual, Pachmayer said, but in a virtual environment.
“Let’s say the student has an English class at 8:20 in the morning,” she said. “He or she will be required to go on the computer at home at 8:20 for English class. At 9:30 they will tune into their social studies class. In the Moodle program they have the chance to go online in a chat room or forum scenario which would give them an opportunity to talk live to their classmates as well as the teacher. Because there is an attendance module on Moodle, the teachers can tell who is online, how long they stay online and whether they participate in the virtual class. The administration team also has the ability to do what is called walk-throughs. They would walk through the virtual classrooms, see who is online, what’s being instructed and who is in attendance.”
Pachmayer said Moodle will work for the labs as well, since all of the labs have content to be learned as well as hands-on training.
If the power goes out, there is no problem; Moodle programs are stored, said Pachmayer. “If the electricity doesn’t come back until 2 p.m. students could go online at that time and pick up their class assignments and do their work right online. It is a 24/7 process. At a certain time their teacher will be online and they can talk to their teacher and get help with their work. At other times, the teacher will not be online, but the students can pick up their work and get it done then.”
Alternative instructional means are still being worked out for the 15 percent of the KCCC student population who are unable to get on the computer or access the Internet at home. Pupils in the KCCC preschool program will not be part of the Moodle option, and will most likely have to make up any missed days.
Moodle will also provide a way for students who have extended illnesses to keep up with their classwork, and Pachmayer said there is another benefit. Universities and colleges are requiring students to have online experience before they go to school and the students will run into online classes at the university and college level. The KCCC program will give them a head start on successfully using virtual learning methods