Public Act 101-0012 opened the door for E-Learning in Illinois, allowing instruction to be delivered electronically when students cannot be physically in attendance at school. Illinois School Code requires that certain elements must be in place, however, to ensure the quality of e-learning plans and activities. E-Learning Plans must include ways to:
- Ensure and verify at least 5 clock hours of instruction or school work for each student participating in an e-learning day;
- Ensure access from home or another appropriate remote facility for all students participating, including computers, the Internet, and other forms of electronic communication that must be utilized in the proposed program;
- Ensure appropriate learning opportunities for students with special needs;
- monitor and verify each student’s electronic participation;
- Address the extent to which student participation is within the student’s control as to the time, pace, and means of learning;
- Provide effective notice to students and their parents or guardians of the use of particular days for e-learning;
- Provide staff and students with adequate training for e-learning days’ participation;
- Ensure an opportunity for any collective bargaining negotiations with representatives of the school district’s employees that would be legally required; and
- Review and revise the program as implemented to address difficulties confronted.
Additionally, a local school board must hold a public hearing before approving the E-Learning Plan, and the items noted above must then be verified by Regional Offices of Education before an E-Learning Day is implemented. Schools may only use as many E-Learning Days as they have built into their approved calendar for “emergency days.”
Illinois is one of a dozen states having specific policies in place to support quality E-Learning activities. The Indiana Department of Education’s Office of E-Learning provides a number of useful resources, especially their E-Learning Day Program page.
Following the lessons learned from Illinois’ three pilot school districts, Leyden #212, West Chicago #94, and Gurnee #56, several Illinois schools have successfully implemented E-Learning Day plans and activities. Oak Lawn #229, Evanston #202, Minooka #201, and Gower #62 are among many districts that are implementing E-Learning activities in various ways.
The Learning Technology Center of Illinois is happy to provide guidance and training through Regional Offices of Education on E-Learning Day Plans and Designing E-Learning Day Activities for classrooms. Please contact Matt Jacobson, Online Learning Specialist, at (309) 575-3240 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.