It's an online day

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I was up early to check out snomageddon and to get a jump on some grading. Despite the best of intentions, I was seduced into checking my Facebook feed. A friend whose kids go to the Pine Island, MN school district had shared a post of a tweet from Tamara Berg-Beniak, Superintendent for the PineIsland, Minnesota School District. It said, "Pine Island Schools will be closed on Fri. Feb. 24. This will be an online day for all students in grades five through 12."

I was intrigued. What's an "online day" when the school is closed? And even as I could imagine what it might be, how was it that this was such old hat there was no explanation or any link to special instructions? Apparently everyone knows just what this means in Pine Island. Like Jean Luc Picard, the Superintendent tweets "online day" and all the students and all teachers simply "Make it so."

A quick search found an article called "Snow days don't delay learning in Pine Island" in the Rochester Post Bulletin from about this time of year but a full two years ago. It describes how leveraging their one-to-one mobile device program enables them to not have to miss and later make up school days due to weather. I can surely imagine everyone has a mobile device. I had not imagined they were so comprehensively used across the faculty and the curriculum that they could shift into online school (even for a day or two) on the command of a tweet.

There is much discussion about universal access to essential systems including public schools, healthcare and even the Internet. I wonder if everyone in Pine Island has an Internet connection and Wi-Fi where they live or will some miss out during an "online day"? This is something to think about as Decorah considers a city broadband utility. Like Decorah, Pine Island has many students that live out in the country. How universally available and sufficient is the Internet and Wi-Fi to all the homes out in the county? What would it take to support "online day"? Is it something we want or need to invest in?

Suggested Reading/Viewing/Listening:

Snow days don't delay learning in Pine Island

Pine Island, MN School

Paul R. Mattson

Paul R. Mattson

Paul Mattson, director of Luther's Information Technology Services since 2012, is a 1981 Luther grad who majored in mathematics and computer science. He also holds the Master of Science in management of technology from MIT and the Master of Science in computer and information science from the University of Minnesota. Prior to Luther, Paul was affiliated with the IBM corporation in Rochester, Minnesota, where he held a number of leadership positions over a period of more than 30 years. He was a leader of the IBM-Rochester Community and Technology College Smarter Planet Training Program, taught in the Luther College management information systems program during the 2009-10 academic year, taught strategic technology in Augsburg College's MBA program and is an IBM founding faculty member in the University of Minnesota's bioinformatics and computational biology program in the area of business development. He now teaches Data Modeling and Querying in Luther's Computer Science department.

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