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Editorial: Blackboard Collaborate Should be Used for Snow Days

Snow day considerations

To view the original article in The Triangle, click here
by the Editorial Board of The Triangle

Another day in the Northeast during winter, another day of being pummeled by snow - we just can’t seem to make it to class during winter term. But perhaps all the blame for missed classes on snowy days shouldn’t be placed solely on us, the students.

The majority of Drexel students are commuters - whether that entails driving in from the suburbs, jumping on SEPTA, or walking through West Philly to get to campus. This in itself can be problematic for students when attending class in the snow. Is there a way to really know if the day’s lecture is worth risking wrecking your car or sliding off the road on the I-76? Will recitation be worth slipping on ice on dangerously uncleared sidewalks? What’s a student to do when a road is closed, the buses aren’t running, their car is stuck or the snow knocked their power off and their alarm clock never rang?

None of these problems are the fault of Drexel, nor can Drexel control them. That’s why winter term has special implications for professors. If the University isn’t going to close the entire campus in the face of harsh conditions, a professor can still cancel his or her class.

Let’s remember, campus itself may be plowed, but that doesn’t mean commuters who live in Delaware or New Jersey have such clean pathways. And if the professor does cancel class, he or she needs to make the announcement with a reasonable window of warning. Nothing is more annoying than getting out of bed and doing a hour-long tightrope walk on ice to get from the suburbs to campus only to find out the professor sent an e-mail cancelling class 10 minutes earlier.

We live in 2011, a time when technology is our friend; let’s use even the most basic digital tools such as e-mail to get missed homework assignments and class notes when we can’t make it. Drexel also offers resources such as BB Vista and Wimba Live Classroom that help bring the classroom online, which can keep a class from falling behind schedule. This is particularly applicable to evening classes, which were canceled for snow on Jan. 26 - classes that meet just once a week are put significantly further behind than most by a single cancellation. There is no reason that learning has to take place in a classroom during a dangerous winter storm. Professors can not afford to be Luddites in 21st century teaching.

During winter term, professors should increase the number of classes a student can miss without penalty to their participation grade - we’ve already had a few days of horrible weather this term and expect at least a few more (unless the groundhog by some miracle doesn’t see his shadow this Feb. 2). More importantly, we don’t want to hear of professors chastising students for being late when the weather is so bad. And remember, even if the University is open, a professor can always cancel class at their own discretion.