Sniffles, Snow Days, Tornadoes and Hurricanes- Why Schools Should Never Close

Springfield Illinois tornado

This is an actual photo of one of the tornadoes that hit Springfield, Illinois last weekend.

What do sniffles and snow days have to do with tornadoes and hurricanes?

All of these are a cause of a cancelled class or an instance of a student missing a class. With the web, podcasting and simple digital technology, this doesn’t have to happen as often as it has in the past.

CALI is launching the Legal Education Emergency Planning Project (LSEPP) to help law schools keep on teaching despite large and small interruptions to the school’s physical plant.

The link above goes to a wiki page where we encourage law school technology folks to contribute their ideas about this project. The project idea originally started as a discussion between CALI and the LII to share resources to create backup servers for our respective services in the case of service interruption.

Then Katrina hit.

There was a huge and generous outpouring of assistance from the IT community for the damaged universities. The problem was that there was no coordination and it resulted in some confusion for students and faculty about where to go to get the latest and most authoritative information. This all got worked out, but for most schools, the entire semester had to be cancelled.

Looking around a bit, we noticed that many Florida law schools close down at least once a year due to hurricanes (actual or threatened) and that law schools have been closed for other reasons like flooding basements (Chicago-Kent in 1993), hijackers (NYLS in 2001), tornadoes (U Kansas last week), fires (Buffalo a couple of years ago), etc etc.

The degree and extent of the disaster is more severe in some cases than others, but the result for the students and faculty is the same – cancelled classes.

The sniffles and snow days are just very minor examples of this. With podcasting like the type being done by law faculty at Classcaster, students need not miss a lecture due to sniffles and faculty need not cancel a class due to snow days.

With more coordination and effort, a school could limp along with a website, podcasts and email using facilities that are planned into the LSEPP project for a couple of weeks – at least until longer-term planning can take hold. This is a good use of distance education.

That’s the goal of LSEPP.

So, if you have ideas on how we can make this project work for you, go on over to the website and contribute.

Comments are closed.