What’s New? Cyber Days and Cyber Assistants

High-tech trends in schools.

By Barb Szyszkiewicz

In the news: two creative ways schools are using technology.

Cyber Days

In some parts of the country, snow days are a regular interruption in the school calendar. Snow-day disruptions can cause schools to have to “give back” vacation days during Easter break or remain open later in June. Schools with 1:1 technology access for their students, however, have begun taking advantage of this capability and implementing Cyber Days when inclement weather becomes a factor.

I have first-hand experience with this: Cyber Days have been the norm at the high school my son attends since his freshman year. Holy Cross Preparatory Academy in Delran, New Jersey, avoids school-calendar stress with its Cyber Day policy. Teachers are required to post assignments by 10 a.m. on Cyber Days, and students must turn in their work by 8 p.m.

At the beginning of the school year, parents were assured that Cyber Day assignments would be meaningful work and would require students to put in similar time and effort as if they were in class. I’ve witnessed my son at work on a group project for one class during a Cyber Day last month; the three students in the group collaborated on a Google Doc to complete the work.

“They came in highly-prepared and it was a continuation of the educational process,” English teacher Anne Marie Byrnes said, describing a recent Cyber Day in an interview with the Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based Courier Post. “They have all complied with it. I think they still enjoy being able to do school work in their pajamas from the comfort of their bed, but they turn it in on time.”

Read more about Cyber Days at Holy Cross Prep in this article from the Courier Post.

CBS3 video: Cyber Days Replacing Snow Days At South Jersey Prep School: With assignments from each class, students got credit for the school day just as if they were in the building.

Cyber Assistants

Would you bring a digital assistant into your classroom? A recent Philadelphia Inquirer article describes how Amazon Echo and Google Home devices have found a new home in the classroom.

I have questions:

  • What happens when there’s a student named “Alexa” or “Alexis” or any variation of those in the classroom? Would an Amazon device be confused?
  • Are parents, teachers, and administrators concerned about privacy when these devices are in use?
  • Will using digital assistants to complete research quickly deter students from developing their own research skills?

Chime in! Tell us what you think about implementing Cyber Days or using a digital assistant in your classroom!


Barb Szyszkiewicz is editor at CatholicMom.com and managing editor of Today’s Catholic Teacher.

All content copyright © Today’s Catholic Teacher/Bayard.com. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for classroom/parish use with full attribution as long as the content is unaltered from its original form. To request permission to reprint online, email editor@catholicteacher.com.