All schools will be preparing for forced closure. Tonight Westlake Girls High is the first local high school to close to a large number of students as swine flu has been found in one of their senior girls. Others will follow over coming months. Senior students will be most affected, as they are on the way to high stakes testing later in the year.
So, what options are available for teachers to continue contact with students in these times? Most will have a secure intranet that students can connect to. This is good, but what happens if the school network is unable to be maintained for any reason? That's where the wider web comes in. And of course there are a range of options as long as your arm.
I prefer 4 tools - all are easy to use, though I prefer edmodo for most of our staff, followed by a wiki (wikispaces is my preference). Google Docs and Zoho are also good options, but perhaps lack the communications functions that a wiki or a microblog offer.
My preference for edmodo is that it is dead simple to set up - students only need the code generated when their teacher sets up the course and they are in - no email required, no lengthy sign up. It's easy for teachers too. It's organisation is similar to Twitter, making it ideal for engaging in discussions with indivduals or the whole class. Uploading files (both teacher and student) is simple - you can run assessments of a sort.
The following slideshare has some screen shots of all of the above tools. I'll use this with our staff on Tuesday as I outline options for them.