You might see students hanging out at restaurants or the library Wednesday during regular school hours. But Madison's schools aren't closed - it's Madison Consolidated Schools' first eLearning day.

eLearning days are offered to sixth- through 12th-grade students to give them an opportunity to experience a virtual learning environment.

The students will have access to online school instructions provided by their teachers.

Online learning gives students and teachers a chance to do things they can't accomplish in the classroom. Melanie Torline, public strategist for eLearning, said.

Teachers will create lessons in "My Big Campus," the school's online learning management system. Lessons will be interactive, Torline said.

"Seventy-four percent of our teachers participated in eLearning conferences geared toward getting them ready to create these kinds of lessons," Torline said.

During eLearning days, teachers will receive professional development and specialized digital curriculum planning time.

Parents can also log into "My Big Campus" to see what lessons are being posted by teachers and what their students are doing in class.

"My Big Campus" is located under "Services" and "eLearning & Technology" on MCS' home page.

Exposing students to online testing and learning, Torline said, has become a necessity as it has become more common.

"To get your GED (general education development degree) you have to take the test online. If you want to work at the Walmart in town, you have to take an online training course," Torline said.

According to a study by Educause, a nonprofit organization trying to advance education by promoting the use of technology, 80 percent of higher education institutions offer at least one online course to their students.

Torline said that MCS is trying to utilize the best of both worlds when it comes to using technology and traditional learning models.

"Face-to-face learning is still important," she said. "We're trying a hybrid model. A mix between online learning and the old brick-and-mortar model."

According to a release issued by the school, 94 percent of students from the high school and junior high school have elected not to come to campus Wednesday.

Students attending school on campus Wednesday will take the same lessons as the other students, but in a study hall environment, Torline said.

Bus, lunch and extracurricular schedules remain the same Wednesday.