With schools being forced to shut down because of the COVID-19 crisis, educators have haphazardly adjusted their teaching with little guidance. E-learning was the most obvious solution that schools across Ontario were quick to implement. But the beginnings of this new type of schooling are not satisfactory for long term education. Responsibility for student engagement has now fallen on their parents and guardians, and meaningful learning activities are not possible without a considerable amount of planning and structure. Paul Bennett from The Province urges us to consider the implications of this new, unknown world of e-learning.
The education system is now under stress: schools can either take the time to restructure learning and implement an innovative plan, or they can use e-learning as a quick fix that may crumble as the COVID-19 crisis continues. Nevertheless, teachers are expected to quickly make themselves well-versed in e-learning while students face daily stresses related to public health restrictions. Most importantly, educational inequities will become more apparent if students aren’t given the support and preparation necessary for an e-learning program. Students without digital access or a quiet study space at home are at a disadvantage compared to their peers with access to a quiet space and supplementary online learning such as Khan Academy. These inequities are also intertwined with socio-economic status and education levels of parents, which already divide children without school shutdowns.
Balancing students’ well-being and learning opportunities will be difficult in the months to come during this crisis. It is important to acknowledge that e-learning, without proper integration and adaptation to students’ previous modes of learning, can have an impact on the quality of learning and student mental health. E-learning requires more planning than was possible in the face of the COVID-19 shutdowns, so improving the programs as time goes on and giving teachers and parents the support they need is imperative to avoid learning deficits. Educators have long touted the benefits of technology and the boundless possibilities of online learning, but we can now see how difficult it is to properly use the tools at hand in the midst of a crisis.Tags: primary school, teaching
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This post was written by McKenzie Cline