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Janine Schaub with Biko the Bengal kitten

March 24, 2020

I am holed up at my Toronto home with my family, our three pets and a Bengal kitten that we are looking after for my son. When I’m not breaking up cat and dog fights, I am pondering the implications of the current COVID-19 crisis, including its educational implications. 

What are public schools doing in Canada?

The Canadian Ministries of Education have launched websites for students and public school boards across the country are making online resources available. Very soon schools will be communicating with families about next steps.

What will public education look like until the end of June?

It seems unlikely that children will be back in schools before the year completes in June. Communication from the board I work for (Toronto District School Board) has told teachers to stay at home and wait until they are given direction to make contact with students and parents. While they wait, teachers are being instructed to familiarize themselves with the online resources that are being provided by the Ministries of Education and the boards.

What are Janine Schaub’s observations about online education?

I have a great deal of experience using online K-8 lessons and assignments in the classroom and am familiar with the breadth as well as the limitations of online environments for students. I also have a daughter that completed her high school education online and is pursuing an online university degree. 

Here are some of my observations about online education:

  • Online education with an educator’s remote help is still more difficult than online education in the classroom with teacher instruction
  • Online education with remote access to an educator is a lonely business. In 10 years of only online education, my daughter has spoken to her teachers by phone for a total of 4 hours 
  • Online time-management is a challenge for most students
  • Online environments can often be distracting and slow down work progress
  • Online student chat communities designed to be part of the learning experience often hinder rather than help work progress
  • Online assignments are most often designed as a “one-size-fits-all” approach and are not tailored to students with unique needs
  • Students in grades K-4 need a computer-literate adult to help them navigate online resources in order to become competent digital learners
  • A small portion of older students need continual assistance to log onto a computer and navigate online resources