Tag Archives: online learning

First day of school…online

School started again today (learning never stopped).

in this strange experiment of learning remotely and keeping kids engaged whilst not freaking anyone out and managing all sorts of emotions (mostly mine), we stepped it up a notch to teacher-led learning.

I gotta say, I’m impressed. I’m not an advocate for online learning and I’ve spent a good deal of time railing against the proposed mandatory e-learning in this province, but in a pinch and with no other options, I am happy that everyone seems to be working together to provide some kind of structured learning for students. They rolled it out well, too.

I did discover a gap in computer skills with my youngest, though. I had suspected earlier in the school year that what teachers were calling “computer class” was likely just a bunch of time on an iPad or Chromebook doing activities on the web. Don’t get me wrong; there is definitely a need to learn how to search and work on the internet. But there are so many other skills that are needed to work effectively (and efficiently) with computers.

I’m not buying the kids-are-too-young-to-learn-that-stuff line. And I don’t believe that they can just pick it up without some formal instruction.

I spent about 20 minutes with my kid today and explained some basic online navigation skills and gave him a quick tutorial on Google Docs and some other programs and then he worked quietly for an hour on a French assignment with his sister, researching things online and using a French-English dictionary (not the online type) where there were gaps in his online research.

It was a good day. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Choose hope

For work and for helping my kids and for social connection, I’ve been spending way more time on social media than I usually do. And it’s wearing me down. I take digital breaks and stay offline when I don’t have to be online, but I feel like because the whole world is dealing with a common challenge (not to put too fine a point on it), it’s harder to just step away. Especially when government and health announcements are being made hourly, it seems.

When the fight was about government cuts to education or health care or tenant rent issues or the climate, even, I felt I could step back and choose what I read and responded to. But social distancing (or physical distancing as Dr Maria Van Kerkhove at the WHO said we should be calling it) has presented challenges to coming together in a real, person-to-person way and COVID-19 is amplified in the news. It makes taking a step back hard when I need to listen to or read the daily health announcements and new rules about going outside (not to mention that what I do for work is somewhat tied up in all the employment related fall-out from COVID-19, so I’m reading this stuff all day anyway).

There’s no break from it. And it gets nasty a lot of the time. Despite what Dan Gardner says:

So, why, if it’s a myth that disasters cause people to panic and the social order to collapse, is everyone being so nasty?

I have an idea. Why don’t we all stop griping and start helping.

In the last few weeks, the last few days especially, while we’re ALL just trying to get through this strange new reality we find ourselves in, I haven’t seen much in the way of support on either side of the political divide, from politicians or the general public. On the left, everyone’s screaming because the right is using COVID-19 to push their online learning agenda. On the right, everyone’s complaining about the money being spent & the power being acquired by the government in a bid to help people.

I get it; I don’t see the full picture, and neither does anyone else, because we curate our news from social media where we mostly just follow people who share our beliefs. But what if we just tried to work on things together instead of assuming that the other side was out to get us or put one over on us? It’s like reading a bunch of mean girl notes passed back and forth between kids on social media.

I may sound na├»ve, but I am going to choose to believe that the only way through this is by working together. It’s what I’m always saying to my kids: Learn to work together. Find a common point and work outwards from that center. The options you come up with may be far out, but keeping an open mind and working together to get all the ideas on the table will help you both get where you want to be.

I understand that teachers have reservations about grading their students given so many different circumstances, but I think what we have to remember, as well, is that not all students face barriers.

For the ones who do, we have to work together to find a solution…and there is one, I truly believe that. We just have to be creative and put all the ideas on the table, even the crazy ideas. For the ones who don’t face the technological and social barriers, we have to keep them engaged.

I’m not trying to minimize the challenges we’re facing. But we have great minds in this province. Let’s put them to work instead of using them to constantly complain on social media about how bad all of the current plans are and all the ways that it’s not going to work.

I am choosing to be encouraged by the TDSB’s Director of Education’s recent videos to students and parents about how schooling is moving forward starting on April 6. He didn’t give much in the way of details, but he gave hope that something is being done. And I know the teachers and staff are all working tirelessly to make the best of a bad situation. This is what humans do. This is how we have survived on this planet. We’ve been so pampered with material things in the last century that we have forgotten how to survive and we’ve become a bunch of whiny wimps. Together we’re stronger. Left and Right.

We’re all in this together. Choose hope, have faith, work together.