School Boards across the province of B.C. have now turned to online education amid COVID-19 concerns. (Contributed)

Learning from home may present challenges for young students amid COVID-19

A UBC professor explains the challenges behind online learning for students

Kids are returning to school this week after an extended spring break due to COVID-19, however, the classroom looks a lot different.

Due to health restrictions, classes are now being taught online, often through the video chat app ‘Zoom’ where teachers can have face-to-face lessons with their students.

Marina Milner-Bolotin, associate professor, faculty of education at UBC, said that while secondary students have grown accustomed to online learning, for middle school and primary students learning online presents a challenge.

“The biggest challenge in my view is for younger kids,” said Milner-Bolotin.

“Younger kids need physical activity, they need to move. They can’t just sit for six hours in front of a computer. They also need adults to supervise them and to help them. So, if you have this opportunity at home then lucky you, but many children don’t.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: Government response to people experiencing homelessness in Kelowna

Parents are also faced with the difficulty of monitoring their children’s schooling, while providing extra help when needed on top of their jobs. But, for many parents, education is a foreign language, especially when tasked with paying the bills and putting food on the table.

Milner-Bolotin said another issue that presents itself is that teachers will have to adapt to online learning. For many teachers, teaching online will be an easy adjustment if they’ve experienced it as a student, whereas others with no experience will have a hard time learning new technology and using it effectively.

“Some teachers are very apprehensive about technology, so I think it’s a big challenge for them,” said Milner-Bolotin.

“I think to learn something new in a situation that’s an emergency is very difficult. Imagine they were told a year ago ‘in a year we’ll have a pandemic and you must learn to teach online’, well then I guarantee they’d be comfortable with teaching online. Now, they have to learn it in a much more stressful situation.”

READ MORE: Residents experiencing homelessness back outdoors as temporary winter shelters close

The greatest challenge may lay with the students from low-income households who may not be able to access online education from home, stated Milner-Bolotin.

She said that many families do not have enough computers to go around, making it difficult to complete their assignments and engage in online lessons.

“In regular circumstances, kids can go to the library if they need to and they’re not required to use a computer all the time,” said Milner-Bolotin.

To assist with learning the B.C. government is investing $3 million into public libraries.

Rob Fleming, Minister of Education explained that it’s important that people have access to digital literacy programs, ebooks and online learning.

“Libraries can use this new funding to provide enhanced digital and connectivity services by expanding Wi-Fi capabilities, offering community digital literacy training, enhancing online library programs and purchasing technology, such as scanners, tablets, microphones and cameras,” he said.

However, there is another looming concern for Milner-Bolotin, that of the well-being of students who may experience violence or other issues in the home and are now confined to that space.

She said many students rely on school as an escape from abuse and school-provided meals for food.

Fortunately, the Central Okanagan District School board has a plan in place for students who need extra support.

According to Moyra Baxter, board chairperson of the Central Okanagan School Board, the board has already lent out about 1,000 laptops to students who need them. It will also begin supplying food packages to families in which their children have been using the school’s meal programs. The package will be delivered once a week and will include breakfast and lunches.

READ MORE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, fear it’s a mistake

In addition, Baxter said communication will be made often between teachers and students to ensure the safety of each student at home.

“It’s a case of us trying to do things in a different way, knowing it won’t be the same,” said Baxter.

“This does present challenges, but we are trying to do what we can for vulnerable students.”

The board will be holding a public meeting online on Wednesday, April 8, to inform the Okanagan on its plan to support its students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit this link to attend.


Daniel Taylor
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at daniel.taylor@kelownacapnews.com
Follow me on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Playgrounds reopen in Sooke

The move comes two months after facilities were shut down during the height of COVID-19 pandemic

Sooke Food Bank takes steps towards ‘new norm’

Need for Sooke Food Bank nearly doubles since beginning of pandemic

West Shore RCMP tags spray-painting suspect for drug trafficking

Spray-painting incidents took place over weekend

Accessibility for disabled still an issue in Sooke

Room for improvement, says councillor

Saanich man dies from injuries after serious crash on Six Mile Road

Police continue to investigate cause of fatal crash

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Vancouver Island Regional Libraries to offer ‘takeout’ style services

VIRL will offer the service on a branch-by-branch basis

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Duncan’s Queen Margaret’s School pioneers thermal imaging in school reopening

Private school is first in B.C. to use new tech post-COVID-19

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

SOOKE HISTORY: Log booming on the San Juan River

Booming crews sorted the logs into booms bounded by cables for towing by tugboat to sawmills

Most Read