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

PHOTOS: Okanagan residents capture epic lightning show

A look at some of the best shots of the storm on May 30

Big White Ski Resort to offer rebate for pass holders after early closure

Next year’s pass will include a 20 per cent rebate

Rain in Sunday forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap

Environment Canada calling for 15-20 millimetres in regions

Arena served Summerland for 26 years

Warm winters meant short ice seasons in early 1950s

Keremeos winery co-owned by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C.’s provincial health officer is part of the original ownership group of Clos du Soleil in Keremeos

Minimum wage goes up June 1 in B.C. as businesses face COVID-19 challenges

The minimum wage jumps by 75 cents to $14.60 an hour on Monday

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

‘No tick is a good tick’: Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation

The foundation’s president said all ticks that attach to humans and pets can carry various diseases

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

District offers safety tips after cougar spotted near Lake Country school

The animal was seen on a walking trail near Peter Greer Elementary Saturday morning

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Most Read