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

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

Just Posted

Popular event/party band March Hare will appear in an online streamed performance Friday (June 18) featuring their salute to music of the `60s and `70s as part of BEC Entertainment’s Grand Summer Virtual Concert series. (Contributed photo)
White Rock-based BEC Entertainment continues Friday-night virtual concerts

March Hare and California Surf Incorporated featured

Rahim Manji owns and operates the Hollywood 3 Cinemas in Newton, along with the Caprice in South Surrey, a theatre in Duncan and another in Pitt Meadows. “I think right now it feels different than last June, it just does,” Manji said. “I’m a lot more optimistic, with more people calling, more people out and getting vaccinated, so I think the comfort level is a lot better.” (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey movie theatre operators reopen and rejoice, even with 50-max capacity

‘We have been one of the hardest-hit industries’

A sign warning of a pack of coyotes hangs near 2660 Croydon Dr. (Aaron Hinks photo)
South Surrey woman sounds alarm after encounter with pack of coyotes

Susan Martin said three full-grown coyotes were lurking around her home

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police searching for Surrey woman missing at Centennial Beach

Wenyan Lan, 54, reported missing when she didn’t come home from a crabbing/clam digging trip June 14

Ian MacDonald, spokesman for Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Police Service launches public consultation campaign

This is to help the SPS form its first strategic plan

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Most Read