London

Online learning up and running but Chromebooks and resources still being delivered

The director of education for the Thames Valley District School Board says more 10,000 iPads and other devices are being distributed to students who have suddenly had to adapt to a whole way new of learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The director of the Thames Valley District School board says it will take time to work out the wrinkles

Ipads prepared for distribution by the Thames Valley District School Board to thousands of students who need them to access the new online learning platform necessitated by the pandemic. (Twitter)

The director of education for the Thames Valley District School Board says more 10,000 iPads and other devices are being distributed to students who have suddenly had to adapt to a whole way new of learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mark Fisher told CBC's London Morning on Thursday that teachers are up and running with a new online distance-learning platform, and while there are still issues to address, it's going reasonably well considering how quickly it had to be set up.

"We have to remember that this is not just a replication of a regular classroom in a virtual setting. This is a whole different experience and this is a process that, were we to do this in different times, would have taken years to develop. We're trying to develop that in a matter of weeks for 80,000 students."

The new online learning system went into effect at the start of this week.

There are still hundreds of students who don't have access to the internet, and the board is working on ways to address that, Fisher added.

In the meantime, he said educators will be distributing hard copies of lesson plans for students who don't have a reliable internet connection.

Students are expected to do the online work, which can take from one to three hours a day depending on the student's grade level, Fisher said. 

But the the board is following a "do no harm" philosophy, he added.

Advice for parents

"The grade that a student has of March 13th is the baseline of the lowest possible grade they will receive…But students will have the opportunity to improve their grade through hard work between now and the end of June."

Fisher acknowledged some parents may be stressed by having to help their children with their new online school assignments, but said there are a lot of activities posted on the board's website that don't require any parental involvement.

His advice to parents is: "Do what you can and remember that no student will be disadvantaged as a result of this crisis."

Fisher also noted that the board's social workers are available to work with students who may be struggling or feeling disengaged and will "try to bring those students back in the fold and get to the bottom of what may be potential barriers for them learning."

As for adult education, Fisher said the board is trying to move it to an online platform, as well.

"I know there's been some confusion out there that these programs have all been cancelled. They have not. We are just in the process of trying to recalibrate them so they meet the needs and we will be offering programs moving forward."

Fisher said adult programs will likely resume in the next couple of weeks.

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