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

Shea Long roosts in the Shoot Out in the Telkwa Range. (SnoRiders, Houston/Shea Long photo)
Telkwa Range snowmobiling permit lottery opens

Application period is Oct. 20 to Nov. 20 for snowmobiliers and skiers to gain access to Starr Basin

Students from Houston Secondary School showed up voluntarily on Nov. 29, 2019, during their lunch break to provide input on the board’s strategic plan. (Matthew Monkman/Houston Today)
SD 54 unveils their new logo

Part of the Strategic Draft Plan released by the school district

The Dupras family has been regulars at the Babine River and have seen plentiful grizzlies over the years. (Jay Dupras photo/Lakes District News)
A family’s close encounter with a grizzly on Babine River bridge

Photo-enthusiasts let the bear access the bridge for photos putting others at risk

Catenary poles, from which lights will be strung, mark some of the progress as the 9th St. improvement project nears its finishing date. (Houston Today photo)
Downtown work to continue into end of this month

Finishing touches not expected until next spring

District of Houston office
Wants variance to allow taller building

Property owners adjacent to M. Brown Contracting on Vriend Road have the… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
2 years after huge highway acid spill, Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast their ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

Most Read