Ford’s government says it wants to move closer to an education model used in 'Alabama’ and 'Arkansas’
Ontario students overwhelmingly disapprove of Premier Doug Ford’s plan to replace human teachers with online courses.
The Ford government says it plans to significantly expand mandatory online education and eliminate several thousand teacher jobs, a move Ford’s education minister says will bring Ontario closer to a model of education used in US Republican-controlled states like “Alabama” and “Arkansas.”
But a survey conducted by the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association (OSTA-AECO) finds 94.5% of Ontario students “disapprove” of Ford’s plan.
In fact, a majority of Ontario students (60%) said their “learning styles were not adequately accommodated” by Ontario’s existing online education modules.
The OSTA-AECO, an official stakeholder group composed of elected student trustees from Ontario’s public and Catholic school boards, shared its findings in an in-depth report on eLearning published at the beginning of the school year.
I am the writer of @OSTAAECO’s eLearning report. Here’s what we have learned:
-1/4 students had trouble contacting teachers on eLearning
-~90,000 students wouldn’t be able to get their OSSD with mandatory eLearning
-95% of students disagree w/ the mandate#onpoli #onted https://t.co/Fx2bkBShvl
— Simon Harris (@SimonHarrisSays) January 13, 2020
The association’s survey asked 6,000 grade 8-12 students at 60 public and Catholic school boards across Ontario about their experiences with Ontario’s current eLearning programs. It found:
- One in four said they had difficulty contacting their eLearning teachers.
- 35% said they experienced challenges using eLearning software.
- 60% felt their learning styles were not accommodated by eLearning.
- An “estimated ceiling” of 90,000 students across Ontario would not be able to obtain their high school diploma if eLearning is mandated for all students.
“Right now students, depending on the learning style, depending on the resources they have available to them, are struggling just to thrive in a classroom environment — let alone a fully online environment,” OSTA-AECO president Sally Meseret told PressProgress.
“We really have to think about the long-term implications this will have.”
“For me personally, last year in Grade 11 I took computer science online,” Meseret explained. “From what I noticed, it takes a lot of time management, you’re entirely responsible for your learning.”
“There’s no one who’s guiding you.”
The survey notes students taking online courses typically submit assignments to a dropbox that closes on a set date and are usually only able to contact instructors via email or instant messaging.
That feature, Meseret said, leaves many students without in-person support.
Last December, Ontario government buried details about parents’ responses to increased class sizes, introduced in conjunction with the new e-learning mandate.
However, Global News reported those involved in surveying parents claim a “majority” of parents opposed the government’s expanded e-learning targets.
Correction: This article originally stated 90,000 students reported they would not be able to obtain a high school diploma if the Ford government implemented mandatory eLearning. In fact, this number refers to an “estimated ceiling” based on a sample of student responses.