Virtual School Meanderings

November 29, 2021

[REPOST] OECD – School Education During COVID-19: Were Teachers And Students Ready?

This was originally posted at https://k12sotn.ca/blog/oecd-school-education-during-covid-19-were-teachers-and-students-ready/.

As a follow-up to the Canadian eLearning Network’s (CANeLearn’s) Pandemic Pedagogy Research reports, there have been several reports published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED) that have also included a focus on or content related to Canada as a part of their “The state of education during the COVID pandemic.”

EDUCATION 18 MONTHS INTO COVID

Cover of OECD report "The state of education 18 months into COVID"

This report is an update on the first report published in April 2021 (below) – this new publication provides an overview of educational responses from OECD member and partner countries 18 months into the COVID crisis.

Read the full report on the OECD iLibrary

EDUCATION ONE YEAR INTO COVID

State of education one year into the COVID pandemic report cover

In 2020, 1.5 billion students in 188 countries/economies were locked out of their schools.

Students everywhere have been faced with schools that are open one day and closed the next, causing massive disruption to their learning.

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic still raging, many education systems are still struggling, and the situation is constantly evolving.

The OECD – in collaboration with UNESCO, UNICEF and The World Bank – has been monitoring the situation across countries and collecting data on how each system is responding to the crisis, from school closures and remote learning, to teacher vaccination and gradual returns to in-class instruction.

This report presents the preliminary findings from this survey, providing a snapshot of the situation one year into the COVID crisis.

Read the full report on the OECD iLibrary

Résumé en français : La situation de l’enseignement scolaire un an après le début de la pandémie de COVID

Blogs

Repeating the school year not the answer to COVID learning losses: Andreas Schleicher

The state of education – one year into COVID

LAUNCH EVENT: EDUCATION ONE YEAR INTO COVID

Get the presentation

 

November 26, 2021

Thank you for joining the conversation

So I signed up for this event.  While I have removed the Zoom link that I received, I wanted to pass along the document because there are several items in here I feel may be of interest to readers.  You are able to sign up for the webinar yourself at:

https://edcan.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ad36f7933a&id=d3d01c201d

Save the date, Michael!

You are now registered for the LIVE conversation on December 6th, at 7:00 PM (ET). Here is your Zoom link to join on the day. Important details will follow leading up to the virtual event.

Convened in “one room”, researchers and educators will get to discuss the research in question and its practical use in the classrooms all while reflecting on the key question “How will we teach in a (post)-pandemic Canada?” and the next steps. This session is meant to be engaging and interactive through open and meaningful exchanges.

Read and listen ahead to the researchers’ perspectives on this question and come prepared to share your own thoughts and insights. Every participant has a voice.

Impact starts with Research you can relate to.

PODCAST

Listen to this lively one-hour podcast that highlights how each researcher explores the key question through their unique perspectives.

Listen here

ARTICLES

Read “Why NOT to Quit After First Attempts in Online and Hybrid Learning”
By Valerie Irvine

Read “How Can This Be More Accessible?”
By Ian Matheson
and Jeffrey MacCormack 

Read “Reconciliation: A Chance to Heal as a Nation”
By Kevin Lamoureux

Read “A Focus on Human Flourishing”
By Kristina R. Llewellyn

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact communication@edcan.ca.

We look forward to seeing you on December 6th!

Email
Twitter
LinkedIn
Facebook
Website
Copyright © 2021 EdCan Network, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up to the Live Conversation session of Education Canada, powered by voicEd Radio. / Vous recevez ce courriel car vous vous êtes inscrit-e-s à la session de conversation en direct d’Éducation Canada, portée par voicEd Radio.

Our mailing address is:

EdCan Network

Business Bldg.
60 St Clair Ave E Suite 703

Toronto, ON M4T 1N5

Canada

November 25, 2021

[REPOST] Dean Shareski Touts New CANeLearn Report Examining Preparations for the 2021-22 School Year

This entry was originally posted on the Canadian eLearning Networks blog at https://canelearn.net/2021/11/04/dean-shareski-touts-new-canelearn-report-examining-preparations-for-the-2021-22-school-year/.

The current state of education in Canada might be best described as “tired.” With 18 months of a pandemic behind us, it is still uncertain as to when, or if, life will return to pre-pandemic times. (I purposely avoided the word “normal” or “new normal.”) This uncertainty has been particularly difficult for schools and educators. This is hard.

Those of us with a keen interest in online learning are watching carefully to see how provinces, territories, districts, and schools will emerge. The disruptive nature of technology has been on full display and has received mixed reviews. Many are anxiously looking to see schools adopt and improve on many of the practices that began in early 2020, others are seeking to return to a time where distance learning was either a last resort or an option for a small minority of learners.

This report offers a clear, thoughtful, and unbiased look at how every province tackled this dilemma. It’s worthwhile to compare the paths that each jurisdiction took from March of 2020 to the fall of 2021. The decisions that were made early on were largely uniform across Canada as emergency remote teaching took centre stage. Things began to diverge somewhat across the country as provinces prepared for a new school year. As outlined by the authors, Phase 2 or 3 is where we are now, depending on jurisdiction, and represents the greatest differences in various approaches to online learning.

The Canadian eLearning Network has done the hard work of collating various data and begun to plant the seeds to ask the really important questions such as:

  • How did provinces arrive at the decisions around online learning for the 2021-22 school year?
  • How effective was online learning in 2020-21?
  • How much did teacher, student, and parent voices influence decisions?
  • Have the past 18 months helped districts to create a new and better vision for online learning?

Having experienced and seen the benefits of online learning from both an instructor and working with districts across the country, Canada is well positioned to build upon their success and learn from their failure to create the best learning opportunities and environments for all learners. CANeLearn continues to provide information that is difficult to gather with reports such as this one. If you’re looking to understand the current context of online learning in Canada, this report will provide that for you. Beyond understanding, this report should lead to essential conversations and action.

Dean Shareski
Educational Consultant
Advanced Learning Partnerships


To read more, click here for the full report.

The full project website is available at https://sites.google.com/view/canelearn-ert/

November 24, 2021

[REPOST] 18 Months In, Have We Learned Any Lessons?

This entry was originally posted on the Canadian eLearning Networks blog at https://canelearn.net/2021/11/03/18-months-in-have-we-learned-any-lessons/.

Toggling Toward a ‘New Normal’

As the 2020-21 school year progressed, it was evident lessons that could, or should, have been learned during the rapid transition to emergency remote teaching in Spring 2020 had not been heeded in all provinces and territories. The reality was that some jurisdictions simply did not put in place the necessary planning or preparation to allow the 2020-21 school year to proceed in the expected ‘toggle term’ fashion – as envisioned by Phase 3 of the educational response to COVID-19 (see Figure 1 above). While some schools remained open throughout the entire 2020-21 school year and others offered robust online learning instruction, some jurisdictions experienced province-wide school closures for up to 19 weeks with limited success with remote learning due to a lack of planning and teacher training. Even those schools that remained open, often used a model of hybrid learning that boards/districts and teachers were unprepared to implement with the level of fidelity needed to ensure that students had an equitable learning experience to the in person, classroom-based context (Stewart, 2021; Wong, 2021b).

While it may be safe to say that in many jurisdictions teachers lacked the training and were unprepared to transition to remote learning, this was not the case in other jurisdictions. Some provinces and territories were potentially much better positioned to provide continuity of learning than others. For example, Nova Scotia extended their December 2020 holiday break for students by one week, and set province-wide teacher professional development during the first week of January 2021 that covered a variety of topics (including social emotional learning and technology). Further, guidelines were announced for the 2020-21 school year that established minimum hours for synchronous remote learning and asynchronous learning. The Ministry of Education also provided all teachers access to their eLearning site and distributed assistive technologies for students requiring them.

Similarly, British Columbia delayed implementing changes to its online learning programs (Government of British Columbia, 2021a) which enabled many of the 69 public and independent online schools to enroll students whose parents/guardians preferred them to learn from home (Barbour et al., 2020a). British Columbia also continued with student cohorts or ‘learning groups’ for in-school learning and for secondary students a hybrid learning model was implemented with cohort groups alternating in-school attendance and remote learning. Teachers were required to transition learning materials to a learning management system (such as Moodle, Google Classroom, or Microsoft Teams). As such, teachers were able to track student progress whether they were attending at school or while they were learning remotely. It is also worth noting that there were no province-wide school closures in the 2020-21 school year.

Arguably, both British Columbia’s and Nova Scotia’s provincial models could support ‘toggling’ between in-school and online/remote learning options as described in Phase 4 of Figure 1. However, it is not entirely clear to what degree that might have occurred or how effective the practices were. Some of the initial information indicated that British Columbia saw a slight increase in classroom attendance (Montreuil et al., 2021), as well as the number of students traditionally learning online (i.e., approximately 10 percent of the student population), but also found large gaps and decreases in both attendance and achievement for Indigenous students.

Preparation to Open for Fall 2021

It is important to remember that at the time each of these jurisdictions were determining and/or adjusting their plans for K-12 education, it was against the backdrop of the status of the pandemic in their individual province or territory. Health Canada (2021) began presenting the number of active COVID-19 cases in graphical format on their website in late July 2020. Table A-1, as well as Figures A-1 through A-4, in Appendix A indicate the number of active cases in each jurisdiction across Canada on the first day of June, July, August, and September for each province and territory. This data is not presented to parse trends with regard to infection rates throughout the Summer 2021 planning period, or to suggest specific differences between the provinces and territories. However, as the active case rate would have been an important factor influencing each jurisdictions’ plans and actions, it is important that the reader have ready access to this data.

As one example, it was against the backdrop of these active case rates during the summer 2021, as well as the active case rates throughout the 2020-21 school year (see Appendix A in Nagle et al, 2021), that provinces and territories made the public health decisions described in Table 3 that could impact the instructional model during the 2021-22 school year.

Table 3. Factors impacting the instructional model

Jurisdiction Vaccine Masks Distancing Cohorts Class Size Activities
BC None Required for grade 4 and up Not required Can resume
AB None Not required Not required Can resume
SK None Required for unvaccinated Not required None
MB None Indoors Where possible K-6 Follow public health guidelines
ON None Required Where possible None Can resume
QC None Not required Not required None Can resume
NB None Required None “Greater freedom”
NS None Required Required None Not specified Can resume
PE None Recommended Follow public health guidelines
NL None Not required Not required None Not specified Can resume
YT None Required Required None Can resume
NT None Required Required

K-6

Recommended On hold
NU None Up to local public health officials Where possible Recommended On hold

Based on the active COVID-19 cases, some jurisdictions were banking on limited spread of the virus in schools. This hope was based on data from the last school year, which may not have factored in viral variant spread in the student population (i.e., the largest pool of the unvaccinated). The pressure was on for swift vaccination to counter further disruption, yet at the time of publication some schools across the country were closing (CBC News 2021a; Moore, 2021; Watson, 2021).

Even with a more relaxed approach to public health precautions, Table 5 illustrates that most jurisdictions still did not make systematic preparations for hybrid learning or remote learning (beyond what was experienced during the Spring 2020 or the 2020-21 school year).

Table 4. Fall 2021 Learning Options by Jurisdiction           

Jurisdiction Learning Options
BC Full in-person instruction; with distance learning an option
AB Full in-person instruction
SK Full in-person instruction; additionally secondary students will be able to obtain credits through a variety of educational avenues
MB Full in-person instruction; remote learning available for students who are immunocompromised
ON Full in-person instruction; remote learning required based on Policy/Program Memorandum No. 164
QC Full in-person instruction
NB Fully in-person instruction, but policies may be adjusted depending on epidemiology
PE Full in-person instruction, but policies will be adjusted depending on level of risk; remote learning available to high risk students
NS Full in-person instruction, but policies may be adjusted depending on epidemiology
NL Full in-person instruction; remote learning for students who cannot attend due to medical reasons
YT Full in-person instruction; supports, tools, and training available for blended learning and remote learning
NT Full in-person instruction; remote learning is available for students with medical concerns
NU Full in-person instruction (unless advise by public health officials)

Both Table 3 and 4 demonstrate a pattern for the continuation of putting all efforts and focus to in-person instruction, again with minimal focus on preparing for a ‘toggle’ described in Phase 3 in Figure 1. Indeed, with continuing disruptions and school closures, such as the October public employee’s strike in New Brunswick (Brown & April, 2021), the argument could be made that few jurisdictions are even thinking about a ‘new normal’ and the ability to actually pivot swiftly between in school and remote learning with limited impact on student engagement and learning. In Ontario, in the government’s guide to reopening schools (Davidson, 2021), school boards were required to consider remote learning when schools closed due to inclement weather. The need to effectively plan for and train teachers for a model of ‘toggling’ between in school and remote could not be more clear.

There are several specific examples in the Fall 2021 that are worth noting that could be examples of a move to supporting the ‘toggle’. For example, British Columbia continued to delay the implementation of changes to its online learning programs (Government of British Columbia, 2021a) which enabled many of the 69 public and independent online schools to enroll students whose parents/guardians preferred them to learn from home (Barbour et al., 2020a). In Nova Scotia when the new school year launched, 75 percent of parents surveyed reported having reliable bandwidth in their homes based on improvements made the year before, and, coupled with a clear direction to upskill teachers with the one-week province-wide teacher training in January 2021 and the provincial online tools and curriculum resources provided to all teachers, Nova Scotia arguably also had the ability to ‘toggle’ and adapt to changing circumstances as described in Phase 4.

In stark contrast, in Ontario the concurrent teaching model – where classroom-based teachers teach students in the classroom and simultaneously to remote students logged into web conferencing software that live streams the classroom – began emerging during the 2020-21 school year. It was dubbed as ‘hybrid learning,’ but as discussed earlier the Ontario model was the concurrent teaching model of hybrid.[1] This ‘live’ broadcast teaching model with students in the classroom and others logging in by video remotely was planned for by many boards after the Ministry of Education announced that all school boards in the province would offer a remote learning option during the 2021-22 school year (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2021; C. Wilson, 2021). While many boards already offered optional online learning programs that were quickly doubling in size, some boards were unable to offer an online program that covered the full curriculum (King, 2021; Simcoe County District School Board, 2021). Further, many school boards lacked the necessary funding to create or offer an online or remote learning program (Wong, 2021b). In essence, the concurrent teaching or hybrid learning model was the only way that many school boards were able to meet the Ministry’s remote learning policy requirement that was within the board’s financial means. Even before the start of the new school year, the model had fallen under criticism (Stewart, 2021) and recently teachers unions are speaking out about its negative impact on both teachers and student learning (Fox, 2021a).

There were some jurisdictions who provided good detail and direction in their announced plans at the start of the 2021-22 school year. Interestingly, both Nunavut and the Yukon are examples of jurisdictions where the Ministry plans were detailed and descriptive, but more importantly outlined a variety of instructional options to accommodate all possibilities associated with a realistic understanding of the toggle nature of the 2021-22 school year. For example, Nunavut has a 35-page document that outlines a variety of strategies to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into schools, how to respond when COVID-19 is detected in the school, how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 once it is present, and how to address potential learning disruption to individual student’s, complete classes, or complete schools (Nunavut Department of Education, 2021a). Further, recognizing that the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years were both disrupted and that unequal levels of learning may have occurred, the Nunavut Department of Education (2021b) released Learning to Be Together Again Support for Nunavut Schools in 2021-22, which began with a focus on ‘recovery learning,’ or the “responsive process that enables students to transition back to in-class learning, while addressing mental and physical well-being and student achievement” (p. 5). The goals of recovery learning are to determine where students are in their understanding and then to offer students flexible avenues to help them achieve where they need to be. In addition to the recovery learning aspects, the document also focused on how to incorporate blended learning and remote learning – depending on the local epidemiology.

Similarly, the Yukon (2021a) in their School during COVID-19: Guidelines for the 2021–22 School Year provided clear guidelines for “What school looks like for ALL students” and “What school looks like at individual schools” in the case of 100%, 50%, 20% and 0% school capacity. Essentially, there were detailed descriptions for the public health measures in place for in-person learning, how schools would operate and learning would occur when there was a need for hybrid learning with half capacity and very low capacity, and then the planning needed for remote learning to occur. Additionally, even when there was no disruption, the document outlined measures that would be undertaken to incorporate more blended learning into the classroom, which it was argued would make hybrid learning and remote learning less of an adjustment. These types of plans were much more realistic in terms of how the 2021-22 school year was likely to progress, as compared to the perspective that “students must return to class… barring ‘only the most catastrophic of circumstances’” (CBC News, 2021b, para. 1).

Opening Days of the 2021-22 School Year

At the start of the 2021-22 school year, the concurrent teaching variation of the hybrid learning model quickly came under criticism after it was announced as an option for the coming school year in Ontario. As a reminder, the concurrent teaching model is one where the teacher manages instruction and student learning for children that arrive to their classroom, while simultaneously streaming that instruction to children who are forced or choose to remain at home and connect to the room remotely. Stewart (2021) suggested that the “relationships teachers build and support in their classrooms… are integral to children’s engagement, learning and wellness [and that a] hybrid model disrupts those practices, and encourages a default to simple, slowed-down, teacher-led approaches” (para. 13-14). This, according to Stewart, reduced the quality of the education received by students both in the classroom and online. This criticism was echoed in the voices of students who were concerned that teachers were preoccupied with technology and processes to try and connect the two groups of students to the classroom, as one chemistry teacher trying to demonstrate an experiment and had “five screens up, two mouses and two keyboards — and it takes her half an hour to set it up.., class time that we could be using to be learning chemistry” (Wong, 2021c, para. 5). Teachers as well expressed significant concerns about the concurrent teaching model as one teacher explains:

before classes start, he must also connect all his online ‘production’ gear, which includes computers, a web cam and a tablet. Then, if he suddenly loses connectivity to his learners at home, he has to quickly troubleshoot. “Meanwhile, the kids in-class? I have to keep them engaged and occupied,” Bradshaw said. “It’s really the job of at least two people, maybe three people, if you consider the tech support that’s involved. But you have to try and do it on your own.” (para. 25-27).

None of the plans announced by Ontario prior to the start of the 2021-22 school year offered support, or even envisioned, the hybrid and concurrent models that are currently being used.

While the focus of this report – and the jurisdictional profiles that follow – are about the planning and preparation that occurred during the summer 2021, this report is being published during the first week of November it does allow for some evaluation of how ready different jurisdictions actually were. As described above, the preliminary feedback on the concurrent teaching model underway in Ontario does not bode well on its ability to transition into the Phase 4 or the ‘Emerging New Normal.’ Yet, the actions during the 2020-21 school year in both British Columbia and Nova Scotia showed encouraging signs towards this transition. More study is certainly called for and required across the country.

Given the epidemiological realities of the pandemic, anyone approaching the situation from a realistic perspective understands that the 2021-22 school year will be another year of toggling between various states of in-person and remote learning. With only two months into the current school year, we have already seen school closures and the need for remote learning due local and regional outbreaks from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia to the Northwest Territories (CBC News 2021a; Moore, 2021; Watson, 2021) – and everywhere in between (CBC News 2021c; CBC News 2021d; CBC News 2021e; The Canadian Press, 2021). It is hoped that some of the differences in policy and practice that emerged throughout the 2020-21 school year, and even those announced at the start of this new school year, will become guides for politicians and policymakers across the country as schools continue to grapple with the demands of another toggle school year.

However, it is also important for politicians and policymakers – as well as practitioners – to continue to keep an eye on the emerging new normal. While much of the remote learning provided over the past 18 months has been poorly supported and executed, there have been groups that have benefitted from learning in an online setting (Collins-Nelsen et al., 2021; Fernando, 2021; Miller, 2021). When parents/guardians are free to choose between in-person or online learning (or some combination of the two) without concern about their child’s health, what will the K-12 distance, online, and blended learning landscape look like? How will the remote learning lessons of the pandemic inform policy and practice in the future? What will politicians and policymakers take away from the past 18 months to guide short-term and long-term school closures during the next disaster? These questions highlight the need to continue this line of inquiry, as well as future research under consideration by CANeLearn.

To read more, click here for the full report.

The full project website is available at https://sites.google.com/view/canelearn-ert/


[1] For a detailed discussion of various hybrid student arrangements and configurations in the United State, see Arnett (2021).

November 23, 2021

Article – Study the role of hubris in nations’ COVID-19 response

So this one page article scrolled through my Twitter stream last week sometime.

Study the role of hubris in nations’ COVID-19 response

As an anthropologist who has studied disease outbreaks in Vietnam, I’ve been moved by the contrast between the experience of COVID-19 there and in the United States. By late April, my friends in Hanoi were posting pictures of celebrations and joyfully announcing “Social distancing is over!” I’m relieved that infection rates in Vietnam remain low, but their posts seem to come from a parallel universe as I and my family and friends in the United States continue to shelter in place.

To continue reading, click https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02596-8

While the one pager focuses mainly on how successful (or not) each country’s COVID response was in general, and the role that hubris played in that response, it got me thinking about what this might look like from an educational standpoint?

For example, some basic questions that come to mind…

  • What jurisdictions have actually done well in their educational response to COVID-19?  Do all parties agree?
  • What jurisdictions claims to have done well in their educational response to COVID-19, but practitioners disagree?
  • What jurisdictions simply haven’t done a good job at all in their educational response to COVID-19?  What happened in that all parties seem to agree that the situation was bad?

I’m sure there are other questions to ask – and I have a bunch others – but those are some general ones that come to mind.

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.