The virtual school in Ontario: far ahead of the Quebec

L’école virtuelle en Ontario: très loin devant le Québec

In Ontario, since Monday, teachers teach every day to their students through a screen, correct the work at a distance and prepare to make newsletters. Quite a contrast with Quebec, where the parents are rather encouraged to do revision with their children on a voluntary basis.

Caroline Cantin Young teaches a class of first and second year of school, Chantal Benedict, located in southern Ontario. Since 6 April, it goes every morning 30 minutes with them on the screen via the platform Teams.

“It is going quite well, they are impressive”, she says.

Between 12: 30 and 13: 30, she then did the coaching with some students. The teacher is also available later in the afternoon, for 30 minutes, to answer questions from parents.

Alone in the house during the day with her two children of 6 and 10 years of age, she has “worked like crazy” in the last few days to put everything in place. “I have shed tears this week”, she says, while saying, however, happy to have found her students daily.

Teachers at work

All the teachers of its school board have a schedule that is similar to, arising out of the directives of the ministry of Education (see box). The formulas vary from one school board to another. Generally, students participate in virtual classrooms and need to do work to the house that they deliver to their teachers. They will evaluate over the next few weeks.

For the high school students who work per semester, a written mid-session must even be produced of here on the 23rd of April, says the department.

During this time, the Québec relies on the revision of the concepts already learned through a teaching kit fun sent each week by e-mail or by post. The realization of these activities is optional. No new material is taught, and no evaluation is planned.

Many challenges

The ontario model, the polar opposite of what goes on in Quebec, but there are nevertheless a lot of challenge. Both on the side of teachers, students and parents, it has been necessary to quickly familiarize themselves with this new reality.

“It’s a big adjustment, but the teachers are very present, it is fortunate,” says Josée Michaud, a mother of three children who is at home, deprived of his livelihood.

“But for parents who work at the same time, I can’t imagine how they do that”, she adds.

Teachers who themselves have children at home, working hard to make it all work.

Even if it rises for several days at 5: 30am each morning, Caroline Cantin Young is not satisfied with the education that she is able to do it online and the impression of “abandon its own children”.

In addition to families who do not have access to a computer or a high speed Internet connection (see other text), several concern the gap could be even greater for students in difficulty, who are not all present in front of the screen.

“There are students who will fall between the cracks, that’s for sure,” says Cindy Savard, a French immersion teacher in a secondary school, Ottawa.

At the conseil scolaire Viamonde, 80% of the students were present during the virtual meetings, which began this week, said.

“We would have preferred that it was 100%, but we will continue to communicate with the families over the next few days to get there,” says his superintendent of education, Sylvie Longo.

Number of hours of work per student in Ontario

K 3e YEAR

  • 5 hours of work per week
  • Literacy and mathematical

4e 6e YEAR

  • 5 hours of work per week
  • Literacy, math, science and social studies

7e and 8e YEAR

  • 10 hours of work per week
  • Literacy, math, science and social studies

9e 12e YEAR

  • 3 hours of work per week per subject (4 classes per semester)
  • All courses are taught in order to obtain credits towards the secondary school diploma

♦ The schools are closed until the 1st of may here in Ontario, as in Quebec, until further order.

Source : ministry of Education, Ontario

Computers delivered to the door

Computers delivered to the house, free Internet access and financial assistance for the purchase of educational materials : the government of ontario and its network of school do not spare their efforts to ensure that each student can continue to learn at a distance.

At the Academie Alexandre-Dumas, a francophone elementary school, Toronto, director Audrey Allard has submitted Tuesday computers to a dozen families who did not have at home, respecting the measures of social distancing.

“Currently, the rate of absence (the virtual classroom) is very low. There is only one to two students per class who are not there and it will happen in the next few days,” says Ms. Allard.

At the conseil scolaire Viamonde, a wireless Internet access has also been made available in the vicinity of schools to allow parents who do not have a connection at home to connect in order to download the school supplies needed.

The sessions of virtual classes can be viewed offline, if it is not possible to participate live.

On the side of the Toronto board of education, the largest in Ontario, it is estimated to deliver 28 000 computers, laptops and tablets to families who need it by 14 April.

In addition, the ontario government announced this week an aid of$ 200 per child 12 years and under) for the purchase of equipment to foster learning at home.

Josée Michaud, a mother of twins who are fifth-year, account to make use of it to buy a second computer at home.

Already in advance

In addition, several teachers in ontario were already familiar with the platforms of online teaching before the health crisis.

In Ontario, training to distance for secondary students has been developed on a large scale as early as the turn of the years 2000, indicates Cathia Papi, a professor at the TÉLÉ.

Online teaching is also a part of the preferred orientations by the government of Doug Ford. In the context of negotiations with teachers, who have been suspended because of the health crisis, Queen’s Park wanted to force school students to take two online courses during their training, a measure which opposed the teachers unions.

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