The most effective, successful professionals are constantly learning, they take the time to apply what they have learned, and they continually work to improve themselves.Joel Gardner, digital learning technologist
As I continue my transition from the classroom of the brick and mortar school towards the burgeoning dominion of online or virtual learning , I am (slowly) learning its structural and pedagogical nuances, and its position in public education.
- The terms homeschooling and home learning are often used interchangeably throughout the public education sphere; there is often confusion among parents and educators on how to define these terms.
- In British Columbia, the term ‘home learning’ comes under the newly renamed ‘Online Learning’ framework.
- The Ministry of Education defines homeschooling as “an educational program provided to a child by a parent, not under the supervision or direction of a BC certified teacher or Letter of Permission holder employed by a Board or Authority. Homeschooling is not the same as online learning.“
- A vast majority of online learning parents still refer to themselves as ‘home schooling’ families.
- Online learning is an umbrella term for any learning that takes places across distance outside of the traditional brick and mortar classroom.
- Variations of online learning may include student participation based entirely through a learning management system (LMS) or a non-digital mode of learning support. Other online learning-related programs offer in-personal (offline) opportunities for student participation with a teacher and online peers.
- The parents of online learners are often fierce advocates for the learning opportunities available to their children; they relish flexibility and creativity that online learning provides.
- Online learning is an important choice that a family makes; it requires a substantial commitments of time and resources, an unfailing resourcefulness, and an unlimited patience and compassion.
- There is a growing number of online families expecting opportunities for social-emotional learning; regular opportunities for their children to interact with others.
- Learning opportunities are diverse since flexibility of learning allows travelling during the non-busy times of the year and makes learning part of their everyday household routine.
- Online learning is a recognized alternative to traditional brick and mortar (or face to face) learning opportunities. The Ministry of Education notes that “[a]ctive participation in online learning is equivalent to attendance in a school as defined in the School Act. Boards of Education/Independent School Authorities must have evidence of active participation to be funded by the Ministry for an online learning course or program”.
- Limits exist for non-traditional schooling opportunities in British Columbia; students are entitled to enroll in Grades K-9 may either enroll in an educational program with a board of education or independent school authority or may register for homeschooling at any school in the province, but not both.
- Similarly, a “person entitled to enroll in Grades 10 through 12 may register for homeschooling at any school in the province, and at the same time be enrolled as a student for course(s) in one or more online learning schools or program in certain circumstances. A person who enrolls in a Grade 10 through 12 course offered through a standard school cannot also register as a homeschooler.” (BC Ministry of Education, 2021)
- I still have much to learn and understand about online learning. I am continually humbled as a professional always curious about learning, teaching, and education
eLearning is changing. And, we will see new models, new technologies and designs emerge. So, let’s drop the “e” – or at least give it a new and wider definition.Elliot Masie, digital educational technologist