What I Learned About ‘Online Learning’ in British Columbia

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.

  1. 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.
  2. In British Columbia, the term ‘home learning’ comes under the newly renamed ‘Online Learning’ framework.
  3. 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.
  4. A vast majority of online learning parents still refer to themselves as ‘home schooling’ families.
  5. Online learning is an umbrella term for any learning that takes places across distance outside of the traditional brick and mortar classroom.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. There is a growing number of online families expecting opportunities for social-emotional learning; regular opportunities for their children to interact with others.
  10. 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.
  11. 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”.
  12. 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.
  13. 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)
  14. 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

JY

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