The challenges for Edmonton students learning online

EDMONTON — Many Edmonton families opted for online learning when classes resumed at the beginning of September, but some have been struggling with the technology.

“It’s not the fact that it’s online, it’s the nature of what’s happening online,” said Nadine Riopel, whose son, Sam, is learning Grade 2 from home.

She said his classes’ entire first lesson was on how to use the mute function on their group video chat application.

The required level of computer literacy required to navigate the courses and submit assignments has even been causing trouble for some of the parents, according to Riopel.

“There’s a woman in our meet who is having a really hard time with some of the tech aspects and we spend a good 5-10 minutes every morning listening to the teacher try to talk her through it … it’s a mess.”

Edmonton Public Schools, which Sam is in, said 28 per cent of its students were using online instruction as of September 10.

Riopel said she knows of some families who have been frustrated enough with the technological issues that they have pulled their children out of those classes completely.

“What they’re doing is just saying, ‘Forget this, we’re going to a charter school, we’re going to a private school, we’re going to home schooling, because we can afford to do that and they can offer us a better experience.’

“It’s really undermining the public system.”

One elementary education expert said that parents will have to accept that academics are going to take a hit while people adjust to the new normal.

“It really is a mess for all grade levels,” said Suzanna Wong, with the University of Alberta. “I think we need to just step back and be calm and say, ‘OK, the academic part may not be a priority right now.'”

Riopel will have the option to move Sam to in-person classes on or shortly after November 10, when the first quarter of the Edmonton Public School year ends. She said despite the hiccups online, it’s something she still will not consider due to Covid-19. 

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Dan Grummett

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