Hamilton school boards set to tweak online learning

News May 14, 2020 by Richard Leitner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton’s public school board says Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s call for more “synchronous” — or live — online instruction isn’t altering its approach to home learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

Education director Manny Figueiredo said teachers were already blending lessons uploaded to the board’s digital platform, known as the Hub, with live interactions with students.

This included phone calls, texts, online chats, or live video or audio presentations, he said, with the form of communication depending on a teacher’s best judgment and technological capabilities.

Figueiredo said he’s heard more parental concerns about the use of different platforms and digital tools, and the board will standardize the virtual classroom by September, even if schools are open.

“We were encouraging (teachers) to do what they can. It didn’t have to be perfect. Just get out what you can to help parents and students, but there’s a lot less of that,” he said. “Every week we’re seeing improvement.”

Figueiredo said live online lessons are sometimes necessary, like for an intervention program helping primary students struggling to read, but can also create privacy and equity concerns.

Household circumstances may not allow all students to view a live lesson at a set time, for instance, while teachers may be looking after their own children and have legitimate concerns about sessions being secretly recorded, he said.

Figueiredo said the board can minimize the latter risk by only using the Hub, which has security controls and can block recording of lessons.

He said he is looking forward to the results of a recent online survey seeking feedback on student experiences with home learning, and will be monitoring progress on three academic priorities.

These include having all students reading by the end of Grade 1, improving Grade 6 math scores and raising the graduation rate.

“I think it would be unrealistic to say there will be no learning gaps despite the great efforts of our educators,” he said. “Our key is how do we respond to them in the fall.”

Figueiredo said the board has seen progress on one gap. It had been unable to reach about 1,000 of 50,000 students as of mid-April, since reduced to about 60.

“I’m really proud of that. I wish it was zero,” he said, noting the board is still trying to determine why the remaining students are absent.

Catholic board chair Pat Daly said most students there are participating in online learning, with similar challenges experienced by the public board, including use of digital platforms other than the board’s myClass.

He said a planned survey will consult students and parents on what is working and areas needing improvement, helping identify learning gaps and required adjustments.

“If it does move into the fall, I think everyone will have to ramp it up to another level,” Daly said. “Everyone has worked very, very hard to provide the highest level of learning and information we can at a time of unprecedented change.”

Cameron Prosic, a public school student trustee in Grade 12 at Bernie Custis Secondary School, said he’s struggled to stay engaged with online learning even though his calculus teacher, for instance, hosts voluntary daily chats for students needing help.

Already a critic of the Ford government’s move to require students to take two E-learning classes to graduate, he said the current form is even worse, although teachers and students are doing their best.

“I’m not super into online learning because I do need to speak to a teacher and kind of understand though multiple explanations,” Prosic said. “It’s kind of working, but I’m personally not a huge fan of it.”

Jeff Sorensen, president of the public board’s elementary teachers’ union local, said Lecce’s call for more real-time instruction seems intent on proving E-learning can work, but comes with “a minefield” of risks, including cyber bullying.

Unlike at school, he said, there’s no way to protect private details about teachers, students, special needs or family situations, like a parental drinking problem.

“We’re sitting in our houses. We have no idea what’s going on, on the other side of the phone line, so to speak,” Sorensen said. “You can’t un-quack the duck if something bad happens.”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: We wanted to see how Hamilton’s public and Catholic school boards are faring with home learning.

Hamilton school boards set to tweak online learning

Standard platforms among goals for September #learnfromhome

News May 14, 2020 by Richard Leitner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton’s public school board says Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s call for more “synchronous” — or live — online instruction isn’t altering its approach to home learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

Education director Manny Figueiredo said teachers were already blending lessons uploaded to the board’s digital platform, known as the Hub, with live interactions with students.

This included phone calls, texts, online chats, or live video or audio presentations, he said, with the form of communication depending on a teacher’s best judgment and technological capabilities.

Figueiredo said he’s heard more parental concerns about the use of different platforms and digital tools, and the board will standardize the virtual classroom by September, even if schools are open.

Related Content

“We were encouraging (teachers) to do what they can. It didn’t have to be perfect. Just get out what you can to help parents and students, but there’s a lot less of that,” he said. “Every week we’re seeing improvement.”

Figueiredo said live online lessons are sometimes necessary, like for an intervention program helping primary students struggling to read, but can also create privacy and equity concerns.

Household circumstances may not allow all students to view a live lesson at a set time, for instance, while teachers may be looking after their own children and have legitimate concerns about sessions being secretly recorded, he said.

Figueiredo said the board can minimize the latter risk by only using the Hub, which has security controls and can block recording of lessons.

He said he is looking forward to the results of a recent online survey seeking feedback on student experiences with home learning, and will be monitoring progress on three academic priorities.

These include having all students reading by the end of Grade 1, improving Grade 6 math scores and raising the graduation rate.

“I think it would be unrealistic to say there will be no learning gaps despite the great efforts of our educators,” he said. “Our key is how do we respond to them in the fall.”

Figueiredo said the board has seen progress on one gap. It had been unable to reach about 1,000 of 50,000 students as of mid-April, since reduced to about 60.

“I’m really proud of that. I wish it was zero,” he said, noting the board is still trying to determine why the remaining students are absent.

Catholic board chair Pat Daly said most students there are participating in online learning, with similar challenges experienced by the public board, including use of digital platforms other than the board’s myClass.

He said a planned survey will consult students and parents on what is working and areas needing improvement, helping identify learning gaps and required adjustments.

“If it does move into the fall, I think everyone will have to ramp it up to another level,” Daly said. “Everyone has worked very, very hard to provide the highest level of learning and information we can at a time of unprecedented change.”

Cameron Prosic, a public school student trustee in Grade 12 at Bernie Custis Secondary School, said he’s struggled to stay engaged with online learning even though his calculus teacher, for instance, hosts voluntary daily chats for students needing help.

Already a critic of the Ford government’s move to require students to take two E-learning classes to graduate, he said the current form is even worse, although teachers and students are doing their best.

“I’m not super into online learning because I do need to speak to a teacher and kind of understand though multiple explanations,” Prosic said. “It’s kind of working, but I’m personally not a huge fan of it.”

Jeff Sorensen, president of the public board’s elementary teachers’ union local, said Lecce’s call for more real-time instruction seems intent on proving E-learning can work, but comes with “a minefield” of risks, including cyber bullying.

Unlike at school, he said, there’s no way to protect private details about teachers, students, special needs or family situations, like a parental drinking problem.

“We’re sitting in our houses. We have no idea what’s going on, on the other side of the phone line, so to speak,” Sorensen said. “You can’t un-quack the duck if something bad happens.”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: We wanted to see how Hamilton’s public and Catholic school boards are faring with home learning.

Hamilton school boards set to tweak online learning

Standard platforms among goals for September #learnfromhome

News May 14, 2020 by Richard Leitner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton’s public school board says Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s call for more “synchronous” — or live — online instruction isn’t altering its approach to home learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

Education director Manny Figueiredo said teachers were already blending lessons uploaded to the board’s digital platform, known as the Hub, with live interactions with students.

This included phone calls, texts, online chats, or live video or audio presentations, he said, with the form of communication depending on a teacher’s best judgment and technological capabilities.

Figueiredo said he’s heard more parental concerns about the use of different platforms and digital tools, and the board will standardize the virtual classroom by September, even if schools are open.

Related Content

“We were encouraging (teachers) to do what they can. It didn’t have to be perfect. Just get out what you can to help parents and students, but there’s a lot less of that,” he said. “Every week we’re seeing improvement.”

Figueiredo said live online lessons are sometimes necessary, like for an intervention program helping primary students struggling to read, but can also create privacy and equity concerns.

Household circumstances may not allow all students to view a live lesson at a set time, for instance, while teachers may be looking after their own children and have legitimate concerns about sessions being secretly recorded, he said.

Figueiredo said the board can minimize the latter risk by only using the Hub, which has security controls and can block recording of lessons.

He said he is looking forward to the results of a recent online survey seeking feedback on student experiences with home learning, and will be monitoring progress on three academic priorities.

These include having all students reading by the end of Grade 1, improving Grade 6 math scores and raising the graduation rate.

“I think it would be unrealistic to say there will be no learning gaps despite the great efforts of our educators,” he said. “Our key is how do we respond to them in the fall.”

Figueiredo said the board has seen progress on one gap. It had been unable to reach about 1,000 of 50,000 students as of mid-April, since reduced to about 60.

“I’m really proud of that. I wish it was zero,” he said, noting the board is still trying to determine why the remaining students are absent.

Catholic board chair Pat Daly said most students there are participating in online learning, with similar challenges experienced by the public board, including use of digital platforms other than the board’s myClass.

He said a planned survey will consult students and parents on what is working and areas needing improvement, helping identify learning gaps and required adjustments.

“If it does move into the fall, I think everyone will have to ramp it up to another level,” Daly said. “Everyone has worked very, very hard to provide the highest level of learning and information we can at a time of unprecedented change.”

Cameron Prosic, a public school student trustee in Grade 12 at Bernie Custis Secondary School, said he’s struggled to stay engaged with online learning even though his calculus teacher, for instance, hosts voluntary daily chats for students needing help.

Already a critic of the Ford government’s move to require students to take two E-learning classes to graduate, he said the current form is even worse, although teachers and students are doing their best.

“I’m not super into online learning because I do need to speak to a teacher and kind of understand though multiple explanations,” Prosic said. “It’s kind of working, but I’m personally not a huge fan of it.”

Jeff Sorensen, president of the public board’s elementary teachers’ union local, said Lecce’s call for more real-time instruction seems intent on proving E-learning can work, but comes with “a minefield” of risks, including cyber bullying.

Unlike at school, he said, there’s no way to protect private details about teachers, students, special needs or family situations, like a parental drinking problem.

“We’re sitting in our houses. We have no idea what’s going on, on the other side of the phone line, so to speak,” Sorensen said. “You can’t un-quack the duck if something bad happens.”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: We wanted to see how Hamilton’s public and Catholic school boards are faring with home learning.