This week’s International Education News shares updates about how Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore are addressing the challenge of transitioning to online and distance learning in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Across Canada, provinces are preparing for online and distance learning to begin in late March or early April. In Alberta, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange released guidelines for “teacher-directed” learning. The guidelines include curriculum priorities and numbers of hours per week students should be expected to do school work by grade span. Alberta has also updated its provincial online resource library, LearnAlberta, which catalogues over 40,000 resources, lessons, references and full courses for students and teachers grade by grade and subject by subject. The library has been continually updated for more than a decade, and was recently updated with new materials in preparation for the shift to on-line and distance learning. In Ontario, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced a new e-learning website for high school students that will house “high-quality, made-in-Ontario math and literacy resources, created by Ontario-certified educators.” The website will host a set of online courses and, are being developed by the Ontario College of Teachers, an association of teachers in Ontario. There is also a website, TVO Mathify, where students can get one-on-one support in mathematics all day that will be staffed by Ontario teachers. Lecce said the province will rely on Television Ontario (TVO) to provide programming for younger students. It will provide lessons for students in kindergarten through grade 6, beginning next week. TVO will also provide access to YouTube channels offering STEM and literacy programs tied to the provincial curriculum as well as math and literacy games. Finally, a new website created by the education ministry provides additional resources to help parents work with their children, including the full K-12 curriculum.
New Zealand has closed all schools, tertiary providers and early learning centers for four weeks as the country implements a nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Schools have brought forward and extended their previously scheduled April holiday breaks and will now be closed from March 30 to April 14 in order to give teachers additional time to prepare for online learning. To help support the transition to distance learning, the Ministry of Education launched two websites – Learning from Home and Ki te Ao Mārama – that have resources for parents, caregivers, teachers and leaders spanning early learning through senior secondary. New materials will be added to these websites over the coming weeks. The ministry is also assessing students’ access to the internet and working to set up connections, particularly in areas with large populations of students from low socioeconomic status. Students without internet will be delivered hard copies of resources. Parents and caregivers are also being encouraged to contact their child’s school or teacher for support with learning resources. Read more from Radio New Zealand.
Educators in Hong Kong and Shanghai, which were among the first jurisdictions to close schools due to the coronavirus earlier this year, are beginning to reflect on the transition to on-line and distance learning. In Hong Kong, schools and teachers organize on-line learning based on guidance and instructional resources provided by the Education Development Bureau since early February. More than 80 percent of teachers surveyed by the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers reported spending more time preparing for online teaching and learning than for classroom-based teaching, and many reported difficulties interacting with students. Nonetheless, more than one-third expressed support for extending school closures past April 20, if needed. In Shanghai, lessons for primary school students are broadcast on public television daily, and students use an app to submit assignments to and communicate with their teachers. Teachers in Shanghai have cited some implementation challenges, including additional time spent preparing or grading online assignments and the limited time for teacher professional learning and planning due to the quick transition. Read more from the South China Morning Post and NPR WBFO.