Over the past two years, our lead researchers have joined with researchers from the Canadian eLearning Network (CANeLearn) to examine the response across Canada that jurisdictions had to the implementation of remote learning due to the pandemic (see CANeLearn’s Pandemic Pedagogy Research Site). To date, this research initiative has produced six reports (if you include the report published by this site entitled Understanding Pandemic Pedagogy: Differences Between Emergency Remote, Remote, and Online Teaching). Many of those reports have simply documented what was provided – or even what officials in each jurisdictions claimed was provided through news releases and media stories – to support remote learning. However, the most recent report – Pandemic Pedagogy in Canada: Lessons from the First 18 Months – has begun to examine how effective those responses were to supporting remote learning.
One of the aspects that this latest report suggests is examining how well individual jurisdictions used the existing e-learning infrastructure to support remote learning. In theory, a province or territory that had existing course content or human resources that were geographically dispersed was in a better position to support remote learning than a jurisdiction where those things didn’t exist.
Yesterday, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador issued a news release entitled “Expanding Online Learning Supports Available Through Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation.” Those individuals who are familiar with our annual reports will know from the Newfoundland and Labrador profile that the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI) has the asynchronous course content developed for around 45 different high school courses. Further, according to our annual report “the CDLI allowed any provincial educator (i.e., including classroom teachers) to register in their portal and use the CDLI’s asynchronous course materials with their face-to-face students.”
If you look at CANeLearn’s pandemic pedagogy series, there is no mention of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador or the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (which operates the CDLI) making this asynchronous course content available to teachers throughout the province – at least not prior to the 26 January 2022 announcement. For example:
- see pp. 11-12 in the CANeLearn report on the Spring 2020 closures, where the CDLI is briefly referenced
- see p. 10 in the CANeLearn report into the Fall 2020 re-opening plans, which has no mention of the CDLI at all
- see p. 11 in the CANeLearn report into the response throughout the 2020-21 school year, where there is no reference to the CDLI being used at all
- see pp. 16-18 in the CANeLearn report that summarizes the pandemic response up to an including the Fall 2021 re-opening, which one again has no mention of the CDLI being used as a resource to support remote learning
However, the “Expanding Online Learning Supports Available Through Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation” news release states:
High school students and their families are reminded that they can access online resources through CDLI to assist with self-directed learning. Learning resources and course review materials are available for over 40 high school courses in a range of curriculum areas, including mathematics, sciences, English and French languages, technology education, social studies, skilled trades, and fine arts. All high school students are encouraged to create an account at www.cdli.ca.
The creation of high quality asynchronous online learning content has been one of the main challenges in all jurisdictions. Teachers through their university courses are trained to be able to design and deliver content via an in person setting. Asking them to design their own online content with no background on instructional design or multimedia skills, and little formal preparation in curriculum planning, has resulted in a lot of poor quality content. This is not the fault of the teachers! I know how to drive a car- I took a youth driving class and now I have almost three decades of experience. Even if all I was asked to do was taxi down the runway, I’m confident that I don’t know how to drive an airplane – and if forced to do so I’m sure I’d do a poor job of it.
Give these realities, isn’t 26 January 2022 a little late to be emphasizing the availability of online, asynchronous course content for students and teachers? Wouldn’t this kind of announcement been better back in April 2020 – or at any point in the preceding 22 months?
These questions raise the issue of why these resources haven’t been made available sooner? Why haven’t these resources been publicized sooner? It speaks to a failure of the government to leverage the existing e-learning infrastructure to effectively support the provision of remote learning over the past two years.