It is with great pleasure that I write a foreword for this incredibly relevant and timely report chronicling the state of face-to-face, hybrid, and remote teaching across Canada during the 2020-21 school year. As we move into what seems likely to be a third year of schooling disrupted by the continued COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that we learn from our experiences over the past year in order to better prepare ourselves for what lies ahead.
While previous reports in this series documented the cross-Canada responses to the initial few months of emergency remote teaching as well as the state of K-12 education in the Fall of 2020, this new report offers us an overall picture of our first full year of pandemic schooling. And while we might hope for a return to normalcy in the upcoming school year, the fact remains that we are staring down the barrel of a year that promises to be very similar to last, so the best thing we can do is learn from our successes and failures of the past 12 months.
As teachers across the country return to their classrooms to prepare for the arrival of students in a few short days, those in positions of power should be studying reports such as this one to glean insight into what we might do to ensure that remote learning, if and when it comes, is a successful and well-planned endeavour. For instance, and perhaps most unsurprisingly, the data in the pages that follow confirms that districts with robust pre-existing e-learning programs and solid Ministerial support fared best over the past year, while those without existing systems in place struggled. If we are lucky, Ministries of Education across the country will take this evidence as a catalyst for the rapid funding, development, and shoring up of permanent (rather than emergency) provincial and territorial e-learning programs in order to avoid being caught unprepared, again, for a mid-year shift in learning modalities. Forewarned is forearmed, as the old saying goes.
Dr. Alec Couros
Director, Centre for Teaching & Learning
Professor, Educational Technology and Media
University of Regina