Professional educators had to go into emergency mode given COVID-19 intrusion into our lives. The seventh report of this series focuses on emergency remote learning (ERT) in Canadian provinces and territories to assure the continuity of learning in the Spring of 2020 and after. As stressed in the short summary of the UNESCO’s (2021) report Reimagining our Futures Together, the pandemic has highlighted our fragility and interconnectedness.
First, I want to recognize the collective endeavour of teachers from all over Canada in creating environments in which learners’ experience is enriched given how they make use of digital networked platforms and tools. Their work has advanced the Vision of Learners in the 21st Century from the early days of SchoolNet Canada (1996) and TeleLearning Network of Centres of Excellence from 1995-2002. We have come a long way; at the same time our goals have greatly expanded given the competencies required to face the problems that are surfacing. As we all know, Covid variants are only one of them.
Second, I want to recognize the organizers of this series for documenting this emotional and turbulent COVID period of Canadian K-12 formal education. The distinction the authors emphasized between ERT and elearning/online learning is key. To counter the risk that ERT will influence teachers negatively (adhesion or revulsion), let’s make visible, and move beyond, our best practices when it comes to the use of digital tools for learning inside and outside the brick-and-mortar classroom.
For instance, students from Ontario teamed up with a novice farmer in Nova Scotia to engage in Knowledge for Public Good: Innovating for Sustainability Around the World. Their work complemented that of teachers, students, and partners in China, Singapore, and USA, as elaborated in the Knowledge Building Collaboratory (2022). This provides a context for understanding students’ contributions to authentic problems and design advances.
In Francophone Quebec, the Remote Networked School initiative (École éloignée en réseau), now the Networked School initiative (École en réseau, ÉER)1, has a long practice of connecting teachers and their classrooms for learning and knowledge building purposes. When ERT became a must, ÉER’s practical knowledge was put to use in a course offered to all teachers by Université TELUQ.2 Moreover, it adapted its own practice to reach a much greater number of students. The ÉER is also a partner of the PERISCOPE3 network, which is currently suggesting peer tutoring along with the tutoring initiative put forward by the Ministry of Education to counter Covid’s undesirable effects. In the report growing out of a Quebec-wide consensus conference4 conducted in 2021-2022 by CTREQ,5 “Equity and added value in the use of the digital for teaching and learning”, the last sentence will read as follows: “For sure, digital use must foster student engagement and participation in a way that put forward thought and ideas.”
Thérèse Laferrière, Professor
To register for the CANeLearn Leadership Summit on September 16 and receive an advance copy of this report, visit https://sites.google.com/view/leadershipsummit/home