This announcement was originally posted on the State of the Nation: K-12 e-Learning in Canada website.


As we compile the research that goes into the annual State of the Nation: K-12 e-Learning in Canada report, this article from four years ago came to our attention again.

Exploring the Digital Divide: The Use of Digital Technologies in Ontario Public Schools

  • Bodong ChenUniversity of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Keywords: digital divide, learning technologies, technology integration, digital literacy, Canada

ABSTRACT

Combining data from a school principal survey with student demographics and achievement data, the present study aimed to develop a much needed understanding of ICT usage in Ontario’s K-12 public schools. Results indicated equitable first-order access to technology for schools, early integration of ICT from the earliest grades, frequent application of ICT in teaching, and an enabling effect of ICT on additional access to learning resources and distance learning. However, challenges were also uncovered in building technology infrastructure for a small fraction of schools; ensuring home access for schools with lower family incomes, smaller size or from remote regions; and providing teachers with professional development for choosing online materials and adopting emerging ICT-enabled teaching practice. Furthermore, this study highlighted the importance of parent involvement in ICT usage and the potential beneficial linkage between ICT usage and student learning achievement.

In reviewing the content once again, these sections were worth quoting:

ICT as an Enabler of Learning beyond the Classroom Walls (Level 2)

….

The Ontario e-Learning Strategy (see: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/elearning/strategy.html) was created to assist school boards with providing e-learning opportunities for students. One important component of this initiative was to offer e-learning credit courses, taught by e-learning teachers using the provincial Learning Management System, to students who could not be in the physical classroom to learn or wished to access courses during different periods of the day.

According to the analysis of P4E survey, 48% of Ontario secondary schools had students earning credits through e-learning. Schools participating in the survey reported a total of 2599 students were reported as having earned e-Learning credits, with 21 students on average for each school, accounting for 2.9% of their student populations. Further inspection found that smaller schools tended to have a higher percentage of students earning credits through e-learning. As southwest and northern regions tended to have smaller schools, schools in these regions were also more likely to have students earning credits through e-learning; compared to the 45% of schools in Toronto that reported having such students, the percentages for southwest and northern regions were respectively 63% and 52%. Thus, online learning appeared to be in demand for students from remote regions or from smaller schools which were less likely have certain unique learning opportunities.

…. (pp. 12-13)

Discussion and Conclusions

….

Almost half of Ontario’s secondary schools reported having at least one student earning credits through e-learning. Digital technologies played a role in expanding learning opportunities, especially for students in smaller schools and schools from remote areas. (p. 16)