Technology a challenge for some Edmonton students learning online

EDMONTON — Many Edmonton families opted for online learning when classes resumed at the beginning of September, but some have been struggling with the technology.

Children returning to school in person have had to adjust to new habits like physical distancing, masks, and daily screening, but there are different challenges for students learning from home.

“It’s not the fact that it’s online, it’s the nature of what’s happening online,” said Nadine Riopel, whose son, Sam, is learning Grade 2 from home.

She said his entire first lesson was on how to use the mute function.

The required level of computer literacy and necessary technical skills has even been causing trouble for some of the parents, according to Riopel.

“There’s a woman in our meet who is having a really hard time with some of the tech aspects and we spend a good 5-10 minutes every morning listening to the teacher try to talk her through it … it’s a mess.”

The public school system, which Sam is in, has 28 per cent of its students using online learning.

Riopel said she knows of some families who have been frustrated enough with the technological issues that they have pulled their children out of those schools.

“What they’re doing is just saying, ‘Forget this, we’re going to a charter school, we’re going to a private school, we’re going to home schooling, because we can afford to do that and they can offer us a better experience.’

“It’s really undermining the public system.”

One elementary education expert said that parents will have to accept that academics are going to take a hit while people adjust to the new normal.

“It really is a mess for all grade levels,” said Suzanna Wong, with the University of Alberta. “I think we need to just step back and be calm and say, ‘OK, the academic part may not be a priority right now.'”

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Dan Grummett

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