Ontario new e-learning credits
Graffiti May Issue 2022
“Ontario introduces two mandatory e-learning credits for the classes of 2024 and 2025 as a new graduation requirement to “promote digital literacy.””
Jack Wolkove (Copy Editor)
On March 30, 2022, the TDSB sent out an email to guardians and students informing of changes in student graduation requirements. For students who started grade 9 on or after September 1, 2020, two of thirty credits needed for graduation will have to be “e-learning” credits, though exceptions can be made. The email states that “online learning supports the development of digital literacy and other transferable skills that will help prepare students for success after graduation.”
This can be found in your TDSB email inbox, but there is more to this situation that can be found pre-pandemic, in 2019. The original plan was to have four mandatory e-learning credits for high school students, along with the other changes to schooling of yore (larger class sizing and banning of phones in classrooms). After pushback, the Ontario government agreed to settle for two e-credits. Despite this agreement, in the year to come, all students were subjected to mandatory online learning. Through this, online learning gained a reputation for being unmanageable, unenjoyable, and unbearable to many students.
While this new implementation may seem shocking, perhaps even ironic, after what students have gone through in the past two years, the reasoning itself seems to be illogical. The reason two years ago remains the reason for this new requirement today: “promoting digital literacy.” The claim? That Ontario students will be better equipped to handle the fast paced world of technology if two courses of our secondary education require the use of technology. According to the Government of Ontario, “digital literacy involves the ability to solve problems using technology in a safe, legal, and ethically responsible manner.” However, after learning online during COVID-19, many students have already concluded that it is perhaps not the best, and definitely not the only tool for digital literacy, at least not for all students.
Although learning how to navigate the world through technology is important, it cannot be ignored that mandatory online learning may not promote safe problem solving and can very much promote problem solving skills that are unethical. Issues such as cheating, being absent from school, and paying attention to what’s being taught are often exacerbated by online learning environments.
Still, going from no online classes to only online classes is much different than having two online courses throughout the entirety of high school. Though we have hindsight now into how e-learning can be, a source from before the pandemic can provide us with a pre-online education perspective. In an interview with CBC from pre-pandemic discussions about the topic, Beyhan Farhadi, a former teacher said “The purpose of public education is to promote social cohesion and develop students who are going to transition into caring adults. I think it matters that I’m in the classroom.”
When asked about the mandatory e-learning credits, an NT English teacher said, “I find that students, first of all, don’t take online and virtual courses as seriously as in person courses, and they only work for students who are generally more organized and able to work independently.” Several NT students agreed that online courses are not the best course of action. One student felt that “the existence of the new… courses is stupid,” and “they came up with it out of nowhere, and it is optional, so they basically made it useless.”Another student was not aware of the new requirements existence. There was further inquiry, as once the student was informed they said, “technically, if we’re in grade 10, and if our entire grade 9 year was online, does that count?” While there were parts of the year that were in person, the last quadmester was entirely online, meaning two of the credits in the 2020-2021 school year were completed digitally.
With that information being taken into account, questions remain as to how this new mandate will be implemented. The plan seems to ignore the real issues and problems, only focusing on maintaining an image of educational excellency provincewide. Online learning does have merits, and should be an available option to students who need or want it, but digital literacy is not simply the practice of learning on a device. Instead, it is the ability to find a balance and ensure that students’ are receiving the best education that they can.