By Al Beeber on May 15, 2021.
Parents have until Monday to register their students for a pilot e-learning program being conducted by the Lethbridge School Division.
An e-learning program, said Board chair Christine Light Friday, is “flexible, innovative and accountable for engaging students in meaningful digital learning experiences where they can thrive within the school and broader community.”
The project was announced earlier this year and it is neither a response to COVID-19 nor the same program as the school division’s current online learning option.
The program will be offered to students in elementary, middle and high schools, the latter if enough register by Monday’s deadline.
The online learning option for elementary school students will delivered by teachers based at the new Dr. Robert Plaxton school which will open in south Lethbridge this fall while the middle school base will be Senator Joyce Fairbairn Middle School in Sunridge on the city’s westside. LCI will serve as the base for high school students.
According the school division’s website at laths.ab.ca, “considerations for acceptance into the program will include distribution of students across Lethbridge School Division, confirmation of technology requirements to participate fully in the program, as outlined in the application, as well as the commitment to adhere to expectations and requirements of the program, as outlined in the application.. . .”
“I think the past year during COVID, we’ve really seen that some students have thrived in the online format and we wanted to be able to give the opportunity to continue,” said Light.
Students will “have a connection with a teacher at that school and also have the opportunity to participate with other members of that school. So not only will be they be connected to a class community and their online class community, but will also be connected to the school community, Light said.
“So for example, middle school students can still participate in drama, they can still participate in part of that larger community and not just on their own. We’ll have teachers connecting with them daily.
“The benefit for high school students is we’re giving them flexibility so they’ll be able to attend full time” or do e-learning full time, Light said.
“They can also select the courses they would like to learn online and then be able to do the remainder at school.”
A link to the e-learning pilot project is on the home page of the school division’s website. There parents will find application forms for the programs at the various educational levels.
How students succeed at learning in an online setting depends upon the student, suggested Light.
“We all learn differently and this has really catapulted us to the online model and certainly there have been trials this past year and certainly there are students who just don’t connect as well through the online learning format, but I think there are students who have done exceptionally well and it’s interesting that . . .the feedback from students is they participate and are more confident in their engagement in an online setting.”
Students will be assigned to one online teacher in elementary and multiple in middle school. Daily attendance will be taken. Fridays will be half-days. The program will include “whole-group instruction, guided instruction as well as access to one-on-one teacher support,” says the website. Students may have to attend school occasionally for face-to-face meetings with their teacher.
“We want all our students to succeed,” said Light.
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