Ontario is a vast and large province with the majority of the land mass being rural and remote. Technology in these areas and especially in Northern Ontario are far less ubiquitous, and access to broadband is either not physically available, or prohibitively expensive.
On April 15th, 2020, we hosted a roundtable on these issues to collectively talk about the current struggles and what solutions might be available for students in these areas at this time.
Joining us on the roundtable were representatives of northern providers, Child and Community Resources (CCR), One Kids Place ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Treatment Centre, Four Directions Autism, rural provider Lanark Community Programs, as well as internet provider, Xplornet Communications.
One of things that really came out of this roundtable, is that we cannot assume all students have access to technology or access to appropriate broadband internet. One of the recommendations that was made, is that various level of governments need to step up their funding of remote and rural broadband. Significantly more than is being done right now. Whether its direct funding of building the infrastructure and continuing to subsidize its maintenance and operating costs. Or directly subsidizing the families cost of internet services (like we do somewhat with Hydro)
We also need to look at alternative delivery options that don’t rely on technology, whether its textbooks, worksheets, and telephone checkins from teachers.
I will be sending a letter to the Minister of Education, Steven Lecce with these recommendations.
You can now watch the recording of that roundtable here.
If you have any feedback about your experiences with eLearning and Distance Education in the Rural, Remote and Northern areas of Ontario during this pandemic, please leave it here.