On August 13 of his year, the Ontario Ministry of Education released Policy/Program Memorandum No. 164, referred to by the short form: PPM 164. It defines “remote”, “synchronous” and “asynchronous” learning. And it addresses seven areas:
- minimum requirements for engaging students during remote learning
- minimum requirements for synchronous learning
- process for exemption from synchronous learning
- protocols for delivering remote learning
- access to remote learning devices – such as laptops or tablets – and the Internet
- standardized suite of synchronous learning platforms
- cyber security, privacy, and online safety
It requires synchronous learning any time a student is at home more than three days in a week, and specifies the length of time that teachers should be providing synchronous instruction:
|Secondary||Grades 9 to 12||The higher of 60 minutes for each 75-minute class period** or 225 minutes per day for a full course schedule|
And it specifies that “synchronous learning platforms should include live video, audio, and chat features and be fully accessible”.
While many of our teachers who were teaching in the spring have developed facility with our synchronous learning platforms, Brightspace or Google Classroom with MS Teams or Google Meet, many of our long-term occasional and short-term occasional teachers have not. Most found themselves unemployed during the shutdown. So they are beginning this school year with workplace demands that they have had neither training for, nor experience with.
Having accepted a position they are now working from home, without the support of “the teacher in the next classroom”, and are struggling. There is an option to have them work from a local school, but there are few spaces available as we spread out our students in our “bricks and mortar” schools.
Our challenge now is to ensure that they are supported, and that they don’t become overwhelmed. I have begun this by connecting each teacher with others who teach the same course. I have shared our Empowering Modern Learning resources, created by our central staff. And I am now brainstorming ways in which will be able to provide professional learning opportunities that will work for our teachers, within the intense, draining workday they are experiencing.
If you are one of our online teachers, and have any suggestions for how we might provide this professional learning, please connect with us and share your ideas. You are working differently, and so must we.