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New Year, New Aspirations, and Old Challenges

Posted: January 4th, 2021, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

The hardest mountain to climb is the one within. (J. Lynn)

Today is the first day of the winter term in 2021. As always, early January is the time for new aspirations, new hopes, and new resolutions. This year is no different even if sometimes it feels like everything is different now. I would argue that at least in the context of teaching many of the challenges we are currently facing are the same we faced in the past years but failed to acknowledge.

For example, while teaching online or face-to-face, we have to think how to make it interesting, relevant and engaging for our students. We have to think what tools we can use to involve the students, what questions to ask, what problems to discuss… We have to think about student collaboration and the balance between individual and group work. It would be naïve to believe that we have resolved all these problems in the past and now the challenges of online education are completely new.

I think online education has forced us to face the “elephant in the room” that has been present for a while – student disengagement in learning. With all the challenges and uncertainties of the current situation, I think it will bring some positive outcomes to our education system. I have at least five reasons to believe so:

1) In order to convert our face-to-face courses to online platforms, we had to invest in teaching in terms of our course design. This is always a worthwhile investment and I think this refreshed many of the courses we teach. Teachers in K-12 and post-secondary classrooms had to invest heavily into their learning environments, re-considering the pedagogies they had been taking for granted for years…

2) We had to learn new technologies that can be used in an online classroom. And I do not mean “Zoom” or some other platforms. I mean educational technologies that can be used to engage students remotely. For example, smartphone apps, computer simulations, collaborative technologies, etc. Many of these technologies allow students to choose their own pace of learning. This is something that was hard to implement before. For example, if a lecture is recorded, one can watch it a number of times and then ask specific questions relevant to a particular part of the lecture. Students can also watch lectures created by other professors. Of course it assumes that the students are interested in learning. This is an even bigger issue in online classrooms…

3) We had to acknowledge that effective teaching and learning require significant investment of time and effort from both the instructors and the students. As a result, school and university administrators began actively investing into professional development of their staff. Moreover, many educators who were skeptical about new pedagogies and pedagogical innovations had no choice but to consider them. Some of them were surprised with the result. This is what I heard from a colleague regarding online education and their experience with it: “As a former critic of teaching online – for years I found the concept oxymoronic – my experience this term has changed my mind.” I believe many other post-secondary educators will agree.

4) We realized that online education has its advantages. By learning online, many of the traditional roadblocks had been removed. For example, many instructors were able to invite inspirational speakers to their classrooms who would not have been able to come before. Thus the students had an opportunity to interact with these wonderful speakers. The instructors were able to incorporate the resources created by others and support students who were learning at different speeds. Yet, the online learning environment increases the gap between the students who are motivated to learn and the students who aren’t. So while some students were able to thrive, many fell behind because they had to assume responsibility for their own learning. This is something many of our students are not yet ready to do.

5) Many teachers and educators reached out to the larger community and joined international networks of professionals facing similar problems in their classrooms. The proliferation of online events helped increase the engagement of instructors and teachers. Thus, it facilitated the connections and support network that transcended the school or even the country borders.

All in all, I expect this year to see a lot of positive outcomes in how our students are engaged in learning. I also hope these positive shifts will stay with us beyond 2021. I would like to wish our teachers, students and their families a productive and successful 2021!

New STEM Videos on our STEM Videos for All Channel

Posted: December 14th, 2020, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

This year my Physics Methods course, as most of other courses on UBC campus moved online. I have to say that with all its challenges, it was a positive experience for me. I think I was able to interact with my students as much as we did during our Face-2-Face courses. We also discussed interesting physics, invited very famous physics teachers in BC to visit our classes virtually and share their experiences with the students. Mrs. Philip Freeman, Kelvin Dueck’s and Joe Muise workshops on physics teaching were an outstanding opportunity that would unlikely to happen if not for online courses.

There was also another benefit of this experience. My students – future physics teachers – were motivated to learn how to use online resources effectively. They created excellent short videos with ideas of physics experiments one can do at home. We are sharing them on our YouTube channel!

Finally, I am confident that our future physics teachers will be ready to teach physics F2F, online or in a blended mode in the future. I would like to wish them all the very best for their long practicum and beyond!

The Half Glass Full of the Current Situation

Posted: December 7th, 2020, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

While it is clear to everybody that a current situation with the COVID-19 is troublesome, we cannot ignore the positive outcomes that came with the necessity of learning how to teach online. For example, in recent months, I took part in many amazing online seminars and workshops that were only possible because now we all are much more open to online meetings, as well as online teaching and learning.

For example, on Saturday, December 5, 2020 my friends at BC Association of Physics Teachers (www.bcapt.ca) and I organized an online seminar where we showed how we can do hands-on activities with simple materials that are dedicated to the upcoming holidays. Almost 30 science educators from all over British Columbia attended our event. It took only a moment to log in and the rest of the day remained opened, while this was a fantastic opportunity to learn and meet new teachers from all across the province. This was a fantastic opportunity where we could learn from each other, become inspired and come up with new ideas for our classrooms.

Moreover, now lots of teachers and students can watch it and do these activities themselves. And this is not the same as watching YouTube video, even the great ones, such as this one below:

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To watch our online workshop on the Holiday Physics Activities, please click here.

And to learn more about other opportunities, join the BC Association of Physics Teachers: www.bcapt.ca 

Mentorship matters: In memory of Dr. Gordon Gore

Posted: November 18th, 2020, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

A number of years ago I read a book by one of my favourite authors – Mitch Albom, “The  Five  People You  Meet  in Heaven”.  One of the themes of this book is that some people we encounter in our lives make a profound impact on us independently if we realized that at the time or not. For me, one such a person was and is Dr. Gordon Gore, who passed away on November 11, 2020. I have never met him in person, yet we have exchanged emails and small gifts for the last number of years. Every winter, I would receive a nice Christmas card or a calendar with the most beautiful picture of his.

I have heard of Gordon for the first time when on behalf of the BC Association of Physics Teachers I congratulated him with an award for his contributions to physics teaching. Then we began corresponding. He has been such an inspirational, knowledgeable and yet modest and open-minded person that I didn’t realize to the fullest how lucky I was to have such a serendipitous encounter. Gordon’s passion for physics teaching, his deep knowledge of physics both theoretical and experimental, his generosity, his sense of humour were incredible. I know many generations of physics teachers consider him their Teacher.

He also was an amazing photographer – his pictures of nature, of the full moon, of birds, brought happiness and the sense of wonder to many of us. However, most incredibly, he had an endless patience and generosity towards other teachers and of course students. I met a few students who decided to become physics teachers thanks to Gordon, as these students were able to visit Big Little Science Centre in Kamloops and fell in loves with hands-on science. Many of us have asked him for advice and he would always try to help.  He has been deeply respected by BC physics teachers and students.

Dr. Gordon Gore (1937-2020)

Later, I realized that the physics methods course I have been teaching for 10 years (EDCP 357) now is the course originally taught and envisioned by Gordon. Gordon has been teaching science methods courses at UBC in the 70s. He has been a master of hands-on science teaching and he was able to pass it on to his students many of whom became science teacher. He also co-founded Big Little Science Centre in Kamloops – a science museum for young and older. And the physics textbooks he had written have been used by thousands of students all across British Columbia. He would share his textbooks with my students – future physics teachers every year. We appreciated it very much.

Gordon Gore’s photograph of the Kamloops Golf Course

I am so grateful I had an opportunity to meet Gordon. I know he is one of the people who had an incredible impact on me and I hope on my students. I will miss him… RIP Dr. Gordon Gore – a very inspirational mentor to me and to many BC Physics Teachers. You will be missed, but your passion for life and for physics teaching and learning will live on.

Special Issue: Towards a Sustainable Future through innovative STEM Education

Posted: October 30th, 2020, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

Dear STEM Education researchers, educators, teachers and students:

We are very excited to announce a Call for Papers in the new special issue of MDPI journal. Please read the information below.

Special Issue “Towards a Sustainable Future through Innovative STEM Education”

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section “Sustainable Education and Approaches“.

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2021.

Prof. Dr. Maija Aksela Website
Guest Editor
LUMA Science Helsinki, Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Interests: science education; STEM education; sustainability education; teacher education; student-centred education; ICT education; non-formal and informal education and co-design
Prof. Dr. Marina Milner-Bolotin Website
Guest Editor
Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
Interests: STEM education; educational technology; teacher education
Dr. Sakari Tolppanen Website
Guest Editor
School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, University of Eastern Finland, 80130 Joensuu, Finland
Interests: STEM education; educational technology; teacher education

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The world is changing, and education needs to change with it. The aim of this Special Issue, “Towards a Sustainable Future through Innovative STEM Education” is to provide understanding on how innovative STEM education can engage and empower students towards sustainability in a changing world.

This Special Issue will especially focus on novel ways (e.g., pedagogical solutions and models) to promote sustainability through formal, non-formal, and informal education from early childhood to post-secondary school as well as in pre-service and in-service teacher education. The exploration of the STEM and sustainability education nexus will allow the exploration of topics relevant to many 21st century educators. For example, to address such questions as:

How can STEM education contribute to solving sustainability issues (e.g., climate change and the COVID crisis)?

How can we educate students to solve real-life problems using STEM knowledge in a sustainable way?

How can innovative technologies help us in the context of sustainable STEM education?

How can we educate future STEM teachers and teachers to incorporate sustainability issues in their teaching practices?

Prof. Dr. Maija Aksela
Prof. Dr. Marina Milner-Bolotin
Dr. Sakari Tolppanen
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI’s English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • STEM education
  • sustainability education
  • climate change
  • ICT education
  • educational technology
  • teacher education

This special issue is now open for submission.

CATALYST 2020 BC Science Teachers Conference

Posted: October 25th, 2020, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

This Friday, I was invited to take part in the BC Science Teachers’ Association Annual Conference, called Catalyst. This is an annual gathering of science teachers from all across British Columbia. Usually, most of the teachers come from the Lower Mainland as the conference often happens here. However, this year it was an online conference and the results were astounding!

This year the conference was organized online for the first time in its history (at least, this is what I know) and the result was very surprising. At least, I didn’t expect the participation to increase at least twice as compared to the previous years. I was also very pleased to see so many new teachers and teacher-candidates attending the event. I also didn’t expect the conference to attract this level of participants and of presenters. For example, BC Association of Physics Teachers has lead one of the conference tracks. In it, we had a presentation by Katie Mack – a theoretical cosmologist and Assistant Professor at Carolina State University. The level of her presentation was unbelievable. We had almost 200 people participating in it and the questions were coming from the floor at a higher rate than what you would expect in a regular event.

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Then we had a very engaging presentation by the Perimeter Institute Outreach Team. Towards the end of the day we also had a presentation by outstanding BC physics teachers who shared their experiences (both good and bad) of teaching physics.

It was a very productive and exciting day. I hope that it opened new opportunities for us to reach out to teachers all across the province and even far beyond. Teaching science has no borders, so why our professional development should? I am very excited by this day and I am very proud of the engagement of our science teachers. Most importantly, I am very grateful to John Munro – the president of the BC Science Teachers’ Association, who mobilized science teachers and took this challenge as an opportunity to reconsider how we run our professional development. Maybe we should have a more flexible – blended Pro-D approach – both online and face-to-face event. Thank you BC Science Teachers’ Association (https://bcscta.com/bcscta-executive/ ) for making the step in the right direction! I also wanted to thank the Executive Board of the BC Association of Physics Teachers (www.bcapt.ca) for pulling together such a fantastic collection of talks. Well done!

Myths about Face-To-Face and Online Education

Posted: September 2nd, 2020, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

As thousands of teachers all around the world are making their final preparations for our online courses, I would like to share a few thoughts on the biggest myth related to online and face-to-face education – the level of student engagement. Actually, I decided to do that after responding to an interviewer’s question on Spice Radio 1200 AM in the Lower Mainland. One of the questions that I am often asked is related to the lack of engagement in online courses. We often assume that in face-to-face courses the students are very engaged and in online courses the students are not going to be engaged. I think it is a myth. If we reflect on our experiences and be honest about them, we will need to acknowledge that very often we felt completely disengaged while being in a face-to-face class. It especially pertains to large lecture classes or small classes, where the teacher keeps lecturing or uses rigid PowerPoint slides while making little effort to engage the students.

I think the level of student engagement depends first and foremost on the pedagogy employed. I know teachers, who can teach in a very engaging manner online courses and unfortunately I also know instructors whose face-to-face lessons are as boring and not engaging as one can imagine. Some teachers use the medium of online education to its fullest skillfully blending synchronous and asynchronous learning environments, while others cannot engage a small group of students in a face-to-face lesson. So in my view, what matters is the pedagogy and how the instructor can use the advantages of the learning environment they have at their disposal.

I think sometimes we have to try and see the big picture and be proactive and resourceful in figuring things out instead of convincing ourselves that it cannot be done. We should not think that the educational challenges we are facing now are insurmountable, because we have the knowledge, the experience, and the technology to figure them out.  For example, while seeing the majestic Mt. Baker from far-away Vancouver one can feel that nobody can reach its top. And yet, we know of many mountain climbers who do it. These are amazing people who have high aspirations, train hard, work hard, respect the mountain, find fellow mountaineers who can do it with them, and eventually achieve their dreams by standing on the top of Mt. Baker.

I think the same applies to education: we should dream high and persevere to achieve our dreams – we can have very engaging online classes and we share our expertise and resources with each other. This is going to be a learning experience for many of us, but how will it feel when we finish the year and see how much our students have learned – this will be as exciting as standing on the top of Mount Baker.

I hope that this will be a positive year of learning and I would like to wish the teachers and students a very fruitful and successful year of learning.

Mt. Baker

Mt. Baker

 

A New Challenge or a New Opportunity

Posted: August 20th, 2020, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. (Ulysses, Lord Tennyson)

Every year at the end of August many K-12 and post-secondary teachers like me feel excited and a little bit nervous. What will the next academic year bring us? Who will come to our classrooms? What interesting novel activities and experiments will we be able to implement? How will we face the new challenges? Will we be able to figure it out and to support our students? This year, we have lots of additional questions to ponder, such as the questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It might looks a little overwhelming and scary. However, I think we should put into a perspective…

I think this year is also an opportunity. As teachers, we rarely have time to pause, look at our classroom teaching and maybe consider reevaluating some of our teaching practices. Too often I think to myself: Oh, I should do this or that, but I do not have time now… And after all that, I revert to teaching the same way I had been teaching in the past. This year will be different because it will force many of us to reconsider our teaching practices. We all have realized that effective online teaching is much more than uploading your lectures online. The emergency remote teaching is as far from effective online teaching as a frozen dinner meal is from your favourite dish your mom prepared especially for you. Both meals are food, but what a difference in quality and in experience!

I hope that this year will allow us to re-evaluate our teaching, to see the big picture, to collaborate with our colleagues, and most importantly, to learn. I am confident we will be able to figure it out and at the end of this year will learn more about teaching and learning online that we could have ever imagined.

I would like to finish this post with the famous poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) “Ulysses”. 

I chose this poem for many reasons (click here). It is about adventure, freedom, taking risks, and living a fulfilling life when you are faced with big challenges – be these the old age, the loss of a friend, or a challenge of the pandemic… Tennyson was writing about the experience and the search for meaning while overcoming challenges, which are in my view at the core of teaching and learning. It is about the meaning of life that each one of us has to be pursuing when we are young or older. It is a poem that echos a famous ancient story by Homer that has been rethought by Joyce, Tennyson and many others. So big questions of life are eternal. I think the big questions of teaching and learning are eternal as well. So not surprisingly, this poem has been forbidden in the Soviet Union (where I grew up) for years. The first translation happen in 1970 (50 years ago) even though Tennyson wrote is in 1833. To read more about it click here.

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Ulysses

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
         This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
         There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

 

Rocky Mountains, courtesy of V. Milner

Selected Media Interviews: Education in the Times of COVID-19

Posted: August 17th, 2020, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

Dr. Marina Milner-Bolotin

This is a list of my recent interviews on the topics related to the education in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. A phone interview with Vancouver Sun journalist, Lori Culbert on the challenges of K-12 students and their families during the pandemic, January 5, 2021: https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/the-good-bad-and-ugly-we-asked-how-the-covid-school-year-is-going-and-were-overwhelmed-by-the-answers 
  2. A phone interview with the Pivot Magazine on the challenges and successes of online education, December 7, 2020.
  3. A CBC Interview (via Zoom) with Jessica Wong on the topic of changes to school year during the pandemic and their impact on the students, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/high-school-educators-condensed-schedule-1.5788334 , November 8, 2020.
  4. A Zoom interview with the students from the IDEA School of Design at the Capilano University on the topic of educational impacts of the pandemic, October 27, 2020.
  5. Interview for Ubyssey newspaper on the topic of teaching during the pandemic: https://www.ubyssey.ca/news/first-years-adjust-online-uni/October 15, 2020.
  6. CBC Radio Winnipeg, Up to Speed interview with Julie Dupre, September 16, 2020.
  7. CBC Morning Live Show with Heather Hiscox, CBC News Network, Panel member on children’s return to school, an online education expert, https://www.cbc.ca/programguide/program/cbc_news_network_with_heather_hiscox/?t=1591641914376, September 8, 2020.
  8. CBC Radio Charles Adler Tonight interview,  What you have to know about back-to-school amid COVID-19, https://omny.fm/shows/charles-adler-tonight/the-full-show-with-guest-host-richard-cloutier-tea, September 2, 2020.
  9. Spice Radio 1200 AM Lower Mainland, a radio interview on the topic of new academic year and how the parents can support their children, September 2, 2020.
  10. Vancouver Sun, interview, on outdoor schooling, https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/covid-19-in-b-c-outdoor-schooling-or-in-drafty-classrooms-up-for-debate/wcm/841d741d-df8a-4dd5-ab5c-62d343f893a1/ , August 30, 2020.
  11. CFAX Radio interview on Adam Stirling Show, phone interview with Adam Stirling on online learning and parental involvement in children’s education during the pandemic, August 26, 2020.
  12. Sing Tao Daily Newspaper, phone interview with Amber Ni, August 25, 2020.
  13. Vancouver Sun interview with Randy Shore on the topic of schooling in the time of pandemic, August 25, 2020.
  14. CBC News interview with Jessica Wong: Return to schools in the times of COVID-19 – https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/e-learning-fall-update-1.5695047August 25, 2020.
  15. Thinking Outside the Sandbox UBC Faculty of Education Podcast: https://anchor.fm/scarfe-sandbox (posted on August 18, 2020)
  16. CTV News interview with Meredith MacLeod on reopening schools in the time of the pandemic,  August 12, 2020, https://www.ctvnews.ca/.
  17. Vancouver Sun interview with Tiffany Crawford on outdoor education the time of COVID-19: July 31, 2020, https://vancouversun.com/news/covid-19-teach-more-classes-outside-during-pandemic-say-some-educators .
  18. Cofactor Conversations  Lab an online interview about the educational implications of COVID-19 pandemic – June 19, 2020.
  19. Only one-third of the students return to the classroom despite assurances – Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020, The Globe and Mail, interviewed by Justine Hunter: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-only-one-third-of-bcs-students-return-to-the-classroom-despite/
  20. Supporting children’s education during the pandemic –Wednesday, May 20th, 2020, UBC University Neighborhood Association (UNA). Click here to register and click here to see the summary of the event.
  21. Pique News Magazine in Whistler, BC April 24, 2020Educating during a pandemic: Experts say there’s valuable opportunity for unstructured learning during self-isolation. Interviewed by Alyssa Noel.
  22. One Hour @ UBC LEcture Series  April 23, 2020 – Free online Webinar for the community. Online lecture can be found here.
  23. Special Alumni Event UBC Family Matters: April 22, 2020 – Online panel. To watch the video click here.
  24. Kelowna Capital News – April 13, 2020: Learning from home may present challenges for young students amid COVID-19 Interviewed by Daniel Taylor.
  25. Vancouver Sun – April 10, 2020: interview with Patrick Johnston – Learning In the Time of the Pandemic.
  26. CBC Kids News – April 10, 2020: https://www.cbc.ca/kidsnews/post/watch-whats-your-homeschooling-style-planner-or-free-spirit
  27. Global News Network, the National, Saturday April 4th, with Robin Gill: https://globalnews.ca/video/6780189/global-national-apr-4-7.
  28. Noon Hour with Adam Stirling on iHeart Radio CFax1070 – April 3, 2020: Education in the times of the pandemic.
  29. Dramatic Rise in Online Learning, IT World Canada, interview with Suzanne Robicheau – April 2, 2020: https://www.itworldcanada.com/hubs/18326-Microsoft.html?utm_source=adwordsTD&utm_campaign=adwordsTD
  30. CBC, April 1, 2020 with Michelle Eliot: A really weird new normal”: Parents, students grapple with learning at home amid pandemic.
  31. CBC Radio, March 30, 2020 with Rosa Marchitelli: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-4-bc-today/clip/15768363-covid-19-homeschooling-chris-hadfield-answer-kids-questions-medical-questions-with-dr.-daly-bd-health-update
  32. Globe and Mail, March 26, 2020 with Caroline Alphonso: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-as-online-learning-rolls-out-education-may-change-forever/
  33. Maclean’s Magazine, March 17, 2020 with Jason Markussoff: https://www.macleans.ca/education/school-closures-due-to-coronavirus-may-last-longer-than-you-think/  

Getting Ready for a New & Unusual School Year

Posted: August 14th, 2020, by Marina Milner-Bolotin

Lake Louise, Banff, Alberta

It is the middle of August… Moreover, it is the middle of August 2020, which has been one of the strangest summer months in decades.  Most of us have spent this summer at home, or had a chance to do some small travels exploring our outdoors – such as nearby parts and campsites. If you were lucky you might even get to explore one of the greatest parks in Canada, such as Banff.

After all, it is the summer of COVID-19 – the pandemic that affected all of us, especially our students, teachers, and students’ families. For me, this time is the end of a very busy summer and unusual summer. It is also the time to get ready to the 2020-2021 academic year. Like many of us, I am thinking of the beginning of the new academic year that most likely will happen at least partially online for both secondary and post-secondary students. It is still unclear what will happen at elementary school. As I keep thinking about it, many questions pop into my head: Are we ready for it? How will we support our students? What technologies will we be using? What have we learned from the first months of 2020 and teaching online? How will we manage the increased workload with online education? How will we make sure that we offer high quality online courses and not just emergency “haphazard” remote teaching? What will be the challenges of this new academic year in the time of COVID-19 pandemic? What can we learn from other countries and how they deal with the pandemic? These are only few questions that I am trying to figure out or at least to get ready for. I am also thinking about our graduate students, as many of them were not able to come to Canada and will need to take courses while being outside of the country. So this is the motivation behind writing this post and collecting some of my thoughts on the topic:

In this post, I decided to collect a few of my recent interviews on the topic, as well as some interesting comments I found online:

CTV News Interview  – August 12, 2020 (interviewer Meredith MacLeod) https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/massive-outbreaks-in-israeli-schools-a-cautionary-tale-for-canada-1.5062834

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