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Young woman working on laptop computer.For adolescents, learning online doesn’t replace in-person interactions, says education professor Lana Parker.

Provincial push for online schooling threatens public education: researcher

The Ontario government is discussing making full-time online schooling a permanent choice, an idea that threatens the viability of education as a public good, UWindsor education professor Lana Parker argues.

“Fully online learning has had consequences for mental health, with increased feelings of social isolation. There have also been challenges to physical health, as youth grappled with a lack of physical activity and deteriorating eyesight,” Dr. Parker writes in an article published Tuesday in the Conversation, which shares news and views from the academic and research community.

Her research into youth literacy and online engagement explores how proficiency in navigating technology should not be mistaken for understanding complex information.

“Literacy learning can be strengthened when students and teachers explore the emotional implications of contentious issues in a classroom community,” she writes. “In other words, leaving students alone in front of screens for even more of their already online-immersed day does not improve their critical thinking or engagement.”

Parker notes that a proposal to partner with TVOntario to offer online learning coincides with a plan to sell the province’s curriculum to private schools, and raises concerns about student privacy and inequality, especially for children with special education needs.

“An impoverished public system drives families into private schools, which further erodes the public good,” she concludes. “Defunding and marketization will leave public education in a race to the bottom.”

Read the entire piece, “Ontario’s ‘choice’ of fully online school would gamble on children for profit,” in the Conversation.
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