The Epistle of Q — Chapter 120

Another view of on-line education…

Recently I have been getting some directed feedback about some of my rants. I was rightly castigated by a couple of you for not indicating the western attitudes towards the federal government are really nothing new and that some of the problems are of the west’s own making:

For one thing – never adequately kept the Lougheed legacy of the Heritage Trust Fund growing but rather used it for perpetual rainy day funds when there was no rain – in some sense, as despicable as the way the recent Liberal government burned through the Conservative surplus and then ramped up the spending such that when the pandemic hit there was no wiggle room at all.

And as much as there is serious discrepancies from region to region, there have been times when Ontario farmers provided hay to western farmers in a drought year. And we ought not to forget that the entire Atlantic region supplies consider labour to the oil patch, not just from Newfoundland.

Perhaps the most egregious issue, though I am not sure the west is the real sticking point here, is the lack of free trade among the provinces. As I was reminded, until there is an economic union, until goods and labour can move across this land without surcharges, border closures and other taxes, we really are a series of fiefdoms — and at times, warring ones!!

So as much as I wish we had better leadership before and in the early days of the pandemic the real challenge now is getting the re-start right. And so I thought I would share some thoughts from students in a professional degree program concerning their experiences with on-line education and why they would prefer to get back in the classroom. (and they all already have at least one degree) I do this because I am very concerned that if we don’t get classrooms open this autumn, the damage to the post-secondary system in Canada will be significant; but, the impact on students if the primary-elementary-secondary system tries to be on-line only will be colossal. I will deal with the latter in a future chapter.

Let me now share some of the students’ random insights after trying to learn about “applied ethics” totally on-line:

Having the course online was difficult. I think if it was in person things would have been different and other people who did not put in as much effort online perhaps would have in person. I was slightly disappointed in some of the lack of motivation from group members.

Was surprised about the amount of learning and insight that can be distilled from watching a movie. Usually a movie for me is sitting down and “turning my brain off” but in this course we analyzed a bunch of movies that I have never heard of before.

The only issues were the time and interruption in the class schedule, when we did module 1 and 2 and take a week with no classes, Also on line learning was another issue as this class is very interactive.

None directly related to the course, but the online format does not lend to easy group discussion and limits the intergroup communication that would likely happen in person after meeting within the small groups.

I felt as if the course itself was a whirlwind journey! And maybe that was due to the online component but after the first session I really became aware of the amount of self-motivation was involved in learning and understanding the material.

The classes being online, the extra burden of assignments from other courses (due to the classes being online) along with the interviews for practicum with a one-day notice made some things little complicated especially with the debate.

I am actually satisfied with this online journey we had. The in-person discussion would have been great but it is what it is.

The non person interaction during these times definitely made it more difficult to be as motivated. I definitely enjoyed the course, but felt if would have been more interactive and enjoyable in person with the other students with role-playing and an overall better experience, but such is life.

I was surprised at how fast-paced it was, yet it was so fun. I thought to have ethics class back-to-back like that, would be very difficult, but it was actually super fun and time flew by really quickly. Also, the course was very interesting and can be easily utilized.

Evidently COVID-19 restrictions required that the content of the course be delivered through impersonal and distanced learning means. Though the content was of high quality, adjusting to the new delivery method did take away from the social nuances required when approaching ethical scenarios.

What surprised me about the course is how quick the time flies by when in our small groups especially when there is a differing discussion on how to answer certain questions.

One issue was more so to do with the online format of this semester, due to the technical difficulties that my team mates and I experienced during the module discussions it forced me or some of my other teammates to take the objective and quickly work to get the points needed in the discussion finished with.

The classroom discussions were very insightful, it was a safe space for us to share our views. The Ethics unwrapped and Cowboy ethics were very useful tools for learning. I would prefer this course in person as it involves a lot of communication which can often be difficult through the online platform.

Not being in class physically to interact with my peers and my instructor forced me to work more and it also made me to spend more time on the computer than I would have wanted.

I cannot identify any issues that hindered my learning or forced me to work more on my own. Everything was laid out very clearly on Moodle and the groupwork was beneficial. While I would have preferred an in-person learning experience for this class, it was designed in a way to make the best of online learning which is fantastic in these challenging times.

Online, not in person or in class to discuss issues. Sometimes people that were not group leaders seemed a little bit unconcerned or preoccupied, but overall it the satisfactions were higher than the disappointments. I will say disappointments were 1/10

I will leave it with you to ponder… I will return to this topic once the student evaluations are in. For now, start talking to your local educational institutions to determine how to help them figure out a smart, safe but serious way to resume the in-person learning moment.