Okanagan students adjusting to learning from home - InfoNews

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Okanagan students adjusting to learning from home

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April 17, 2020 - 5:40 PM

An Okanagan student says the transition to the online learning environment born from a global pandemic has been relatively easy, with a few hiccups.

“It’s been a lot different for a lot of us who haven’t done online school before. Personally, I have done some online schooling… so it’s similar to that,” Zane Halperin, a Grade 11 student at Okanagan Mission Secondary in Kelowna, who said  he is finishing his school days by 1 p.m.

Some of his friends are starting their days at 1 p.m. since an online environment has allowed for a flexible schedule, he said.

READ MORE: Learning from home, through ZOOM and sometimes in class, Central Okanagan schools adapting fast

“They give us a video to follow and learn from that instead of learning from the person, which in some ways has been really nice because we can go back and restart the video… and re-learn the lesson,” he said. “But it’s also hard because you have questions to ask but you can’t do that as easily or as seamlessly.”

When he does have a question, the Zoom call is two days away still, so that’s the harder part for him.

"Technology is fickle, so trying to get 24 people on a zoom call is not always the easiest thing,” Halperin said.

There are some scheduled Zoom calls, but they’re mostly check-ups, he said, “so we can adjust to what we want to do.”

READ MORE: Okanagan childcare provider believes province should halt daycares if schools close

His business classes have had group meetings, but full classes online are when students can ask questions and also to hear announcements, he said.

While some students have acted a little goofy with their digital Zoom backgrounds, “the virtual backgrounds are pretty fun to play with. It hasn’t been all that distracting,” he said.

Halperin, along with classmates Keiren Rice, Sam Bekkering were set to compete in the annual iGen Challenge, pitching their idea for a sports app. Although they won’t be pitching their idea in person, Halperin said the competition is still going to be held virtually.

READ MORE: Gatherings restricted, schools closed: What's being done to fight COVID-19

The students will be pitching their Alltrek Okanagan idea, an app that, once developed, will act as a social network for outdoorsy people.

Bruce Mckay, principal at OKM, said the major focus over the last few weeks has been ensuring that students have access to remote learning and can continue their relationships with staff.

Staff members have called every student and have had about a 90 per cent success rate in connecting, he said.

Especially at the senior grades, the response has been pretty positive, he said.

“We’re still addressing trickiness, but overall it’s gone as well as we could hope it could have gone,” McKay said.

Moyra Baxter, chair for the Central Okanagan Public Schools Board of Education, said the delivery of Zoom meetings and how online classes look is up to the discretion of each teacher.

“We need to make sure that parents know that if they’re having any problems that they contact the child’s teacher,” she said.

Some students may do well with the online transition, while others may struggle, she said.

The school district has sent out 2,000 devices to students, to ensure they’re able to have access to online materials while at home, she said, adding that some families may only have a single computer, which poses a challenge if parents are already working from home. The district has roughly 23,000 students who are learning remotely.

The district is also working with service providers to ensure students have access to the internet, she said.

Students across the province have been adjusting to the digital classroom since B.C.’s K-12 system was suspended until further notice due to COVID-19.

School districts have been adjusting to online teaching formats although in class learning is still happening for roughly 550 Central Okanagan families with Tier 1 essential workers such as firefighters, healthcare workers and police officers.


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