A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Learning Online Not Easy for All

Readers of my Democracy Under Fire blog will know I am no great fan of Doug Frord and on that part of my public writings I try to focus on the theme of said blog, that being democracy. Its a very narrow line between that and general abuse of rural residents where this part of my blogging has a somewhat wider focus.

A post by a fellow blogger mirrored my response to Frords recent move to 'improve' education access by providing (actually forcing) students to get part of their education via 'on line courses'. Lets be clear my kids are long done with school and both are doing well thanks in part to some excellent support from a number of under appreciated RURAL teachers despite the greatly reduced support compared with major urban areas. No doubt my fellow blogger linked to above who was a teacher in rural Ontario can expand upon that but I can say that more recent experiences with our 'challenged' grandaughter has highlighted the differences between the 'services' and 'support' available in less populated areas. This from within or not to far from 'the golden triangle', lord knows what rural and remote areas in northern Ontario or for that matter elsewhere in Canada go through.

It seems that those supposedly 'running the show' from the 'big city' have no clue that the speed and connectivity to the internet that they take for granted is NOT available to many rural residents and their children. I some areas the only choice some kids may have is 56k (thats 56K NOT 56 mb) at best via dial up, possibly 2 or 3mb via line of sight link IF they can afford it. Hardly conducive to on line learning where no doubt the material will be 'heavy' content! For the benefit of those city folk who are saying 'what you cant get highspeed?' or ' cant the kids go to the library if they have to' or even 'stay after school and use their computers' I will address each of those issues.

  1. In rural areas unless you happen to live near a major artery where fiber optics has been installed internet connection is generally provided by line of sight technology from the nearest independent supplier IF no trees, buildings or hills come between you and them. In most cases IF you do get service the speed is dependent upon a number of factors including number of users, weather conditions and ability to pay big $$$.
  2. Use the local library? Apart from the fact that many of our rural libraries have limited resources available and high demand from kids to complete their mandated on line courses would result in having to 'book time', most rural kids take the bus to school up to an hour away by said school bus and the bus wont wait for late comers.
  3. If the kids are able to make arrangements to stay with an in town friend or have a parent drive into town to pick them up and thus access the school computers after hours will they be available. With the cuts to staffing coming from the Ford regime will the school even be available for the kids use after hours?

Just asking.......

Bottom line 'Ontario’s plan to impose four mandatory online credits is without equal' HOWEVER 'Not all students have equal access to the internet or the computer skills (and access) required to complete said credits.'

Coming soon?
SouthWestern Integrated Fibre Technology project, known as SWIFT will begin the first phase of developing a fibre optic network to serve the southwestern region in the spring. Phase one is expected to take four years and will introduce about one twelfth of the infrastructure needed for an area that spans 41,286 square kilometres and contains 3.5 million people....... The remaining majority of residents had best not hold their breath and those on some of the less populated side roads will be very lucky to see a hook up (if they can afford it) by 2050.