In a two-part series, reporters Heather Rivers and Louis Pin examine the Progressive Conservative government’s new education policies, and how they’ll affect students – from kindergarten to university – when classes resume:The smiles and the jitters, in equal measure, are there in every back-to-school cycle.But this year in Ontario, the jitters have the edge.Sweeping changes to education, from elementary school to university, are starting to kick in as Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government takes its reforms – and budget battles – to the classroom.Nowhere will the changes be felt more than in high school, where students will face a larger average class size, fewer optional courses and, many fear, fewer teachers and other grown-ups to help them.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.In low-enrolment rural schools, many of them in Southwestern Ontario, some fear the fallout could kill those languishing on their deathbeds – schools until now protected by a provincial freeze on closings.But the biggest change coming in high school is one unique in North America – a new e-learning requirement that teenagers, over four years, take four of their 30 courses needed to graduate online.Even for a generation that has always known the internet, being forced into digital learning doesn’t sit well with many. And experts say such a move can easily backfire if it’s not backed by proper staffing and technology, which may well mean spending more money – not less.“If students are sitting by themselves in a room with little to no support at the school level – unless that student is a naturally strong, independent learning (type) – they are not going to have success,” warns Michael Barbour, an expert in online learning at Touro University California, a private graduate school.Critics say the Ford government’s shakeup of the $31-billion education system is all about saving money, trying to wring out $1 billion over four years to help the Tories whip a $12-billion budget shortfall.The government insists its changes are about modernizing the school system, and that no teaching jobs will be lost except through attrition. Teachers’ unions and others sharply disagree.None of it makes Lily Ryan and her friends, heading to high school for the first time, feel any better. “It’s definitely scary,” said 14-year-old Ryan, who’s going into Grade 9 at Sir Frederick Banting secondary school in London. “But I have hope.”Ryan figures she can do the math on what’s ahead: A larger average class size means teachers with less time for students, she notes. They’ll also have to work harder, since their numbers are being rolled back.And the stuff that makes school worthwhile for many kids, the options and special programs that bring out passions in many – Ryan fears they’re in jeopardy, as school boards scale back elective options.“The fun classes, or classes that make kids go to school, like the art and tech classes, might just get cut completely,” she said. “If those classes get taken away, then they don’t have that.”The changes don’t stop there.In elementary schools, the average class size is also going up, but less dramatically than in high school.On campus, college and university students will get a 10 per cent tuition cut. But the same government giving them that break is taking away free tuition grants that helped about 200,000 students afford school before. It’s also giving post-secondary schools less money to work with and hooking more of that to performance – measurements like graduation rates and how quickly students go on to find jobs.Welcome to Doug Ford’s classroom.“He’s cutting the budget on the backs of children,” said London New Democrat MPP Terence Kernaghan. A former teacher, he worries about the fallout of larger classes on kids needing more time with teachers.Poorer learning outcomes, kids acting out, more violence – it all comes with larger classes, he said. If that’s not enough, there’s a backlog of $16 billion in needed repairs in the school system, he added.“It is something that is completely scary,” Kernaghan said.The rhetoric sounds apocalyptic. But even in the run-up to the new school year, in back-to-back announcements last week, when school messaging is crucial, the Tories threw everyone two curve balls.First, after vowing to scrap the former Liberal government’s modern sexual education curriculum, one critics saw as a throwback to appease social conservatives not happy about kids being taught blunt sexual concepts as early as they are, the Tories announced a revised curriculum that, with minor differences, largely leaves the existing one intact.Months of hand-wringing and preparing for a new course of studies went out the window.Then, Education Minister Stephen Lecce, moving to counter what he called “misinformation,” dropped another bombshell, saying he’s open to trading cost-saving ideas in the education system for lower average class sizes and that this school year the average will only rise to 22.5 students.Months earlier, the government had said the average class size in high school would rise to 28 students from 22 and in elementary school by one student, to 24, increases the province has said will ultimately mean 3,475 fewer teachers in the system, as attrition reduces their numbers.For school districts that have planned for the larger averages, including cancelling thousands of classes, it was a shot out of the blue. One teachers’ union leader called it a “feeble attempt at sleight of hand,” saying the government still plans to hike the high school class average to 28 over time.Lecce, despite repeated Postmedia requests, was not made available for comment for this story.*** Like many kids heading to high school for the first time, Kaya Intini has questions.Perhaps surprisingly, for someone from a tech-savvy generation, she’s concerned about one of the biggest changes in high school – a requirement that students take four online courses to graduate.“I know students taking online courses who have had to hire tutors for help with their studies,” said Intini, who’s also headed to Banting secondary. “A lot of things are not as well explained (as in the classroom). I am not sure how this will work – they will need so much technology. Where will they be getting the money?”ONLINE EXTRA Students, union officials and education experts weigh in on the Ontario Tories’ education changes. CLICK HERE TO READ ITMaya Lopez-Town, also going into Grade 9 in London, has similar concerns. “It worries me, not for my sake but other students,” said the H.B. Beal secondary student.“Not all students have access to a computer or access to the internet so they can do their courses. It’s not fair. . . . There is going to be a change all of a sudden to be switching from (the) classroom, which is how I learn better, to learning to do online courses,” she said.They’re good points, but so far there aren’t a lot of answers.What is known is that Ontario won’t start compulsory e-learning until next school year, but provincial officials can’t yet answer details about how the classes will work, how many students they’ll have, whether students complete the work from school or home, or both, and how they’ll be supervised.The question isn’t whether online learning works, but what’s needed to make it work, said Barbour, the Canadian-born online learning expert teaching in California.“Anybody can learn in any medium,” said Barbour, who has studied and written about e-learning across Canada. “What impacts learning is how it is designed, and how learning is supported. If they (Ontario) could do a good job on those, it could be very successful.”Only about five per cent of Ontario students now take online courses, so the compulsory move is dramatic. But while it’s easy to see how a government trying to save money might like that, with possibly fewer teachers needed, experts caution online learning done on the cheap is bound to be bad.“I am really adamant about ringing some alarm bells here because I teach it,” said Beyhan Farhadi, a high school and e-learning teacher in Toronto who’s completing a PhD thesis on e-learning in the Toronto District school board.Farhadi is concerned about the sudden, 95-per-cent increase in e-learning students Ontario will have.“Nobody is talking about it,” she said. “It’s unfortunate, because it’s supposed to be coming out in 2020 and we could be spending this year building the competency of students.”Tony Bates, author of Teaching in a Digital Age, has said he’s suspicious of the Ford government’s motives for making online learning mandatory, but that – properly done – it can pay dividends.“If he’s using it to cut government spending, it is a really bad policy,” he said.The upside?E-learning can help students to learn independently, sharpen their self-discipline and encourage them to get more involved in their own education, said Bates.“That’s good, because everyone in the end needs to take responsibility for their own learning. It’s a skill,” he said.People for Education, an advocacy group for public education, estimates e-learning will save Ontario nearly $41 million. While most high schools already offer access to online learning, only about five per cent of students take up that option, the group says.It’s not for everyone, said Farhadi, noting research shows students not going on to university don’t do as well in online learning as academic students. “There is a huge disparity in outcomes for these two.”Chronic under-funding of e-learning programs makes it tough to meet all students’ needs, said Farhadi.“Even folks who are very positive and and proponents of e-learning in general recognize you require face-to-face supports for e-learning to be successful,” she said.KEY CHANGES: Average class sizes:Rising to 28 students from 22 in high school; up one to 24 in elementary. Education minister says average this year will be 22.5. Money:School boards will average $12,246 per pupil this year, down $54 per pupil from last year Teachers:Province has said 3,475 jobs, about three per cent of the total, will be lost over four years. Unions fear higher fallout. Courses:Four required online courses in high school, North America’s highest requirement, starting next year. Thousands of other optional classes at risk as boards plan for fewer teachers. READ IT HERE: Doug Ford’s Classroom, Part 2: On campus, a tough new landscape looms Clockwise from the top: Dylan Lobb, Lily Ryan, Kaya Cygalski and Kaya Intini are entering Grade 9 at Banting in September. Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press
If you haven’t noticed, cloud computing has been evolving from marketing hype to technology development and solution delivery in 2010. We’ve been talking about cloud for about a year on Chip Chat focusing our discussions on the technologies required for cloud innovation. Last week I chatted with Raejeanne Skillern on the Intel Cloud Builder program, and she packed in more info per second than I can recall in a Chip Chat episode.Today Intel, the industry, and data center customers took the conversation to a new level. The big news is the launch of a new data center customer driven group called the Open Data Center Alliance. The group is garnering a lot of attention with their launch, both from the media and from their peers. I was able to catch up with Alliance chairman Marvin Wheeler, who earns his living as Chief Strategy Officer for Terramark. Marvin filled me in on the Alliance and shared why he’s so excited about what the group brings to data center computing.Today’s announcement also featured a lot of new info from Intel including news that Intel will serve as technical advisor to the Open Data Center Alliance and that we’ve greatly expanded our Cloud Builders program to rally the industry towards open, interoperable cloud solution delivery. I caught up with two Intel execs we’ve had on Chip Chat before, Data Center Group Marketing VP Boyd Davis and Jason Waxman, General Manager, High Density Computing, Data Center Group, to learn more about the Cloud announcements. Boyd provided a unique look on what the development means for the industry and why Intel is the perfect fit as technical advisor to such an Alliance. Jason drilled down into what it will mean to have a cloud requirements roadmap available to the industry and how Intel plans on working with other cloud leaders to meet customer requirements through our Cloud Builders program.The interviews signal a new series of Chip Chat episodes on delivery of the cloud…hope you enjoy the chats, and as always I’d love any feedback on the conversations as well as on topics you’d like to hear in the future.
Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/ 1 goal 2 red cards Lecce President Saverio Sticchi Damiani criticised apologetic Cagliari goalkeeper Robin Olsen for being the “protagonist of incredible play-acting.” Olsen clashed with Gianluca Lapadula after the Lecce striker had reduced the deficit to 2-1 from the penalty spot at the Via del Mare on Monday, following a handling offence by Fabrizio Cacciatore. The two players clashed and Lecce President Sticchi Damiani accused Olsen of “simulation” to help get Lapadula sent off. “I have a great feeling of regret, we should have played in with two men more, 11 against nine,” he said about the last 10 minutes of the game. “Here we have endless debates on handballs, positioning of the arm and VAR. “Then Lecce had to accept a red card for Lapadula, who took three hits from the opposing goalkeeper, without having done anything. “We will lose our player through suspension, because of Olsen’s simulation. He was the protagonist of incredible play-acting.” The match ended in a 2-2 draw, as Lecce played with 10 against nine, and the former Roma shot-stopper apologised to the fans after being “close to three points.” “Unfortunate end of the game, which of course I apologise for,” Olsen posted on social media. “To my teammates, my coaches and our fans! I never wanted to leave them alone in this game, we were close to the three points after a good team effort… “New games are coming up and I will do everything I can to support my team, as always!” .. in the space of a few seconds! Gianluca Lapadula fires home the penalty, and immediately gets sent over following an altercation with Cagliari goalkeeper Robin Olsen, who also gets dismissed! pic.twitter.com/QfBQncoMJt — Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) November 25, 2019