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News · The Ford government e-learning plan: a statement by OSSTF/FEESO President Harvey Bischof

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The Ford government e-learning plan: a statement by OSSTF/FEESO President Harvey Bischof

January 14, 2020 — The Ford government’s confidential “implementation plan” for e-learning, which has been obtained by the Toronto Star, offers all the proof we need that this government’s approach to education is nothing more than a fiscal exercise.

The Doug Ford plan is all about removing investment from the system, reducing students’ access to the teachers and education workers they rely on to help them succeed, and creating an online learning system that amounts to bargain basement education delivered on the cheap.

Nowhere in the government’s secret plan is the quality of education addressed. Nowhere is it acknowledged that success rates for students taking online courses is significantly lower than for students in a traditional classroom. Nowhere does the plan mention that significant numbers of students simply don’t learn well in a self-directed environment, without the guidance of dedicated education professionals.    

Instead, the plan contemplates the creation of a “business model” for marketing Ontario’s online learning system to international students, and for licensing course content to jurisdictions outside Ontario. It contemplates a system designed not to deliver the best possible education, but designed instead to generate “maximum revenue.”

As this document makes abundantly clear, anyone who cares about Ontario’s students and their future should be deeply concerned about the kinds of values and assumptions that underpin the Ford government’s approach to education. We see clearly that the most important concerns for students – the quality of the learning experience and the chance to succeed – do not even register. The only concerns that do register are purely fiscal. This government sees education not as a key to future success for the province’s students, but rather as a product to be marketed. This is a plan clearly designed to set into motion the privatization of Ontario’s world-renowned public education system.

There is simply no evidence, anywhere, that mandatory online learning is good for students’ learning experiences or that it helps them succeed. All the evidence, in fact, points to the contrary.

OSSTF/FEESO members will remain steadfast in their resistance to the Doug Ford secret plan for mandatory e-learning.  

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