Mandatory e-learning is a problem in Ontario high schools

"Will the duty to opt out of online learning today become the duty to opt into classroom learning tomorrow?"

Mandatory high school e-learning has become a point of contention in Ontario. The provincial government currently says it will implement two mandatory high school e-learning courses — down from an initial proposal to make it compulsory that students take four out of 30 high school courses online.

On March 3, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Ontario will introduce a “policy to give parents the ability to opt their children out of the mandatory online courses required for graduation.”

However, burdening parents with opting out means they’ll need to take time and make an active decision to opt out. This will likely have the most harmful impact on those families who aren’t aware of their ability to choose, or who face social or linguistic barriers accessing school information, including some newcomers. If awareness of opting out fades over time, then the courses become normalized and commonplace in practice.

Proposals to introduce mandatory e-learning into Ontario high schools might be a slippery slope. Will two mandatory courses today evolve into 25 per cent of all courses, or the possibility of high school diplomas offered 100 per cent online? The Toronto Star reported that a confidential document marked “not for distribution” “envisioned allowing students to get high school diplomas ‘entirely online’ starting in September 2024.”

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Written by Lana Parker
The Conversation
March 9, 2020
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Contributed by the Here For Students Staff
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