Some schools are already using online platforms to teleconference and send messages. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

B.C. schools Zoom to online education amid COVID-19

K-12 educators will receive access this month, up to individual districts whether they use it or not

Education is getting another tech tool for K-12 learning provincewide.

The teleconferencing app, called Zoom, can now be used for educators to communicate remotely with students while in-class learning is suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Ministry of Education has secured and funded licences for the application Zoom for all public and independent schools in B.C.

“This will allow consistent access for educators who choose to use it, giving them more ways to communicate with students and parents,” the Ministry states in a press release.

“Continued learning will vary for each school depending on the needs of students. Some options include online learning tools and/or resource packages or assignments emailed or mailed from teachers to parents. For educators who choose to offer online learning, Zoom gives them a common, consistent platform to communicate and share lessons with their students.”

Educators will receive access to Zoom through their school districts this month, along with simple instructions about how to use the software.

To ensure safety and privacy for students, the licensing agreement complies with B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. School technology administrators can control permissions and privileges, while disabling features that are unnecessary or inappropriate. Students will be given a unique website address, so they can access their virtual classroom without needing an individual account. The Zoom server will be based in Canada, with added encryption so it is a safe platform to learn.

While teachers and schools will have primary responsibility for continuous learning, government also launched Keep Learning BC on March 27, 2020: www.openschool.bc.ca/keeplearning.

READ MORE: B.C. Kids get back to learning online

“This is a central place where families can find ideas for everyday educational activities, links to free learning resources, as well as how to help children learn and how to ensure their well-being while they are at home,” said the Ministry.

The websites are updated on a regular basis with new materials. As of March 31, 2020, more than 136,000 visitors have accessed the Keep Learning BC website – an average of 33,786 a day.

Since there are many students who will have challenges working online, schools have also been directed to look at alternative approaches for continued learning that will fit with the individual needs and circumstances of their communities. Some school districts may also loan computer equipment or devices to support students while they learn from home.

READ MORE: Association launches French language games, online tools for families learning at home


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