Province funds Zoom video conferencing accounts for K-12 schools to help teach online

Province funds Zoom video conferencing accounts for K-12 schools to help teach online
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As desks remain empty during the pandemic, the Province is offering Zoom to all educators

B.C. teachers will now have access to Zoom, an online video conferencing tool to help teach students remotely, as students are learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Education has secured and funded licences for the easy-to-use platform for all K-12 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,” said the Ministry in a press release issued Wednesday. “For educators who choose to offer online learning, Zoom gives them a common, consistent platform to communicate and share lessons with their students.”

Without kids in the classroom, schooling from now on will be done in different ways across BC. Some options include online learning tools and resource packages, as well as emailed assignments. The Ministry is hoping Zoom will make the transition to remote learning a little easier, for both students and teachers.

School administrators can control permissions and privileges, while disabling unnecessary or inappropriate features.

To ensure safety and privacy, students will be given a unique website address so they can access their virtual classroom without needing an individual account.

The licensing agreement complies with BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the Zoom server will be based in Canada, with added encryption to make it a safe platform to use.

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

While teachers and schools will have primary responsibility for continuous learning, the government is also playing a part, launching Keep Learning BC last month.

The resource is a place where families can find ideas for everyday educational activities, links to free learning resources, as well as how to help children learn and tips to ensure their well-being at home. According to the BC Government, more than 136,000 visitors have accessed the Keep Learning BC website – an average of 33,786 a day – as of March 31.

Online learning is not for everyone, and schools have been directed to look at alternative approaches for continued learning that will fit with the individual needs of students having a hard time learning from home. Some school districts may also loan computer equipment or devices to support students while they learn remotely.

While the Zoom platform may be new to most, some teachers at Esquimalt High in Victoria have already put the video conferencing app to good use…however, for less educational reasons.

For accurate information about schools, programs and educational services, including regularly-updated frequently asked questions, visit the Safe and Healthy Schools page on the government’s website.

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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