Earlier decisions could have avoided chaos in online learning

As we entered 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce had visions of expanding online learning into the province’s schools. Be careful what you wish for.

Ontario has gotten online learning in spades and so far it has been anything but a success. Without a doubt, it was a difficult summer school assignment for the Ministry of Education and school boards across the province to prepare to educate elementary and high school students in both the classroom and remotely in homes, without knowing how many families would choose each option.

But the province and the school boards didn’t do themselves any favours by waiting until about a month before classes were to start to survey parents about their preferences. With only a few weeks to prepare, the province announced 20 to 30 per cent of parents chose the online option, forcing boards to reassign teachers to online

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Coping with the rational chaos of Chinese higher education

Despite being Hong Kong Chinese myself, I experienced profound culture shock when I began working in Chinese higher education.

Foreign, and particularly Western, scholars often find certain aspects of Chinese higher education very disconcerting. I come from the region categorised as jingwai (the Chinese areas outside mainland China, which include Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao) by the government of the People’s Republic. So I was not surprised by things such as the lack of Western-style toilets. My Chinese cultural literacy and language proficiency also made it easier for me to integrate. However, the culture shock I felt when I moved from Hong Kong to Beijing to take up a full-time university post in 2018 was very real and emotionally draining.

The major cause of that shock was what Benjamin Green, in a paper presented to a 2019 conference in Manchester on China and higher education, called “rational chaos”. This can

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