How a Canadian high school student is helping others learn online during COVID-19
TORONTO -- School can be difficult at the best of times – add a pandemic and a regular day can seemingly be a nearly impossible task. That’s why one Canadian high school student at is helping thousands of people around the world adapt to e-learning.
Sophia Joffe is a Toronto-area high school student at Country Day School who created eLearn.fyi: an online database compiled of more than 300 online learning tools. Students are able to access her website to create an online learning profile where they can manage their studies in a coherent approach.
The Grade 12 student used her own experience transitioning from a classroom setting to an online platform as inspiration for her program.
“It was really difficult and it was really stressful knowing that right after March Break we were jumping into a totally new online learning system - it was so much different than an in-class instruction,” said Joffe in an interview with CTV’s Your Morning on Friday.
She expected that there would be added resources to help students cope as they transitioned to an online learning environment, but her expectations fell short. Not only were there few available, but resources lacked quality, she said.
“When you don’t have proper online instruction and you’re not learning things properly online, it’s really hard to digest the concepts and understand and apply it,” said Joffe.
Like many students, Joffe is concerned the COVID-19 pandemic has caused learning loss for many students. Her goal isn’t only to alleviate the stress the pandemic has put on students, but eliminate learning loss altogether.
“If you have very loose instruction from your online class then you can have eLearn.fyi to pick and choose different sites and create your own learning profile – which is the beauty of e-learn,” she said.
As first reported in the New York Times, Joffe spent only $19 to host her website, and used what free software licenses she could find to run her program. By October, Joffe’s online traffic had 500 unique visitors from more than 40 countries.
The program categorizes grades from Kindergarten to Grade 12, and then breaks subjects down making it easier for students to digest classroom material in a concise way. Joffe’s website clearly organizes students’ classes and takes them to external apps and websites like YouTube that help guide them through any given subject.
“I wanted to stray away of the classic textbook approach of learning,” she said.
Joffe hopes the Canadian government will one day work in partnership with tech companies to modernize the learning experience. Streaming platforms like Netflix could pose an opportunity where students can stream classes at their own pace while having their entire education at their fingertips, she said.