This project aimed at analyzing how the shift to online learning during 2020-2021 period of remote delivery may have impacted rural/remote post-secondary students in the province. The literature review discusses the impacts of the “digital divide” in BC and elsewhere.
The study also utilized institutional data and interviews with students and faculty from four public post-secondary institutions in Northern B.C. to explore how access to technology, and other learning resources, have affected students in rural and remote communities and their post-secondary performance. This was attempted with the use of institutional data (GPA, grad rate, and early leaving). No large, systematic urban-rural differences in the GPAs of students either before or after the onset of the pandemic. Linear regression models that account for available student demographics and other potential confounders (e.g., program area, institution) allowed us to identify statistically significant rural-urban differences in GPA in the Fall of 2020. A variety of other unaccounted factors beyond the split into rural and urban may have influenced the results; thus, we caution the reader against drawing strong conclusions from this analysis.
Directions for future research include the replication of these analyses using provincial-level records capturing student performance, as the sample examined through this project is unlikely to be representative of the broader province.