Population: 4,683,139
Number of K-12 Schools: 1930
Number of K-12 Students: 635,037

Number of K-12 E-Learning Programs: 74
Number of K-12 E-Learning Students: ~63,350

Note that these profiles are taken from the most recent edition of the report, please review additional annual profiles below.

Governance and Regulation

The Ministry of Education and Training defines distributed learning (i.e., a term used to include both distance and online learning) as a method of instruction that relies primarily on indirect communication between students and teachers, including Internet or other electronic-based delivery, teleconferencing, or correspondence.

The distributed learning landscape has remained relatively stable over the past years. The legislative language in section 3.1 and section 75 (4.1) of the School Act, 2006, as well as section 8.1 of the Independent School Act, 2006, still govern the operation of distributed learning programs. Both pieces of legislation contain similar language concerning the establishment of distributed learning schools “only with the prior agreement of the Minister.” Districts and independent schools that enter into an agreement with the Ministry are required to:

  • ensure that students may exercise their rights under legislation to choose distributed learning instruction within a coordinated province-wide distributed learning system;
  • commit to meet or exceed the Distributed Learning Standards;
  • agree to participate in the Quality Assurance Review process and aligns its website to meet Ministry requirements;
  • ensure it has supports in place to comply with the Ministry policy and standards, including resource investment;
  • provide training and professional development for teachers, and employs only teachers who have experience and/or training in distributed learning methodology;
  • meet policy requirements related to funds for designated resources to parents and learners;
  • ensure that all learners in the board’s catchment area who are receiving distributed learning instruction from anywhere in the province are receiving appropriate support;
  • provide records and reports on student achievement as specified by the Ministry;
  • work to achieve a 100 percent participation rate in Foundation Skills Assessments and Satisfaction Surveys;
  • provide current and accurate distributed learning contact information to the Ministry; and
  • provide accurate information regarding its Distributed Learning website, courses offered, and contact information to the Ministry by July 31 of each year, updating the information as required.

Finally, the funding for distributed learning is somewhat different than traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Distributed learning funding is provided to the public school district or the independent authority providing the distributed learning program. For full time students in kindergarten to grade 9, traditional bricks and mortar schools, school districts are funded one time, as at September 30th (students in seats), while students in grades 10-12 are funded per course. Distributed learning schools have three funding opportunities depending on when the students meet eligibility requirements:

  • September (30th) distributed learning schools receive 100% of per pupil funding,
  • February distributed learning schools receive 50% of per pupil funding, and
  • May distributed learning schools receive 33% of per pupil funding.

During the 2016-17 school year, the basic allocation school-age equivalent (i.e., FTE) for students attending a brick-and-mortar school was $7,218 (or $902.25/course), while only $6,030 (or $753.75/course) for a student attending a distributed learning school.

K-12 Distance and Online Learning Activity

The Ministry tracks student enrolment through the Student Achievement Data Exchange (SADE). SADE collects course level data for every student for all distributed learning schools offering kindergarten through grade 12. School districts and authorities operating distributed learning schools are required to submit this information annually.

In 2016-17 there were 58 district-level public distributed learning schools and 16 independent distributed learning schools that enrolled approximately 57,046 unique students in one or more courses. Additionally, Open School BC also provided provincial content and online hosting services on a cost-recovery model to school districts lacking the capacity or desire to manage their own distributed learning program. Finally, the BC Learning Network, a consortium of school districts providing online courses for use by distributed learning schools, has entered the final year of its content development plan, to create online content and digital resources that can be used in all learning environments.

K-12 Blended Learning Activity

Under the current policy, the delivery method is considered distributed learning as long as the student is at a distance from the teacher for the “majority of the time,” which is not explicitly defined. The current funding model in British Columbia does not differentiate between distributed learning and blended learning or between face-to-face and blended learning. However, there are different funding amounts for face-to-face courses and programs, as compared to distributed learning courses.

At present, the Ministry of Education has also not yet begun to gather data on blended learning programs. Based on recent responses to the annual Individual Program Survey, approximately half of all districts and authorities offering distributed learning provide a blended learning program, for a total of approximately 6300 students. Most of these programs appear to be small, pilot initiatives that serve less than 50 students each. However, there are also three programs that serve more than 1200 students each.

Previous Provincial Profiles

History of K-12 E-Learning

K-12 distance education in Canada began in British Columbia in 1919, when the province began offering correspondence education to students living in isolated parts of the province (Toutant, 2003). This centralized system of correspondence education continued until 1984, when the province began to establish the first of nine regional correspondence schools (Dunae, 1997-2008). K-12 online learning began in British Columbia in 1993, with the introduction of New Directions in Distance Learning and the EBUS Academy. By 1994, the responsibility for distance education had largely shifted to individual school districts. Over the past two decades, both public district-based and independent online learning programs have proliferated considerable. Winkelmans, Anderson, and Barbour (2010) provide a comprehensive history of the development of K-12 distance education and e-learning in the province.


Dunae, P. A. (1997-2008). Correspondence education. The Homeroom. Nanaimo, BC: Vancouver Island University. Retrieved from https://www2.viu.ca/homeroom/content/topics/programs/corresp.htm

Toutant, T. S. (2003). Equality by mail: Correspondence education in British Columbia, 1919 to 1969. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. University of Victoria, Victoria, BC

Winkelmans, T., Anderson, B., & Barbour, M. K. (2010). Distributed learning in British Columbia: A journey from correspondence to online delivery. Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning, 14(1), 6-28. Retrieved from http://journals.akoaotearoa.ac.nz/index.php/JOFDL/article/viewFile/29/26


Brief Issue Papers

Individual Program Survey Responses

 Program  Most recent response   Medium   # of Students   # of Teachers   # of Courses 
Abbotsford Virtual School
2015-16 Online
1,500 supplemental
300 full time
80 blended
12 full time
3 part time
3 blended
75  (gr 10–12) &
all subjects (K–9) online
3 blended
Anchor Academy
2010-11 Online 503 30 full time ~80 (gr. 10-12)
70-80 (K-9)
Bulkley Valley Education Connection
2015-16 Online
180 supplemental
30 full time
180 blended
2 full time
1 part time
2 blended
>50 distance
>50 blended
Burnaby Online Program
2011-12 Online
1,400 supplemental
225 full time
16 55 secondary
8 elementary
Choices DL
2016-17 Online
200 FTE distance*
60% students blended
4 full time
all blended
40 grades 8-12
full K-7 program
Coquitlam Open Learning
2016-17 Online
~2,500 distance 7 full time
18 part time
3 blended
35+ distance
3 blended
Cowichan Valley Distributed Learning
2016-17 Correspondence
60 distance
54 blended
2 full time
4 part time
2.6 blended
248 distance
Creston Homelinks
2016-17 Online
130.5 FTE distance*
130.5 FTE blended*
3 full time
3 part time
6 blended
42 secondary
full K–9 program
Delta Access
2015-16 Online 1,000 12 part time 40
Distance Education School of the Kootenays
2015-16 Online
1,000 distance
14 blended
5 full time
3 part time
1 blended
33 distance
1 blended
Diversity by Design DL Academy
2012-13 Online
100 2 full time
7 part time
Ebus Academy
2016-17 Online ~4000 33 full time
9 part time
École Virtuelle CSF
2014-15 Online
204 online
12 blended
6 part time online
1 full time blended
19 online
1 blended
Education Outreach Program
2016-17 Online 58 FTE* 1 full time
1.5 (FTE) part time
2016-17 Online 5,000 15 full time
3 part time
Fraser Valley Distance Education School
2012-13 Online
~3,500 30 full time
1 part time
Hands-On Home-Learning
2014-15  Correspondence (PDFs) 82  12 part time
Heritage Christian Schools
2015-16 Online
~3,800 supplemental
2,754 full time
1,580 blended
102 full time
60 part time
75 blended
143 distance
36 blended
Home Quest
2015-16 Correspondence 90 full time 3 part time all subjects (K-9)
Island ConnectEd K-12
2016-17 Online
1,645 online 16 full time
3 part time
Juan de Fuca Distributed Learning
2015-16 Online
2,800 distance
1200 blended
8 full time
22 part time
23 blended
55 distance
26 blended
Kamloops Open Online Learning
2015-16 Online 2,544 3 full time
12 part time
Kleos Open Learning 2016-17 Online
200 10 full time
6 part time
Full K-12
Kootenay Discovery School
2016-17 Online
600 1 full time
2 part time
Navigate (NIDES)
2015-16 Online
570 FTE distance*
175 FTE blended*
110 FTE adult*
32 full time
8 part time
8 blended
120+ distance
full K–7 program blended
Northern BC Distance Education School
2016-17 Online
435 4 full time
2 part time
160 secondary
full K–7 program
North Coast Distance Education School
2012-13 Online
~3,400 8 full time 65
North Vancouver Distributed Learning School http://www.sd44.ca/school/distributed/Pages/default.aspx 2016-17 Online
 ~3,000 distance
~550 blended
8 full time
15 part time
6 blended
57 distance
3 blended
Quesnel Distributed Learning School
2015-16 Online
150 online
35 blended
2 full time
1 part time
1 blended
25 online
16 blended
Richmond Virtual School
2015-16 Online 1800 online
1700 blended
2 full time
45 part time
Rocky Mountain Distributed Learning School
2015-16 Online ~350 3 full time 75
SelfDesign Learning Community
2016-17 Online ~2200 ~30 full time
~145 part time
full complement of K-12
South Central Interior Distance Education School
2016-17 Online
182 grades K – 12 & 1519 cross-enrolled (total 294 FTE) distance 10 full time
4 part time
full program K-7 distance
>150 gr. 8-12 distance
South Island Distance Education School
2015-16 Online
Blended (pilot)
6794 distance
~100 blended
22 full time
12 part time
full program K-7
119 gr. 8-12
South Peace Distributed Learning
2015-16 Online
55 FTE* 1 full time
4 part time
Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning
2016-17 Online
~2000 distance 21 full time
300+ blended
Traditional Learning Academy
2016-17 Online
1000 distance
250 blended
50 full time
35 part time
15 blended
80 distance
40 blended
Vancouver Learning Network
2016-17 Online
 ~5000 8 full time
31 part time
Vernon Virtual Learning
2015-16 Online
1200 distance
100 blended
9 full time
3 part time
2016-17 Online
630 6 full time
3 part time

* Full-time equivalents, not the total number of students.

To update this information, visit http://tinyurl.com/sotn-program-survey

Inter-provincial and International

If a student in British Columbia took a course from an online program in another province or territory, or even in another country, the student would present him/herself at a local school or distributed learning school and request either equivalency for a credential earned in another jurisdiction or permission to challenge a course for credit based on prior learning or experience. The Ministry’s policy is to allow each school to have their own procedures to guide this process.

At present there is only one school district business company (i.e., SD73 Business Company) that has an agreement with the Ministry to offer distributed learning content to non-resident students.  The Business Company is owned by the Kamloops-Thompson School District No.73  but operates at an arms-length and is not able to grant British Columbia credits.  A non-resident student who completes a course through the SD73 Business Company would have to go through the process of receiving credit for the student’s course based on the guidelines established in the student’s own jurisdiction, or the BC jurisdiction they register to study in as an international student.

Additionally, there are a few distributed learning programs that have specific agreements in place to serve students in a given jurisdiction. For example, the Northern British Columbia Distance Education School can serve students in the Yukon by special arrangement. The Yukon Department of Education is responsible for recognizing those credits (although the Yukon does follow the British Columbia K-12 curriculum).