ns Population: 942,926
Number of K-12 Schools: 395
Number of K-12 Students: 119,383
Number of K-12 E-Learning Programs: 2
Number of K-12 E-Learning Students: ~2,500

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

K-12 E-Learning Programs

There are two distance education programs in the province. First, the Nova Scotia Virtual School (NSVS) provided online courses to approximately 1300 students from the seven English-speaking school boards and the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial during the 2015-16 school year. Second, the correspondence studies program provided courses to approximately 1200 students enrolled in courses through the correspondence study program. Close to half of these 1200 students attend a public school, while the other half are adult students, home-schooled students or students living outside of Nova Scotia. Currently, work is ongoing to transition these correspondence courses to an online delivery format.

There were also a number of blended learning initiatives in Nova Scotia that are being implemented in the school system. There are increasing expectations that students at all grade levels will utilize technology and online resources to demonstrate achievement of curriculum outcomes. For example, Google Apps for Education is now available to all students, teachers, and administrators province-wide and at the end of the first year of implementation approximately 80% of students and teachers in the province have accounts.  Further, the Department provides a blended learning platform through the learning management system Moodle that was extensively used in classrooms around the province to support instruction as well as to support professional learning communities for teachers.

Finally, the 2015 Nova Scotia Action Plan for Education makes additional commitments to the growth of online and blended learning. Specifically, the Plan indicates that the Department will:

  • continue to improve program delivery in the Nova Scotia Virtual School to provide students with even more flexible options and teaching support;
  • provide students with varied learning opportunities with school technology, including the use of digital learning resources, completion of on-line course offered by the Nova Scotia Virtual School, participation in bring-your-own-device learning activities, and completion of blended learning projects; and
  • offer online learning opportunities to middle school students to prepare them for online courses in high school.

Governance and Regulation

The Learning Resources and Technology Services division of the Education Innovation, Programs and Services branch of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development manages distance education programs in Nova Scotia and works cooperatively with a Management Board representing all school boards in the province.

The provision of distance education through the Nova Scotia Virtual School continues to be governed by the eleven provisions included in the agreement between the Government of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. As a contract between the Government and teachers’ union, most of the provisions deal with teacher certification and quality of life issues. For example, there are provisions related to defining the workday, professional development requirements, program oversight, and class size.

Previous Provincial Profiles

History of K-12 E-Learning

Beginning about 1917, when soldiers were returning from World War 1, the distance education program started by offering correspondence education opportunities to obtain high school graduation certificates. Through the years, Nova Scotia has had rich distance education programming to take advantage of various technologies as they became available (radio, television, internet, email, telephone, video conferencing).

An educational television program (ETV) began in 1960, but is no longer in operation. It was funded by the Department of Education and began as a way of providing instruction from competent teachers in high school mathematics, science, and French as a second language to students in rural schools. It consisted of a partnership with the Canadian Broadcasting Company to develop and then broadcast the high school curriculum. By the late 1970’s, ETV was changing from direct teaching of individual classes to the creation of broader educational resources that were not otherwise available. The most notable was the Mi’kmaq series that recreated four seasons in pre-European contact Maritimes.

The Nova Scotia Virtual School (NSVS) was created from this long history of distance education, as well as a more recent history of individual, district-level, web-based initiatives that had been operating throughout the province (i.e., Strait Regional School Board Virtual School and Chignecto-Central Virtual School). In 2011-12, funding for NSVS was increased to allow course offerings to be brought together under one provincial umbrella, to increase course development, to enhance course quality and infrastructure, and to provide sustainable online learning to all public high school students.  Planning for growth and innovation for NSVS is accomplished through a Management Board with representation from every school board in the province and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. This cooperative structure works together to advance online learning opportunities for Nova Scotia students.


Individual Program Survey Responses

Program Most recent response  Medium  # of Students  # of Teachers  # of Courses 
Nova Scotia Virtual School
2015-16 Online ~1300 15 full-time  44
Nova Scotia Correspondence Study Program
2015-16 Correspondence ~1,200 *  27
École virtuelle du Conseil scolaire acadien provincial 2010-11 Online 32 1 full-time 6

* The Nova Scotia Correspondence Study Program utilizes markers on an as needed basis.

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

Inter-provincial and International

Any online course from an online program outside of the province taken by a student in Nova Scotia would be reviewed at the school or board level to determine if an equivalent course exists.

Unless a student is registered in a public school in Nova Scotia students are not eligible to take an online course through the NSVS.  If an adult student within the province or a student from outside of Nova Scotia were interested in taking a distance education course from a program located in Nova Scotia, the student would be directed to the province’s correspondence study program.  For out-of-province students who successfully complete courses through this program, the Ministry issues a completion certificate and sends a transcript to schools as requested.