Population: 13,537,994
Number of K-12 Schools: 4,893
Number of K-12 Students: 2,003,253
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Number of K-12 Distance Education Programs: ~81
Number of K-12 Distance Education Students: ~94,500

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

Each of the 60 English-speaking and 12 French-speaking school boards have the ability to offer some form of online learning using the Ministry-sponsored learning management system combined with the online curricular materials provided or their own. Many of the school boards also participate in one or more consortia designed to allow its school board members to work together to maximize their online offerings by sharing course offerings, resources and students. Additionally, the Independent Learning Centre (ILC) continues to provide correspondence distance education opportunities to adolescent and adult students throughout the province. Finally, there are as many as eight different private or independent K-12 online learning programs, some of whom have formed their own consortium.

The last year the Ministry of Education provided data to researchers was for the 2013-14, when they reported that there were approximately 52,095 students taking e-learning courses (including summer school).  Based on less than 10 responses to the individual program survey that indicated an average growth in public school board programs of 15%, researchers estimated that there were approximately 60,000 students taking e-learning courses during the 2014-15 school year.  Data from more than 20 school board programs over the past two years have indicated that those programs have experienced a 30% to 35% growth in enrollment over the past two years.  Based on this information, it is estimated that there are approximately 67,000 students taking e-learning courses during the 2015-16 school year.  It is also estimated the ILC had approximately 20,000 students enrolled in their correspondence courses. Finally, the most recent data available indicated there were approximately 7,500 students enrolled in private online schools.

It should also be noted that in their last response to researchers, the Ministry of Education also indicated that there were approximately 237,930 unique blended learning logins in their system during the 2013-14 school year.

Governance and Regulation

Since 2006, the Provincial e-Learning Strategy has guided the Ministry to provide school boards with various supports necessary to provide students with online and blended learning opportunities, as well as providing e-learning leadership within the provincially funded school system. Under this policy, the Ministry provides school board with access to a learning management system and other tools for the delivery of e-learning, asynchronous course content and a variety of multimedia learning objects, and a variety of other technical and human resource supports.  School boards, who are responsible for the actual delivery of e-learning, must sign a “Master User Agreement” (e.g., see http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/elearning/MasterUserAgreement.pdf) to access all of the services that the Ministry provides.

Private online schools operate as a business in Ontario, independent of the Ministry of Education. Those schools offering credits towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma require an inspection. Inspectors look for evidence of ongoing interactions between the teacher and students in the online learning environment, and for a direct link between the specific and overall curriculum expectations being taught and assessed in compliance with Ministry policy and observed practices. Inspectors review online courses for compliance with Growing Success, 2010.

Previous Provincial Profiles

History of K-12 E-Learning

Like many jurisdictions, the origins of K-12 e-learning in Ontario are found in the print-based medium.  In 1926, the Correspondence Courses program (which later became the Independent Learning Centre) was established by the Ontario Department of Education “to provide elementary education for children living in isolated areas of northern Ontario”(Ontario Educational Communications Authority, 2016, para. 7).  Courses covering the complete secondary school curriculum were available by the 1950s.

There is actually some disagreement over the development of K-12 online learning in the province.  For example, Barker and Wendel (2001) indicate that the first K-12 online learning established in the province was the Avon Maitland Distance Education Centre, which organized by the Avon Maitland District School Board in Ontario in 1994-95 (although the program did not offer any courses until 1997-98). As such, Barker, Wendall and Richmond (1999) claim that the first K-12 online learning program to actually offer courses was the Electronic Distance Education Network – a project originally designed by the Orillia Learning Centre of the Simcoe County District School Board to deliver high school courses to adults – during the 1995-96 school year.  However, Smallwood, Reaburn and Baker (2015) argue that Virtual High School (Ontario) is the oldest K-12 online learning program in Ontario, offering its first course in 1995.

By 2000, there were several district-based programs in operation in the province. Joining Avon Maitland and Simcoe, were school boards in Trillium Lakelands, Peel, Durham and Toronto – all of whom were operating in isolation and using a variety of systems. In September 2000, many of these school boards came together to form the Ontario Strategic Alliance for e-Learning. This Alliance operated under a co-operative model where each district was responsible for writing two courses and student enrollments were shared across the Alliance. This Alliance would eventually grow into the Ontario e-Learning Consortium by the 2005-06 school year.

In September 2004, the Ministry of Education began to play a more active role. The first steps involved a survey of all of the distance education courses currently being offered throughout the province, which eventually led to the decision to host a provincial course management system and create a standard set of online courses that all school boards could use. Since 2006, the Provincial e-Learning Strategy has guided the Ministry to provide school districts with various supports necessary to provide students with online and blended learning opportunities, as well as providing e-learning leadership within the provincially funded school system. School districts are responsible for the delivery of online learning.

It should be also noted that the French-language school boards in Ontario have also been active in distance education, and this activity is believed to have a longer history than that of the English language boards. Unfortunately, there is little published information in English about this activity.

References

Barker, K., & Wendel, T. (2001). e-Learning: Studying Canada’s virtual secondary schools. Kelowna, BC: Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education. Retrieved from http://web.archive.org/web/20040720185017/http://www.saee.ca/pdfs/006.pdf

Barker, K., Wendel, T., & Richmond, M. (1999). Linking the literature: School effectiveness and virtual schools. Vancouver, BC: FuturEd. Retrieved from http://web.archive.org/web/20061112102653/http://www.futured.com/pdf/Virtual.pdf

Ontario Educational Communications Authority. (2016). ILC mandate and origins. Toronto, ON: Television Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.ilc.org/about/our_mandate.php

Smallwood, J., Reaburn, J., & Baker, S. (2015). Virtual High School (Ontario): A case study of an online private school. In T Clark & M. K. Barbour (Eds.), Online, blended and distance education in schools: Building successful programs (pp. 144-155). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Vignettes

Brief Issue Papers

Individual Program Survey Responses

Program Most recent response  Medium  # of Students  # of Teachers  # of Courses 
Algoma District School Board
http://www.adsb.on.ca
2010-11 Online 46
750*
14 full time 125
Avon Maitland District eLearning Centre
http://www.amdec.ca
2015-16 Online 1,567 7 full time
14 part time
74
Bluewater District School Board
https://bwdsb.elearningontario.ca/
2010-11 Online 120 9 part time 8
Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board
https://bgcdsb.elearningontario.ca/
2010-11 Online 10 1 part time 7
Consortium d’apprentissage virtuel de langue française de l’Ontario 2016-17 Online 2,621 23 full time 98
Durham Catholic District School Board eLearning
https://durhamrc.elearningontario.ca
2012-13 Online 350 21 full time
1 part time
11
eLearning Consortium Canada
http://elccanada.ca
2014-15 Online
Blended
~300
~190
10-15
Grand Erie District School Board Virtual Academy
http://gecdsb.elearningontario.ca
2012-13 Online 167 7 full time 7
Grand Erie District School Board eLearning Program
http://gedsb.elearningontario.ca
2012-13 Online
Correspondence
1,849 13 full time
44 part time
30
Halton District School Board
https://hdsb.elearningontario.ca/
2010-11 Online 275 11 full time 10
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
https://hwdsb.elearningontario.ca/
2010-11 Online 400 24 part time 20
Independent Learning Centre
http://www.ilc.org
2012-13 Correspondence
Online
26,907 6 full time
77 part time
128
James Bay Lowlands Secondary School Board 2010-11 Online 1 1 part time 1
Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board e-Learning
http://kprdsb.elearningontario.ca
2016-17 Online 1229 19 part time 39
LDSB Minds Online
https://ldsb.elearningontario.ca
2016-17 Online 180 10 part time 10
Nimbus Christian Education 2011-12 Online ***
Northwest Catholic District School Board 2010-11 Online 85* 3 full time 3
Ottawa-Carleton District School Board eLearning
http://www.ocdsb.ca/programs/sec/ol/elearning/Pages/default.aspx
2014-15 Online
Blended
1496
7085****
32 part time 37
Quinte Adult Education (HPEDSB)
http://quinteadulteducation.ca
2015-16 Online
Correspondence
2034 1 full time
21 part time
109
Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board
https://pvnccdsb.elearningontario.ca/
2010-11 Online 104 3 full time 9
Rainbow District School Board
https://rdsb.elearningontario.ca/
2010-11 Online 213 10 part time 14
Rainy River District School Board
https://rrdsb.elearningontario.ca / http://moodle.rrdsb.com
2010-11 Online 106 6 part time 7
Simcoe County District School Board eLearning
http://www.scdsb.on.ca/Programs/elearning
2015-16 Online 416 3 full time 18
Virtual Elementary School – Ontario
https://www.virtualelementaryschool.com/
2015-16 Online 35 2 part time 9
Virtual High School – Ontario
http://www.virtualhighschool.com
2016-17 Online 6,118 credits 92 part time 72
Virtual Learning Centre / Open School Ontario
http://www.virtuallearning.ca / http://www.openschoolontario.ca
2016-17 Online ~600 13 full time
16 part time
50
Waterloo Region District School Board e-Learning
https://wrdsb.elearningontario.ca
2015-16 Online
Blended
~2,500 online
~8,000 blended
90 full time
75 part time
~400 blended
155 online
~400 blended

* This is the number of students enrolled in blended courses.
** The Consortium represents 12 individual French-language district school boards. These figures represent the combined totals for all 12 programs.
*** Their online program only began September 2012.
**** Unable to pinpoint exactly how many students involved in blended learning only, as many of the 1,496 who took eLearning courses could have also enrolled in blended courses.

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

Inter-provincial and International

A student registered in an Ontario school who takes a course from an online program in another province, territory or country is able to receive recognition for the learning through the Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) challenge process.  Under this process students have their skills and knowledge evaluated against the overall expectations outlined in the appropriate provincial curriculum policy document to receive credit towards their Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). PLAR procedures are carried out under the direction of the school principal who grants the credit. Students may be granted a maximum of four credits through the PLAR challenge process.

Ontario’s publicly funded school boards may offer online programs to students living outside of Ontario provided they do not use the provincial learning management system which is licensed for use only by Ontario students and educators.  A credit is granted in recognition for the successful completion of a course that has been scheduled for a minimum of 110 hours.  Credits are granted by a principal on behalf of the Minister of Education for courses that have been developed or approved by the Ministry. For the purpose of granting a credit, scheduled time is defined as the time during which students participate in planned learning activities designed to lead to the achievement of the curriculum expectations of a course.