Population: 5,200,000
Number of K-12 Schools: 1,942
Number of K-12 Students: ~673,000
.
Number of K-12 E-Learning Programs: 68
Number of K-12 E-Learning Students: ~85,000

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

Governance and Regulation

Historically, the Ministry of Education had defined 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 been governed by 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. Both pieces of legislation contain similar language concerning the establishment of distributed learning schools “only with the prior agreement of the Minister” and ensuring that students may exercise their rights under legislation to choose distributed learning instruction within a coordinated province-wide distributed learning system. Districts and independent school authorities that entered into an agreement with the Ministry are required to:

  • commit to meet or exceed the Distributed Learning Standards;
  • for public distributed learning schools, agree to participate in the Quality Assurance Review process and align its website to meet Ministry requirements; for independent distributed learning schools this quality assurance function is conducted through scheduled inspections as set out in the Independent School Act;
  • ensure it has supports in place to comply with the Ministry policy and standards;
  • provide training and professional development for teachers, and – for public distributed learning schools – employ 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 from a public distributed learning school 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
  • ensure each public distributed learning school provides 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. For full time students in kindergarten to grade 9 in traditional bricks and mortar schools, school districts are funded one time for a program of studies as at September 30th (students in seats), while students in grades 10-12 are funded per enroled course. K-9 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 2020-21 school year, the basic allocation school-age equivalent (i.e., FTE) for students attending a brick-and-mortar school was $7,560 (or $945/course), while only $6,100 (or $762.50/course) for a student attending a distributed learning school. Further, Group 1 independent schools receive 63% of the public distributed learning per pupil amount (all independent distributed learning schools in the province have Group 1 Certification).

However, beginning with a 2018 review of the distributed learning funding, the Ministry of Education has worked with educators to implement a new provincial model for online learning. This process culminated with the passage of Education Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 or Bill 8 on March 4, 2020. Bill 8 changed distributed learning n the School Act and the Independent School Act in three key ways:

  • changed the term “distributed learning” to “online learning”;
  • enabled School Districts and Independent School Authorities to offer online learning courses and programs to their local (or ‘in-district’) students without an agreement with the Minister; and
  • required online learning schools to have an agreement with the Minister to enrol students from outside their district boundary (i.e., out-of-district enrolment) or to enrol students simultaneously enrolled with another board or independent school authority (i.e., cross enrolment). (Government of British Columbia, 2020)

The full enactment of Bill 8 was scheduled for July 1, 2021, and will begin with an interim year during the 2021-22 school year with seven interim online learning policies in place and all 68 online learning schools being held interim online learning agreements.K-12 Distance and Online Learning Activity

K-12 Distance and Online Learning Activity

The Ministry tracks student enrolment through the 1701 data collections that occur in September, February, and May. These collections show the schools attended along with the demographic characteristics of students, and programs provided to students.

In 2020-21 there were 52 district-level public distributed learning schools and 16 independent distributed learning schools that enrolled approximately 85,000 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 Western Canadian Learning Network is a consortium of school districts providing online courses and digital resources for use by distributed learning schools in British Columbia, as well as Alberta and the Yukon.

K-12 Blended Learning Activity

As online learning is defined as primarily online and/or at a distance, there is implicit acknowledgement of the existence of blended learning in the province. Both online learning and in-person schools are able to offer blended programs. However, the Ministry of Education does gather data on separate blended learning program enrolment.

Remote Learning

Spring 2020 Closure

Schools in British Columbia (BC) closed on March 17, 2020. The province published the Continuity of Learning: Planning Guide for Teachers which provided guidance and links to resource sites and online webinars highlighting the use of technology tools, and the Keep Learning BC website which offered activities, resources, and health advice with a focus on literacy, numeracy, core competencies, and the First Peoples Principles of Learning. The distribution of physical equipment was left to school districts, however, the Ministry noted that more than 23,000 computers and devices had been loaned out to students. At a minimum teachers were required to contact each student at least weekly with more frequent contact encouraged and attendance requirements for students were left to be determined at the local level. Formal examinations were not required however teachers were required to provide formal weekly reports for each student with summary reports consolidated by each district and sent to the Ministry. In-school learning began June 1, 2020, using a hybrid model of online and classroom learning with alternating cohorts of students to ensure physical distancing. All boards were required to implement strict health and safety protocols as defined and monitored by provincial health authorities and WorkSafeBC.

Fall 2020 Reopening

The start of the 2020-21 school year was delayed by two days and opened with in-school learning however students could choose online or distributed learning options. Added health measures included physical distancing, staggering breaks and transition times, and signage to direct the flow of student traffic. Elementary cohorts were between 20 and 30 students and learning groups were capped at 60 students, which limited the number of students who could interact. Secondary school learning groups were capped at 120 students. Masks were not mandatory and the curriculum included an added focus on mental health and well-being for grades K-12.

2020-21 School Year

The 2020-21 school year proceeded with in-person learning but there remained remote learning options for students across the province in many school districts as well as the online or distributed learning options. Students continued with cohorts or ‘learning groups’ in-school, with 20-30 students in each group with the maximum number per group was 60 in elementary and 120 for secondary. Full curriculum expectations, assessments, and reporting were in place during this school year. The provincial government allocated $8.2 million to specifically support Indigenous learners to address learning loss, mental health, and technology for remote learning.

References

Government of British Columbia. (2020). Bill 8: Education Statutes Amendment Act, 2020. Queen’s Printer. https://www.leg.bc.ca/Pages/BCLASS-Legacy.aspx#%2Fcontent%2Fdata%2520-%2520ldp%2Fpages%2F41st5th%2F3rd_read%2Fgov08-3.htm

Nagle, J., Barbour, M. K., & LaBonte, R. (2020a). Documenting triage: Detailing the response of provinces and territories to emergency remote teaching. Canadian eLearning Network. https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.227/sgf.292.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Documenting-Triage-canelearn-emergency-remote-teaching-report1.pdf

Nagle, J., Barbour, M. K., & LaBonte, R. (2021). Toggling between lockdowns: Canadian responses for continuity of learning in the 2020-21 school year. Canadian eLearning Network. https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.153/sgf.292.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/canelearn-2020-21-school-year.pdf

Nagle, J., LaBonte, R., & Barbour, M. K. (2020b). A fall like no other: Between basics and preparing for an extended transition during turmoil. Canadian eLearning Network. https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.227/sgf.292.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/A-Fall-Like-No-Other-canelearn-remote-teaching-report2.pdf

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.

References

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

Vignettes

Brief Issue Papers

Individual Program Survey Responses

 

 Program  Most recent response   Medium   # of Students   # of Teachers   # of Courses 
Abbotsford Virtual School
avs34.com
2018-19 Online
Blended
2,900 online
40 blended
16 full time
6 part time
14 blended
95 online
55 blended
Anchor Academy
www.ark.net/
2018-19 Online
Correspondence
872 30 full time
5 part time
114 (gr. 10-12)
full K-9 program
ASCEND Online
www.ascendonline.ca
2019-20 Online
Correspondence
420 ~20 full time
~15 part time
~60 (gr. 10-12)
full K-9 program
Bulkley Valley Education Connection
www.schoolius.com/school/1507332162859575/
Bulkley+Valley+Education+Connection
2019-20 Online
Blended
600 supplemental
16 elementary
45 blended
2 full time
1 part time
45 (gr. 10-12)
full K-9 program
Burnaby Online Program
online.burnabyschools.ca
2019-20 Online 2,200 (2018-19) 7 full time
8 part time
70 secondary
full K-7 program
Choices DL
sd70.bc.ca/school/cdl
2016-17 Online
Correspondence
Blended
200 FTE distance*
60% students blended
4 full time
all blended
40 grades 8-12
full K-7 program
Christian Homelearners eStreams
www.estreams.ca
2017-18 Online
Correspondence
200 7 full time
3 part time
some grades 10-12
full K-9 program
Coquitlam Open Learning
www.sd43.bc.ca/col/Pages/landing.aspx
2016-17 Online
Correspondence
Blended
~2,500 distance 7 full time
18 part time
3 blended
35+ distance
3 blended
Creston Homelinks
homelinks.sd8.bc.ca
2016-17 Online
Correspondence
Blended
130.5 FTE distance*
130.5 FTE blended*
3 full time
3 part time
6 blended
42 secondary
full K–9 program
Delta Access
www.deltasd.bc.ca/content/programs/deltaaccess
2018-19 Online 185.625 FTE 15 part time 41
Distance Education School of the Kootenays
desk.sd8.bc.ca
2015-16 Online
Correspondence
Blended
1,000 distance
14 blended
5 full time
3 part time
1 blended
33 distance
1 blended
Diversity by Design DL Academy
diversitybydesign.ca
2012-13 Online
Correspondence
100 2 full time
7 part time
~80
Ebus Academy
ebus.ca
2019-20 Online 1.092 FTE 39 full time
4 part time
29 grades 7-9;  78 grades 10-12
full K-6 program
École Virtuelle CSF
ecolevirtuelle.csf.bc.ca/
2014-15 Online
Blended
204 online
12 blended
6 part time online
1 full time blended
19 online
1 blended
Education Outreach Program
eopmoodle.sd83.bc.ca/
2017-18 Online ~500 2 full time
2 part time
108
eSchoolBC
www.eSchoolBC.com
2017-18 Online
Blended
3,000 online
3,000 blended
6 full time
6 part time
6 blended
60 online
10 blended
Fraser Valley Distance Education School
www.fvdes.com
2012-13 Online
Correspondence
~3,500 30 full time
1 part time
~150
The Grove (Cowichan Valley Distributed Learning)
www.cowichanopenlearning.ca/dl.html
2019-20 Correspondence
Online
Blended
125 full time (K-9)
50 FTE (gr. 10-12) distance
125 blended
6 full time
2 part time
3 blended
~60 secondary
125 K–9 program
Hands-On Home-Learning
oakandorca.ca/handson/index.html
2014-15  Correspondence (PDFs) 82  12 part time
Heritage Christian Online School
www.onlineschool.ca
2021-22 Online
Correspondence
Blended
7,000 distance
1,000 blended
70 full time
130 part time
31 blended
311 distance
50 blended
Home Learners Program at Hume Park
humepark.ca
2020-21 Online
Correspondence
139 2 full time
3 part time
full K-9 program
Home Quest
homequest.deltasd.bc.ca/home
2021-22 Online 150 5 full time full K-9 program
Island ConnectEd K-12
island-connected.sd68.bc.ca/
2020-21 Online
Correspondence
Blended
3,515 42 full time
5 part time
full K-9 program
65 secondary
Juan de Fuca Distributed Learning
jdfdl.web.sd62.bc.ca/
2015-16 Online
Correspondence
2,800 distance
1200 blended
8 full time
22 part time
23 blended
55 distance
26 blended
Kamloops Open Online Learning
kool.sd73.bc.ca
2018-19 Online
Blended
2,500 distance
500 blended
3 full time
25 part time
20 blended
140 distance
60 blended
Key Learning Centre – NBCDES
www.keylearning.ca
2019-20 Online
Correspondence
Blended
425 FTE (2,800 head count)
12 blended
5 full time
2 part time
1 blended
130+ secondary
full K–7 program
K-1 blended
Kleos Open Learning
www.kleos.ca
2020-21 Online
Correspondence
375 distance 20 full time
7 part time
K–12
Kootenay Discovery School
www.sd5.bc.ca/school/kds/Pages/default.aspx
2020-21 Online
Blended
100 online
75 blended
3 full time
3 part time
3 blended
72
Navigate (NIDES)
navigatenides.com/
2019-20 Online
Blended
2,109 distance
380 blended
>90 full time
~20 part time
~20 blended
>70 distance
full K–9 program blended
Next Step Outreach Program
www.nextstepoutreach.com/
2017-18 Online
Correspondence
Blended
400 online
400 blended
1 full time
1 blended
20 online
20 blended
North Coast Distance Education School
ncdes.ca
2012-13 Online
Correspondence
~3,400 8 full time 65
North Vancouver Distributed Learning School
www.sd44.ca/school/distributed/Pages/default.aspx
2016-17 Online
Correspondence
Blended
 ~3,000 distance
~550 blended
8 full time
15 part time
6 blended
57 distance
3 blended
Partners in Education
www.sd47.bc.ca/school/pie/Pages/default.aspx
2019-20 Online
Correspondence
 673 6 full time
14 part time
100+
Pathways Academy
www.pathwaysacademy.ca
2019-20 Online
Correspondence
 266 6 full time
12 part time
Quesnel Distributed Learning School
qdlonline.com
2015-16 Online
Correspondence
Blended
150 online
35 blended
2 full time
1 part time
1 blended
25 online
16 blended
Regent Christian Online Academy (RCOA)
www.rcoa.ca
2020-21 Online
Correspondence
Blended
1,336 online
1,124 blended
9 full time
98 part time
64 blended
159 online
145 blended
Richmond Virtual School
RichmondVirtualSchool.ca
2020-21 Online
Blended
400 online
1,600 blended
18 full time
1 part time
30 blended
6 online
20 blended
Rocky Mountain Distributed Learning School
getsmartbc.ca
2015-16 Online ~350 3 full time 75
Sea to Sky Online School
www.seatoskyonline.com
2020-21 Online
Blended
650 distance
~1,000 blended
3 full time
2 part time
1 blended
~50 distance
1 blended
SelfDesign Learning Community
www.selfdesign.org
2020-21 Online 1,640 K-9
420 secondary
70 full time
111 part time
full K-9 program
95 secondary
South Central Interior Distance Education School
www.scides.ca/
2020-21 Online
Correspondence
1,700 distance 8 full time
7 part time
89 distance
South Island Distance Education School
www.sides.ca/en.html
2019-20 Online
Correspondence
~3,400 students 27 full time
9 part time
full K–8 program
42 secondary
South Peace Distributed Learning
dcss.sd59.bc.ca/spc/spdl
2015-16 Online
Correspondence
55 FTE* 1 full time
4 part time
16
Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning
www.sailacademy.ca
2016-17 Online
Correspondence
Blended
~2,000 distance 21 full time
300+ blended
80+
Traditional Learning Academy
www.schoolathome.ca
2019-20 Online
Correspondence
Blended
1,200 distance
200 blended
40 full time
35 part time
18 blended
80 distance
22 blended
Valley Christian School DL
www.valleychristianschool.ca/
2020-21 Online  23 8 full time
1 part time
 full K-8
Vancouver Learning Network
vlns.ca/
2016-17 Online
Correspondence
 ~5,000 8 full time
31 part time
 ~90
Vernon Virtual Learning
vlearn.ca
2017-18 Online
Correspondence
Blended
1,200 distance (248 FTE)
70 blended
7 full time
5 part time
72 secondary & 80 elementary (distance)
5 blended
vLearn Personalized Education
sd22.bc.ca/vlearn/
2020-21 Online 400 full time
2,000 part time
12 full time
18 part time
200
YouLearn.ca
youlearn.ca
2016-17 Online
Correspondence
630 6 full time
3 part time
48

* 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).