First of all I would like to thank Sevenstar Academy for the opportunity to post this to their the Sevenstar Blog. Note that it is being re-posted here, but with the comments closed. If you wish to comment, please visit the entry on the the Sevenstar Blog at http://blog.sevenstar.org/blog/bid/304290/An-Overview-of-Christian-K-12-Online-Learning-In-Canada.

A few weeks ago I was asked to prepare a guest blog entry by the social media folks at Sevenstar Academy. As I reflected on what I could focus on that might be of interest to the readers of the the Sevenstar Blog, and after some reflection I decided to focus on the topic of Christian education through K-12 online learning in Canada.

canadaUnlike the United States, certain provinces actually provide publicly-funded access to Christian education. The history of this national oddity has its roots in the British North America Act, 1867 (later to become the Constitution Act, 1867). In the BNA Act, section 91 and section 92 outline the responsibilities given to the federal government (i.e., section 91) and to the provincial governments (i.e., section 92). Education fell into section 92 or under the governance of the provinces (in much the same way that education is of local jurisdiction in the United States – although recent federal encroachment and federal funding programs might lead one to believe otherwise).  What this has meant for the development of public education in Canada is that each provincial system is quite different.

The nature of each province’s education system is based on what existed at the time the province joined Canada.  Essentially, whatever was funded by the responsible government that was in place in that jurisdiction prior to Confederation (i.e., joining Canada), was what was publicly funded when that jurisdiction became a province.  For example, in 1867 there existed both a publicly funded public system and a publicly funded Catholic system in Ontario.  So when Canada was created, both systems were publicly funded in the Province of Ontario.  Similarly, in Newfoundland and Labrador there existed a publicly funded Anglican, United Church, Salvation Army, Catholic, and Pentecostal systems of education.  After 1949 (i.e., when Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada), all of these systems continued to be publicly funded (although the Anglican, United Church, and Salvation Army education systems eventually merged in the 1960s to form a single integrated system).  In fact, it took a constitutional amendment in the 1990s to create a single public education system in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In the same way there are publicly funded brick-and-mortar Catholic education schools and districts, many of these provinces also have Catholic online learning programs.  For example, in the Province of Ontario these programs are represented by the cooperative Ontario Catholic e-Learning Consortium.  Even some of the limited research into K-12 online learning in Canada is focused on Catholic education.  Research studies by Litke in the Journal of Distance Education and by Tunison and Noonan in the Canadian Journal of Education were conducted in Catholic K-12 online learning programs.

In provinces where Catholic education is not publicly funded, many brick-and-mortar school and K-12 online learning programs have chosen to establish themselves under independent school regulations/legislation (i.e., private schools).  For example, in British Columbia the provincial government provides 50% of the funding to independent schools and numerous K-12 online learning programs have been created under these regulations (this has been recently increased to 62%).  In fact, the largest K-12 online learning program in all of Canada is a Catholic online learning program (i.e., Heritage Christian Online School with over 3000 students).

Many of the specifics of publicly funded Catholic K-12 online learning has been outlined in the annual State of the Nation: K-12 Online Learning in Canada reports, including specific vignettes that highlight individual programs and brief issue papers that feature some of the outreach activities undertaken by some of these Catholic K-12 online learning programs.

First of all I would like to thank Sevenstar Academy for the opportunity to post this to their the Sevenstar Blog. Note that it is being re-posted here, but with the comments closed. If you wish to comment, please visit the entry on the the Sevenstar Blog at http://blog.sevenstar.org/blog/bid/304290/An-Overview-of-Christian-K-12-Online-Learning-In-Canada.

Christian K-12 Online Learning In Canada

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