The purpose of the State of the Nation: K-12 E-Learning in Canada study is to provide an overview of the state of K-12 distance, online and blended learning in Canada. The goals of the study are to explore how K-12 distance, online and blended learning governed, as well as the level of activity occurring in each jurisdiction.
For the purposes of the State of the Nation: K-12 E-Learning in Canada annual study, e-learning will be defined to include all forms of K-12 distance education (e.g., correspondence, audiographics/telematics, videoconferencing, online learning, etc.), as well as identified instances of blended learning. This does mean that even though most educators in Canada still consider blended learning a form of technology integration, the researchers for the State of the Nation: K-12 E-Learning in Canada report will attempt to identify and describe the level of activity and nature of regulation for K-12 blended learning in each jurisdiction (in addition to the level of activity and nature of regulation for K-12 distance education).
For more information about how we define e-learning, please review the 2015 brief issue paper entitled “Defining E-Learning in Canada.”
Defining Additional Terminology
As with any national project in Canada, there is a great deal of variation from province to province and territory to territory. This variation is also true when it comes to the terms used to describe various aspects of education in Canada. For example, in some jurisdictions there are school districts, in other jurisdictions there are school boards, in some jurisdictions there are district school boards, and other jurisdictions where there are education councils. For the purposes of this study, the authors will use the term “district” to refer to the geographic organizations that operate the province’s or territory’s publicly-funded schools.
Similarly, the authors have chosen to use the generic term of “program” to include any entity that is authorized to provide distance, online and/or blended learning. For example, in some jurisdictions this is a province-wide entity that is housed in or semi-autonomous from the Ministry of Education (e.g., the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador or the Nova Scotia Virtual School). In other jurisdictions this is a provincially funded entity offered through a school authority (e.g., the Alberta Distance Learning Centre or le Centre francophone d’éducation à distance [CFÉD] in Alberta). Further, there are jurisdictions where it is an independent entity that has been authorized to provide some form of distance, online and/or blended learning (e.g., LEARN in Quebec or le Consortium d’apprentissage virtuel de langue française de l’Ontario [CAVLFO]). For many jurisdictions is it a designated school authority – such as a school district or a private school (e.g., the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board or Keewaytinook Internet High School in Ontario, the Prairie South Virtual School in Saskatchewan, Heritage Christian Online School in British Columbia, or the Beaufort Delta Education Council in the Northwest Territories). Additionally, there are some instances where a brick and mortar school is delivering a portion of their curricular offerings online (e.g., Navigate in British Columbia). Finally, in several jurisdictions two or more of these situations exist (e.g., there are school districts, private schools, and independent entities that all formally provide some form of distance, online, and blended learning). For the purposes of this study, the authors will use the term “program” to refer to any of these types of entities or providers.
For those familiar with K-12 online learning in the United States, most of the terms utilized are consistent with terms used to describe K-12 distance, online and blended learning in Canada. However, there are some differences. Often in the United States supplemental online programs are referred to as virtual schools, while online charter schools are referred to as cyber schools. Charter schools do not exist in most Canadian provinces; as such, the terms virtual school and cyber school are used interchangeably. In Canada, there is no separation of church and state. As such, several provinces have both a government-funded public school system and a government-funded Catholic school system. Other terms that may be unfamiliar to a non-Canadian audience include:
Anglophone – English-speaking person
Francophone – French-speaking person
First Nations, Metis and Inuit – first inhabitants of Canada (also referred to as aboriginals)
Finally, as a general statement, the authors of this report make use of the definitions provided by the Virtual School Glossary project in most other areas.
Over the years there have been a variety of sections that have formed part of the State of the Nation: K-12 E-Learning in Canada annual report. Generally speaking, the report has been divided into the following sections:
- trends in e-learning,
- brief issue papers,
- national overview,
- provincial, territorial, and federal profiles,
- individual programs survey, and
Beginning with the fifth annual report, the “Trends in Canadian K-12 E-Learning” section examines themes from the practice and research related to K-12 distance, online and blended learning over the past year. Each of the trends are discussed individually, with an effort to incorporate specific data from the past year – as well as historical information – to support each trend.
The “Brief Issue Papers” section is a more detailed discussion of specific issues related to the design, delivery and support of K–12 distance, online and blended learning in Canada. This section first appeared in the third annual report. Each brief issue paper is written by an individual not directly associated with the research team. Most individuals were recruited by the research team to contribute a brief issue paper (often on a specific topic). Each brief issue paper is edited for style and length by the research team, but not for content. The content is solely the discretion of the brief issue paper author.
The “National Overview” section outlines general themes in the annual data from coast-to-coast-to-coast: first, in the level and type of e-learning activity and, second, in the nature of regulation. It also includes individual profiles for each province and territory, as well as those programs that fall under federal jurisdiction. Each profile is designed to explore the level of K-12 e-learning activity and regulations in that province or territory. The profiles are organized in the following manner:
- a detailed description of the distance, online and blended learning programs operating in that jurisdiction;
- a discussion of the various legislative and regulatory documents (e.g., ministerial directives, collective agreements, memorandums of understanding, and departmental memorandum) that govern how these distance, online and blended learning programs operate;
- links to previous annual profiles (online version only);
- an exploration of the history of e-learning in that jurisdiction;
- links to vignettes (i.e., stories designed to provide a more personalized perspective of those involved in K–12 e-learning), which have been included off and on since the second annual report, for that jurisdiction (n.b., vignettes are edited for style and length, but not for content);
- links to any brief issues papers that have a specific focus on e-learning in that jurisdiction;
- the most recent responses to the individual program survey (online version only since the sixth annual report); and
- an overview of the jurisdictions policies related to importing and exporting e-learning.
It should also be noted that the information in these profiles are simply a snapshot in time. As the field of K-12 e-learning is rapidly changing, the currency of the information is limited to the realities of when the profile was written.
The “Individual Programs Survey” section the report is organized in a regional fashion. Information about the specific programs located in each of the four regions of Canada (i.e., Atlantic, Central, Western, and Northern) were provided based on the individual program survey that was conducted (see http://tinyurl.com/sotn-program-survey to update your program’s response). As indicated above, within this website the responses to the individual program survey have been incorporated into the individual profiles for each jurisdiction.
Finally, many of the earlier printed reports (and associated PDF versions of those reports) concluded with a listing of resources specific to the various provinces and territories.