Population: 1,380,000
Number of K-12 Schools: 914
Number of K-12 Students: 186,372

Number of K-12 E-Learning Programs: ~38
Number of K-12 E-Learning Students: ~8,173

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

Governance and Regulation

The only reference in the Public Schools Act regarding distance education is mention that the Minister of Education can approve courses of study, including correspondence and other courses. Distance Learning is defined by Manitoba Education as:

  • a method of accessing courses of study even though learners and their teachers, instructors, or tutor/markers may be in different physical locations; and
  • programs that provide flexibility and equitable access to diverse learning opportunities, while at the same time respects local community decisions regarding program implementation.

Manitoba Education has issued other regulatory and policy documents. In 2014, Manitoba Education created a framework that allowed for virtual collegiates to operate in the province. To date, the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre and the Pembina Trails and St. James-Assiniboia School Divisions have signed an Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Province and have been granted school codes for their virtual collegiates.

The Manitoba Student Records system does have a mechanism to indicate whether the credit earned was obtained through some form of distance education, but this method of data collection is dependent on the individual schools categorizing and entering the data correctly. By default, most schools report the credit as earned in a traditional manner, regardless of the method of instruction. As such, the data reported here may be significantly lower than the actual involvement in distance or online learning.

For the most part, distance and learning options are funded in a manner similar to brick-and-mortar education with a few exceptions. There is a fee per seat that is collected for the Teacher Mediated Option (TMO), and the consortium that operates this option has established a fee structure for both members and non-members. Finally, the InformNet Virtual Collegiate has established a fee structure that depends on the student’s residency and status. Students that reside within the governing school divisions are not charged fees, but students from outside of the school division – as well as homeschooling students and adult learners – are charged fees.

K-12 Distance and Online Learning Activity

Each school division in the province has participated in one or more of the above distance education program options. However, participation varies from year to year depending on the changing needs of students and schools. The Independent Study Option (ISO) (i.e., print-based) continued during the 2020-21 school year, but was discontinued as of June 30th, 2021. The TMO, which is managed by rural school divisions through the TMO Consortium in partnership with Manitoba Education and Training. Additionally, the Web-based Course (WBC) Option offerings were delivered using the Brightspace by Desire2Learn (D2L) learning management system as of April 6, 2020, with Blackboard Learn continued to be available for delivery of existing courses until June 30, 2020 (at which point it would be discontinued).

TMO, WBC, InformNet, and the Manitoba Remote Learning Support Centre (K-8) collectively provided distance learning to ~8,173 students.

K-12 Blended Learning Activity

Beginning with the 2019-20 school year, Manitoba Education adopted a formal definition of blended learning. “Blended Learning is a combination of traditional face-to-face classroom learning and online/remote learning” (Manitoba Education, 2020, para 1).

In an effort to further support blended learning throughout the province, Manitoba Education added a “Blended Learning” page to the traditional “Distance Learning” section of the Manitoba Education website. This new resource provides teachers and school leaders with advantages, tips, examples, useful tools, and resources. Manitoba teachers were still able to use the learning management system for free with both distance or blended learning students and its provincially developed grade 9-12 courses as a resource.

Manitoba Education still does not formally track participation in blended learning. The Province did conduct a survey in summer 2017 that found schools were using a variety of implementation methods to support students within a blended classroom environment and from a distance, but there was no accounting or estimate of the actual blended learning activity.

Remote Learning

Spring 2020 Closure

Schools in Manitoba closed on March 20, 2020. The Ministry of Education launched their remote teaching website, My Learning at Home, which offered connections to curriculum activities for each grade with a focus on literacy and numeracy as well as mental and physical health to support students, parents, and guardians. For those students who had limited access to online learning, printed materials were provided and outreach for at-risk students was encouraged. Teachers were asked to provide daily communication with students via telephone, online platforms, email, or regular post. The attendance expectation for students included grades K-4 with five hours of engagement in remote teaching per week, grades 5-8 ten hours per week, and grades 9-12 a minimum of three hours per course per week. Report cards were delivered and reflected at minimum the progress of the student before March 23, 2020, however, students were provided the opportunity to improve their marks. All provincial standardized testing was cancelled (Nagle et al., 2020a).

Fall 2020 Reopening

Cohort grouping for students as a class was implemented with a cap at 75 students maximum for other activities, with physical distancing (i.e., two meters) between groups, staggering lunch and breaks, entry, and exits. Learning from home could be an option where physical distancing was not a challenge and schools could engage in a blended model of learning, both synchronous and asynchronous. Full attendance was required for the in-school or blended learning model. Grade 12 provincial assessments continued for the 2020-21 school year. School divisions and teachers were responsible for identifying student needs regarding technology, and Manitoba Education supported the availability of devices as well as access to alternative options for students with limited access to the internet (Nagle et al., 2020b).

2020-21 School Year

The 2020-21 school year proceeded with in-person learning, but on January 4, 2021, students in grades seven to 12 were required to return to remote learning for two weeks which was optional for students in kindergarten to grade six. The province did not issue a province-wide shutdown of schools, instead, it was on a region by region basis. Depending on the level of risk due to COVID-19, there were three stages offered: level one in school, level two a blended model, and level three fully remote. Blended learning prioritized students with special needs for in-school learning. Fully remote students were still expected to engage in full participation during the day with regular assessments. Parents who wanted their child to remain at home were required to decide by January 30, 2021, which then remained in effect for the rest of the 2020-21 school year. Students in grades one to four within the remote learning model were expected to engage in five to six hours of synchronous learning per week and two and a half hours of asynchronous work each week, grades five to eight seven to eight hours of synchronous learning per week with three hours of asynchronous work per day. A further requirement was for teachers to meet individually with their students for at least 20 minutes per week and each school division and individual schools were responsible for students having access to digital devices (Nagle et al., 2021).

References

Manitoba Education. (2020). Distance learning: Blended learning. https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/dl/blended_learning.html / https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/dl/docs/blend_learn.pdf

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

Distance education started in Manitoba in 1927 with print-based correspondence courses with a mandate to provide educational opportunities, through correspondence or independent study, to school-aged children and adults in rural and remote areas where access to school was difficult or impossible due to proximity or illness.  Prior to 1987, correspondence/independent study courses were delivered by the Correspondence School.  However, beginning in 1987 the Distance Education and Technology Branch was established and the Correspondence Branch was incorporated into this (later renamed the Independent Study Program in 1991).  In 1991, the Independent Study Program (now called the Independent Study Option [ISO]) was decentralized to Winkler, Manitoba in what is now the Distance Learning Unit.  Historically, courses for grades 1-6 were developed by Alberta Education while courses for grades 7-12 were developed by Manitoba’s Program Development Branch.  By 2009, Grade 7 ISO courses were discontinued and students directed to Alberta Education (the same occurred for Grade 8 ISO courses in 2010).  Beginning in 2014, the ISO program began using Blackboard Learn as a learning management system.

The Teacher Mediated Option (TMO) program began in 1984 as a cooperative program by the school divisions.  In 1992, Manitoba Education assumed responsibility for the administration of the TMO program and it was operated from Wawanesa, MB (within the Southwest School Division).  In 2007, the TMO program moved to the Distance Learning Unit in Winkler, MB.  Around 2010 to 2012 discussion began with participating school divisions about the continuation of the TMO program. It was decided a consortium would be established with participating school divisions and TMO teachers would be placed under the host’s collective agreement.  In 2012 – 2013 this consortium was established with an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the consortium members and Manitoba Education.  The Sunrise School Division acts as the host division, and ISO course materials are used as foundation for instruction.  This MOU has been renewed annually, but in 2014 – 2015 Pine Creek School Division began to act as the host division.

The Web-Based Courses (WBC) were first implemented in 1999 with Applied Math 30S being the first course developed as a pilot.  After a successful two year project that involved 15 school divisions, WBC development and implementation continued to flourish and by 2006 41 courses were available for grades 9-12.  In 2008, a Task Force was established to review the distance learning programs and processes.  Finally, beginning in September 2014 the Ministry approved a three year pilot for the operation of a virtual collegiate by an educational organization recognized by Manitoba.  To date, two “virtual collegiates” have received a school code (i.e., Wapaskwa Virtual Collegiate and InformNet Virtual Collegiate). WBC continue to be developed and revised to meet accessibility standards and the needs of 21st century learners.   These courses are made available to Manitoba teachers within the province as a resource, as a deliverable distance learning course, or to use in a blended learning environment.

Vignettes

Individual Program Survey Responses

Program Most recent response  Medium  # of Students  # of Teachers  # of Courses 
Beautiful Plains School Division
webct.merlin.mb.ca
2015-16 Online 36 1 full time 1
Evergreen School Division 2010-11 Online 38 6 part time 6
Flin Flon School Division 2015-16 Correspondence
Online
Blended
36 distance
24 blended
1 full time (counsellor)
1 blended
25 distance
12 blended
Garden Valley School Division 2011-12 Correspondence 5 0 2
InForm Net
www.informnet.mb.ca/
2020-21 Online 2,805 8 full time
18 part time
59
Lakeshore School Division 2010-11 Correspondence
Online
**
Mountain View School Division
www.mvsd.ca
2010-11 Correspondence
Online
Videoconference
115–130*** 5*** 12+***
Southwest Horizon School Division VC
www.shmb.ca/
2012-13 Online
Video Conference
100 12
Turtle Mountain School Division VC Courses 2016-17 Correspondence
Instructional television
40 **** 4

* This includes registration of Evergreen students in other division’s programs and other division’s students enrolled in Evergreen’s program.
** Additional information unavailable
*** This includes both their participation in Ministry-delivered programs and their own video conferencing and French immersion programs.
**** Teachers were already employed, just required a timetable adjustment.

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

Inter-provincial and International

If a student in Manitoba enrolls in a course offered by an online program in another province or territory it is up to the individual school administrators to assign “Out-of-Province” credits for the course(s) that have an equivalent Manitoba provincial course or locally developed course.  The same process is used for students who attended a school out of province and then move to Manitoba.  When the school administrator accepts the transfer a designation of “S” for “Standing” is used to report credits granted in the place of a percentage mark.  As such achievement in out-of-province courses cannot be used to calculate an average, and any transfer of credit is at the school administrator’s discretion.  This process applies to any out-of-province courses, regardless if it is another jurisdiction in Canada or internationally.

Under current regulations Manitoba schools cannot deliver any online courses to students in other jurisdictions for credit.  Schools can offer a course to an out-of-province or out-of-country student, but cannot issue Manitoba standing (i.e., credit) to an out-of-province or out-of-country student.  Students must be registered in a Manitoba school to earn Manitoba credit(s).