Population: 13,537,994
Number of K-12 Schools: 4,893
Number of K-12 Students: 2,003,253Number of K-12 Distance Education Programs: ~81
Number of K-12 Distance Education Students: ~559,000

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

Governance and Regulation

There is no reference to distance education and/or online learning in the Education Act R.S.O, 1990. However, the Education Act, 1990 does make a reference to “equivalent learning,” which is defined as a learning situation that falls outside the instruction traditionally provided by a board, that is approved under paragraph 3.0.1 of subsection 8(1) and for which a pupil’s success can be reasonably evaluated.

Since 2006, the Ontario e-Learning Strategy has guided the Ministry of Education to provide school boards with various supports necessary to provide students with online and blended learning opportunities. The Francophone version of the strategy, Apprentissage électronique Ontario, was released in 2007. Under this policy, the Ministry provides school boards 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 (including a “Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching Contact” in each school board). School boards delivering either online or blended learning must sign a “Master User Agreement” to access all of these services.

Ontario publicly-funded schools must report student enrollments in elearning classes to the Ontario Student Information System. Students who are enrolled in elearning courses as part of their regular day school, continuing education and summer school programs are to be recorded.

Funding for e-learning day school programs in Ontario’s publicly-funded district school boards is the same as the traditional brick-and-mortar education. As part of the provincial strategy, students may enroll in an online course offered by another school board provided they do so through their home school. In such a situation, the applicability of provincially established fees for students taking e-learning courses are worked out locally between the two school boards. The fee for the 2016-17 school year was $769 per credit course.

Private schools operate as businesses or non-profit organizations independently of the Ministry of Education, and in accordance with the legal requirements established by the Education Act. These private schools do not receive any funding or other financial support from the government. While all private schools in Ontario must meet the same general requirements, private schools seeking the authority to grant credits toward the Ontario Secondary School Diploma must be inspected by the Ministry of Education. 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.   For any credit course delivered online by a private school, all of the curriculum expectations including hours of instruction, assessment, evaluation and reporting must be in accordance with the policies outlined in Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario Schools-First Edition, Covering Grades 1 to 12 (2010) and the relevant curriculum documents.

K-12 Distance and Online Learning Activity

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. During the 2015-16 school year (i.e., most current data available), approximately 61,000 students were involved in online learning programs offered by publicly-funded district school boards. The French-speaking school boards have developed a provincial consortium, consortium apprentissage virtuel de langue française de l’Ontario, (CAVLFO) offering online learning. This is the equivalent of a high school in a virtual environment comprised of principal, counselors, special education and all other components found in regular high school. There are usually about 3 000 students per school year taking courses in the CAVLFO.

Additionally, the Independent Learning Centre (ILC), which operates within TVO, delivers secondary school courses to both adolescent and adult learners. ILC count towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. Approximately 20,000 students are enrolled in the ILC.

Finally, there are as many as eight different private or independent K-12 distance or online learning programs, some of which have also formed their own consortium. The most recent data available indicated there were approximately 10,000 students enrolled in private online schools.

K-12 Blended Learning Activity

The Ministry of Education defines blended learning as instruction and student learning that incorporates digital resources in the face-to-face classroom. In addition to the various resources provided by the Ministry that were described earlier (e.g., learning management system, digital content and resources, Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching Contact, etc.), the Ministry has also provided funding to school boards through the Technology and Learning Fund from 2014 to 2017 to implement innovative practices to transform learning and teaching. To build upon the work of the Technology and Learning Fund, in 2017-18 the government launched a new Innovation in Learning Fund, an ongoing investment to support educator professional learning to accelerate innovation in learning and the integration of global competencies.

The Ministry does not track all of the instances of blended learning that take place in Ontario schools. Blended learning takes place in all school boards in some form using a variety of digital tools. In the 2015-16 school year there were approximately 529,000 unique logins in the learning management system, approximately 61,000 of these were student engaged in eLearning.

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
Canada’s eSchool
https://canadaeschool.ca/
2017-18 Correspondence
Online
Blended
170 distance
1500 blended
6 full time
16 part-time
14 blended
45 distance
90 blended
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 at OCSB
https://ocdsb.elearningontario.ca/d2l/home
2017-18 Online 521 (day school)
483 (summer school)
24 part time (day school)
11 part time (summer school)
23 (day school)
6 (summer school)
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 Correspondence
Online
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 1183 1 full time
20 part time
40
Keewaytinook Internet High School (Ontario)
http://www.kihs.knet.ca
2016-17 Online
Blended
230 14 full time 70
Limestone Minds Online
https://ldsb.elearningontario.ca
2017-18 Correspondence
Online
~400 10 part time 15
Nimbus Christian Education 2017-18 Online 1 1 part time 1
Northwest Catholic District School Board 2010-11 Online 85* 3 full time 3
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
2017-18 Online 236 3 full time 9
Upper Canada District School Board eLearning
http://ucdsb.elearningontario.ca
2017-18 Online 1200 24 full time
4 part time
56
Virtual Elementary School – Ontario
https://www.virtualelementaryschool.com/
2015-16 Online 35 2 part time 9
Virtual High School – Ontario
http://www.virtualhighschool.com
2017-18 Online 81,52 credits 99 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.

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.