Number of K-12 Schools: 4850
Number of K-12 Students: 2,020,245
Number of K-12 Distance Learning Programs: 248
Number of K-12 Distance Learning Students: ~139,000
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 afford 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 for a wide range of English- and French-language courses and a variety of multimedia learning objects, along with a variety of other technical and human resource supports (including a “Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching Contact” or “Personne-ressource en apprentissage et enseignement par la technologie” 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 This includes students who are enrolled in elearning courses as part of their regular day school, continuing education, and summer school programs.
In 2021-22, funding for day school students taking e-learning in Ontario’s publicly-funded district school boards was the same as the traditional brick-and-mortar education. In English-language schools, 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 2021-22 school year was $586 per credit course. In French-language schools, students remain with their home school board and take online courses offered by the Consortium d’apprentissage virtuel de langue française de l’Ontario (CAVLFO), a consortium funded and managed by all twelve francophone school boards.
Private schools operate as businesses or non-profit organizations in accordance with the legal requirements established by the Education Act and receive no public funding or other financial support from the Ministry. The Ministry only inspects the standard of instruction at private schools seeking to grant credits toward the Ontario Secondary School Diploma to determine whether they can be granted this authority. In the case of online private schools, Ministry 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. Teachers in the private school are also subject to a classroom inspection by the ministry. Inspectors review online courses, public website, school course calendar, and community involvement along with attendance policies, assignment timelines, student learning logs, examination procedures, etc.. The Ministry does not regulate, license, accredit or otherwise oversee the operation of private schools. Private schools in Ontario can operate onsite, online or offer a combination of online and onsite classes/instruction.
A November 21, 2019 announcement established that Ontario students would be required to take two online credits to graduate from secondary school beginning with students graduating in 2023-24, and that courses began counting toward this requirement beginning in September 2020 (Ministry of Education, 2019). With this announcement, Ontario became the only jurisdiction in Canada with an online learning graduation requirement. However, as a part of Policy/Program Memorandum 167, the Ministry of Education (2022) stated that:
The Ministry recognizes the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID‑19 pandemic. As a result, this Policy/Program Memorandum recognizes up to one secondary school credit completed by Grade 9 students in the 2020-21 school year during the province-wide school closures (from April 2021 to June 2021) may be counted towards the graduation requirement. Schools should select one of these credits and record it in the system they use locally for tracking the requirement and reflect the completion of the selected credit when reporting through the Ontario School Information System (OnSIS) towards the student’s online learning graduation requirement. The course itself does not need to be flagged as an “online course”. It will be counted under the “Diploma Requirements” “Online Learning Graduation Requirement” section of the provincial report card template. (para. 15)
K-12 Distance and Online Learning Activity
Each of the publicly-funded 60 English-speaking and 12 French-speaking school boards have the ability to offer some form of online learning using the provincial 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 (e.g., Ontario eLearning Consortium, Ontario Catholic eLearning Consortium, etc.). During the 2019-20 school year (most recent school year for which data are available), approximately 97,000 students participated in online learning programs offered by publicly-funded district school boards.
Additionally, the Independent Learning Centre (ILC), which operates within TVO, serves Ontario youth 14+ and adults seeking to earn high school credits or an Ontario Secondary School Diploma. The reporting year for the TVO ILC runs from April 1 of one year to March 31 of the following year, the same as the government of Ontario’s fiscal year. Again, based on the most recent data available, there were more than 22,000 students enrolled in distance courses offered by the ILC during the 2020-21 school year.
Finally, in 2019-20 (most recent year for which data are available) 175 private schools offered online learning. Of these schools, 34 were fully online. The most recent data available, which is also from 2019-20, indicated that approximately 18,000 e-learning credits were earned in private online schools.
K-12 Blended Learning Activity
The Ministry of Education describes blended learning as instruction and student learning that incorporates digital resources within 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, many of which incorporate aspects of blended learning.
The Ministry does not track the wide variety of digital tools that may be used to support blended learning that take place in Ontario schools. The Ministry does provide licenses for a provincial learning management system, and digital tools for school boards to use for blended and e-learning opportunities with their students. As such, all educators in Ontario have the opportunity to use digital tools to provide a blended learning experience that meets their student needs. In the 2021-22 school year there were approximately 1,306,497 unique student logins in the learning management system.
Fall 2021 Reopening
All of Ontario’s public schools from K-12 returned to full in-person learning in the Fall of 2021 with masks mandatory and social distancing as much as possible, including staggered schedules to limit student numbers in hallways and cafeterias. Secondary students still worked in quadmesters, taking two courses at a time, and several school boards opted for hybrid learning for secondary schools. Caregivers had the option to keep their child in remote learning via each board’s virtual school, which was mandated by the province as an option within all public school boards. In case of active COVID-19 within schools, boards were required to provide students the opportunity for remote learning with 300 minutes of learning using both synchronous and asynchronous activities and have plans in place so they could move to remote learning quickly to ensure continuity of learning for students Extra-curricular activities and sports were encouraged by the Ministry to continue and all student assessments and standardised testing resumed as normal (LaBonte et al., 2021).
2021-22 School Year
As the new school year progressed amidst school closures for COVID local outbreaks, the number of children choosing to learn remotely increased. Local school closures resulted from staff shortages and student absenteeism due to the spread of the virus in many communities across the province. As a result, the Government of Ontario signed an agreement with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation to temporarily increase the number of days a retired teacher could work to expand the pool of supply teachers available to address rising teacher absenteeism due to illness and self-isolation. Provincially, schools remained open to in-person learning but masking was required. Just prior to the return to school from December holidays, due to increasing community spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 school opening was delayed for two days. Later it was decided to close schools to in-person learning with students returning to remote learning until January 17, 2022. That return saw some limited student cohort grouping, reduction of ‘high contact’ sports, and the requirement for students to self-isolate if they had symptoms. Interestingly, schools in the Greater Toronto area did not open until the next day due to heavy snow. February saw the gradual release of community restrictions across Canada and the Ontario government release included relaxing school masking and increasing indoor event capacities. Further plans announced February 17 were to address learning loss during prior school closures that included tutoring support. On April 14 the government passed legislation designed to improve capacity to keep buildings open, particularly schools, and the mask requirement for school students and staff was removed, followed by a removal of all restrictions on June 11 (LaBonte et al., 2022).
LaBonte, R., Barbour, M. K., & Mongrain, J. (2022). Teaching during times of turmoil: Ensuring Continuity of learning during school closures. Canadian eLearning Network. https://canelearn.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Teaching-During-Times-of-Turmoil.pdf
LaBonte, R., Barbour, M. K., & Nagle, J. (2021). Pandemic pedagogy in Canada: Lessons from the first 18 months. Canadian eLearning Network. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gaNFXDCt44W9DaAC9iRAf33pDTKup2C8/view
Ministry of Education. (2019). Ontario brings learning into the digital age: Province announces plan to enhance online learning, become global leader. Queen’s Printer for Ontario. https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/54695/ontario-brings-learning-into-the-digital-age
Ministry of Education. (2022). Policy/program memorandum 167. https://www.ontario.ca/document/education-ontario-policy-and-program-direction/policyprogram-memorandum-167
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. For example, the Consortium d’apprentissage virtuel de langue française de l’Ontario was founded collaboratively by all 12 French-language school boards in February 2010. Unfortunately, there is little published information in English about this activity.
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.
- TVO ILC – The Evolution of a Distance-to-Digital Learning Model in Ontario (2019)
- Wahsa Distance Education Centre (2019)
- On Site Mentors at KiHS (2017)
- eLearning At The Upper Canada District School Board, Supported By The Ontario eLearning Consortium (2016)
- Online Learning and the Toronto District School Board Local Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (2013)
- Gai Hon Nya Ni: Amos Key Jr. E-Learning Institute (2013)
- Keewaytinok Internet High School (2013)
- The Conference of Independent Schools eLearning Consortium (CISELC) (2012)
- Ottawa Carleton e-School (2010)
- Keewaytinok Internet High School (2009)
Brief Issue Papers
- Ontario Policy/Program Memorandum 167 – Mandatory eLearning (2022)
- Making Ontario Canada’s Leader In Online Learning In Secondary Schools (2019)
- Virtual High School K–5 Course Project (2017)
- An Online Private School’s Relationship with the Ontario Ministry of Education (2016)
- Putting Theory into Practice: Flexible Learning and Course Development at VirtualHighSchool.com (2013)
- Teaching and Learning through e-Learning: A New Additional Qualification Course for the Teaching Profession (2012)
- Waves Across the Oceans (2012)
- Teacher Education and Preparation for Leading Online Learning (2011)
- Keewaytinook Internet High School: Moving First Nation Students ahead with Technology in Ontario’s Remote North (2010)
Individual Program Survey Responses
|Program||Most recent response||Medium||# of Students||# of Teachers||# of Courses|
|Algoma District School Board
|14 full time||125|
|Avon Maitland District eLearning Centre
|2015-16||Online||1,567||7 full time
14 part time
|Bluewater District School Board
|2010-11||Online||120||9 part time||8|
|Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board
|2021-22||Online||346||11 full time||43|
|Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board
|2010-11||Online||10||1 part time||7|
|6 full time
|Consortium d’apprentissage virtuel de langue française de l’Ontario
|2018-19||Online||2,283||24 full time||156|
|Durham Catholic District School Board eLearning
|2012-13||Online||350||21 full time
1 part time
|eLearning Consortium Canada
|Grand Erie District School Board Virtual Academy
|Halton District School Board
|2010-11||Online||275||11 full time||10|
|Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
|56 part time
|Independent Learning Centre
|18,932||80 part time||144|
|James Bay Lowlands Secondary School Board||2010-11||Online||1||1 part time||1|
|Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board e-Learning
|2016-17||Online||1183||1 full time
20 part time
|Keewaytinook Internet High School (Ontario)
|2021-22||Online||600||27 full time||86|
|Lambton Kent District School Board
|2022-23||Online||1127||35 full time||41|
|Limestone Minds Online
|2021-22||Online||480 (school year)
|21 (school year)
|10 (school year)
|Nimbus Christian Education||2020-21||Online||35||12 part time||60|
|Northwest Catholic District School Board||2010-11||Online||85*||3 full time||3|
|Ontario Catholic eLearning Consortium
|2020-21||Online||~1,500||43 full time
95 part time
|Ontario eLearning Consortium
|Ontario Virtual School
|2021-22||Online||12,000||186 full time
170 part time
|Open School Ontario
|2018-19||Online||75||1 full time
1 part time
|Ottawa-Carleton District School Board eLearning
|2019-20||Online||1,900||45 part time||59|
|Ottawa Catholic District School Board eLearning
|2022-23||Online||1271||1 full time
32 part time
|Quinte Adult Education (HPEDSB)
|2,034||1 full time
21 part time
|Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board
|2010-11||Online||104||3 full time||9|
|Rainbow District School Board
|2010-11||Online||213||10 part time||14|
|Rainy River District School Board
rrdsb.elearningontario.ca / moodle.rrdsb.com
|2010-11||Online||106||6 part time||7|
|Simcoe County District School Board eLearning
|2018-19||Online||823||2 full time
3 part time
|St. Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Virtual School
|2022-23||Online||300||18 full time||80|
|Thames Valley District Virtual Academy
|2018-19||Online||1,636||47 full time||36|
|Toronto Catholic District School Board eLearning
|Upper Canada District School Board eLearning
|2020-21||Online||1,200||2 full time
17 part time
|Upper Grand District School Board eLearning||2021-22||Online||670||26 full time||26|
|Virtual Elementary School – Ontario
|2015-16||Online||35||2 part time||9|
|Virtual High School – Ontario
|2020-21||Online||11,200||165 full time||111|
|Virtual Learning Centre
|2018-19||Online||800||22 full time
14 part time
|Waterloo Catholic District School Board e-Learning
|36 full time (elementary)
1 part time (elementary)
44 part time (secondary)
|Waterloo Region District School Board e-Learning
|90 full time
75 part time
|2021-22||Online||767||22 part time||19|
* 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.