Number of K-12 Schools: 3,102
Number of K-12 Students: 1,003,322
Number of K-12 E-Learning Programs: 5+
Number of K-12 E-Learning Students: ~50,000+
Note that these profiles are taken from the most recent edition of the report, please review additional annual profiles below.
Governance and Regulation
Historically, school boards have held the primary responsibility for distance education policies and regulations. In fact, the Loi sur l’instruction publique prevents any formal full-time online learning (and relegates supplemental online learning programs to being a provider that must co-operate with the brick-and-mortar schools). A 2017 amendment to the Loi sur l’instruction publique (i.e., Bill 144) allowed the Minister to authorize pilot projects that would permit students, both those who were registered with a school board and those who were homeschooled, to enrol in online courses offered by a recognized school board. However, homeschooled students are still required to write their final year-end exams at a school board location. These pilot projects could last up to five years under the amendment, and the Minister is asked to make and publish an evaluation of the pilot project every two years and an evaluation at the end of the pilot project.
Some of these changes are driven by the Digital Action Plan for Education and Higher Education, which was launched in 2018. The goal of the plan is “effective integration and optimal use of digital technologies to foster the success of all Quebecers in order to promote lifelong skills development and maintenance” (Ministry of Education and Higher Education, 2018, p. 9). The plan has three stated orientations:
- support the development of the digital skills of young people and adults;
- make use of digital technologies to enhance teaching and learning practices; and
- create an environment conducive to the development of digital technologies in the education system. (p. 1)
Embedded within the second orientation is the specific objective to “foster the development of distance education offerings based on needs at the various levels of education” (p. 46). It was this objective that spurned the passage of Bill 144, and brought an increased focus on the RÉseau axé sur le développement des Compétences des élèves par l’Intégration des Technologies de l’information et de la communication (RÉCIT) services and products.
Private schools are regulated by a different act (i.e., Loi sur l’enseignement privé) that does contain provisions pertaining to online education. Essentially a private school can request a “derogation” allowing students to be “virtually attending,” which would in theory allow for the formal creation of a virtual school. To date, the Ministry has yet to receive a request for an online initiative that meets the conditions stated in the Loi sur l’enseignement privé for them to approve.
The government provides school boards funding for distance education students based upon enrolment at a rate of 80% of the amount provided for a student enrolled in a brick-and-mortar setting. The Ministère de l’éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur does provide a block grant to the Société de formation à distance des commissions scolaires du Québec (SOFAD) to support their course development activities. Additionally, SOFAD also charged a fee for school boards to use their materials, money that was reinvested in the development of other learning materials. Similarly, the Leading English Education and Resource Network (LEARN) program is largely funded through the Canada-Quebec Entente on minority language education and second-language instruction, which is a funding program managed by the Ministère de l’éducation et de l’enseignement supérieur.
K-12 Distance and Online Learning Activity
During the 2018-19 school year, there was one pilot project under the Bill 144 provisions currently underway in a Francophone school board.
Additionally, there were three known distance learning programs in Quebec. The largest distance education program was SOFAD, which primarily develops and produces correspondence distance learning materials that school boards utilize in their own district-based programs. SOFAD served approximately 30,000 adult students who are 16 years or older. LEARN provided a variety of distance learning opportunities to all nine English-speaking school boards in the province, including approximately 230 students who received direct course credits, 124 through day-time online classes and 104 through a summer school program. Additionally, approximately 1,200 students were provided online tutoring support services and the demand continues to grow. Finally, the Quebec Online School reported an enrollment of 23 students.
K-12 Blended Learning Activity
At present, there are two known programs that provide blended learning in Quebec. In addition to their distance offerings, LEARN provides its services and resources – such as tutoring, tailored pedagogical content, training, community learning centres’ support, academic peer review articles, curated resources, and enrichment activities – to stakeholders across the province in a blended format. As of the 2018-19 school year, LEARN no longer tracked the number of students accessing their resources so it is difficult to report an accurate figure for blended learning. However, during the 2017-18 school year an estimated 10,000 or more students accessed the blended learning content outside of LEARN’s content management system, and this number has continued to grow. There has been no recent data submitted on the Écoles en réseau (i.e., Networked Schools), although the program appears to remain active.
Ministry of Education and Higher Education. (2018). Digital action plan for education and higher education. Quebec City, QC: Government of Québec. Retrieved from http://www.education.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/site_web/documents/ministere/PAN_Plan_action_VA.pdf
Previous Provincial Profiles
- 2016 [En français]
- 2017 [En français]
- 2018 [En français]
- 2019 [En français]
History of K-12 E-Learning
The history of distance learning in Quebec began in 1946 with the creation of the Office des cours par correspondance, which was attached to the Ministry of Social Services and Youth (at the time there was then no Ministry of Education) and served vocational and professional education. In 1972, the service was extended to general education, then to Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP) courses in 1983, and to the English-speaking community in 1992.
Adult education was provided through television in the 1960s, mainly by the University of Montreal and through community television (TEVEC) in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area. In 1996, distance education at the secondary level was transferred from the Ministry of Education to the Société de formation à distance des commissions scolaires du Québec (SOFAD), a non-profit organization administered by representatives of various school boards.
Most K-12 distance education in Quebec is still limited to students 16 years and older enrolled in adult education and vocational schools. Courses are mostly offered in print form. It is only recently that a few school boards have started offering online distance education. The one notable exception is The Leading English Education and Resource Network (LEARN), created in 2004 by amalgamating the Distance Education and Community Network (inaugurated in 1999) the English and Resources Network, and the Quebec English Schools Network. These initiatives relied on the Chambers Report (Provincial Government Task Force on English Language Education in Quebec, 1992) which recommended that English school boards use digital networks to improve educational services to the English community. LEARN has since been very proactive in developing K-12 distance learning services in Quebec.
Please see Soixante ans de formation à distance au Québec for more details (Comité de liaison interordres en formation à distance, 2007).
Comité de liaison interordres en formation à distance. (2007). Soixante ans de formation à distance au Québec. Montreal, QC: Author. Retrieved from http://clifad.qc.ca/upload/files/60-ans-fad.pdf
- Société de formation à distance des commissions scolaires du Québec (2019)
- LEARN’s #LQchat (2019)
- Faith Christian Academy (2013)
- LEARN (2012)
- Remote Networked Schools (2011)
- Learn Quebec (2010)
- Société de formation à distance des commissions scolaires du Québec (2009)
Brief Issue Papers
- Improving Professional Development for Teachers – A Grassroots Solution (2016)
- Online Professional Development in the Remote Networked Schools (Quebec) (2010)
Individual Program Survey Responses
|Program||Most recent response||Medium||# of Students||# of Teachers||# of Courses|
|Centre d’apprentissage en ligne de la CSBE||2016-17||Online||1,584||53 part time||36|
|L’École en réseau/Networked Schools
|2016-17||Online/Blended*||5,000+||300 full time|
|6 full time
72 part time
|Quebec Online School||2019-20||Online||25||1 full time||8|
|Société de formation à distance des commissions scolaires du Québec
* L’École en réseau uses a model where classroom teachers and students are connected through video conferencing and a knowledge management system.
** Enrollment is done through the school boards.
*** Teachers (i.e., markers/graders) are hired by the individual participating school boards and there is no program-wide data available.
To update this information, visit http://tinyurl.com/sotn-program-survey
Inter-provincial and International
If a student living in Quebec completes a distance education course from a program located in another province or territory, provided the student has an official document (e.g., transcript) issued from the jurisdiction in question attesting to the student’s successful course completion, credit can be provided using the same process for students transferring from another jurisdiction. The student can present a request to the Centre d’éducation des adultes du Québec to have his or her academic record evaluated. If the course is considered equivalent, credit is granted. If the distance education course is from a program in another country, the responsibility is to the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion, which analyzes those achievements on a whole diploma, but not a single course basis.
In instances where a student living in another province or territory, or another country, can not pass exams in Quebec (unless they are resident in Quebec). Successful completion of exams for Quebec residents provide course credits.