Number of K-12 Schools: 3,146
Number of K-12 Students: 1,137,766
Number of K-12 Distance Learning Programs: 6+
Number of K-12 Distance 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 prevented any formal full-time online learning (and relegated supplemental online learning programs to providers that must co-operate with the brick-and-mortar schools). However, a 2017 amendment to the Loi sur l’instruction publique (i.e., Bill 144) allowed the Minister to authorize distance learning pilot projects (see Government of Quebec [2023a] for more information). As part of measure 19 of the Digital Action Plan for Education and Higher Education (Ministry of Education and Higher Education, 2018), and as provided for in section 459.3 of the Loi sur l’instruction publique (Government of Quebec, 2017), the innovation component of the distance learning pilot project was implemented at the start of the 2021 school year and continues until June 2024. The objectives of the pilot project are to experiment or innovate in distance learning and to document the process in order to enrich practices. The delivery model for these distance learning pilot projects was described as:
Comodal – This mode involves one or more students face-to-face and at a distance. The remote student follows the course simultaneously with the students of the class with the consent of all persons concerned, if applicable.
Comodal asynchronous alternation – This mode offers the possibility of following online courses offline (asynchronous) and sometimes take lessons simultaneously with their class (comodal) with the consent of all persons concerned, if applicable. (Government of Quebec, 2022, p. 3)
Further, on May 4, 2023 Projet de loi n° 23, Loi modifiant principalement la Loi sur l’instruction publique et édictant la Loi sur l’Institut national d’excellence en éducation was tabled (Government of Quebec, 2023b). If passed, it would amend Loi sur l’instruction publique by making distance education services possible, by regulation, in two contexts: (1) exceptional or unforeseeable situations and (2) special home or hospital teaching services.
Private schools are regulated by the Loi sur l’enseignement privé, of which sections 3 to 6 sets standards for distance education respecting private educational institutions at the preschool, elementary and secondary levels. One of these regulations allow private schools to request a permit allowing students to be “virtually attending,” although the same services must be provided to these students as those provided to students attending school.
K-12 Distance and Online Learning Activity
The ministère de l’Éducation indicated there was only a single pilot project approved under the innovation component that focused on distance education approved during the 2022-23 school year, and data from the annual reports for 2022 would provide a more accurate picture of the number of students involved were still being analyzed. In the previous annual report it stated that during the 2021-22 school year there were 56 distance learning pilot projects, spread over 39 educational establishments and organizations. Further, documents released in July 2021 from a request to the Access to Information and Complaints Directorate suggested that at the time there were at least 1,650 students involved in some of these pilot projects.
Beyond these pilot projects, 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. At present, SOFAD supports learning for students over16 years old in two programs: formation générale à distance or distance adult education, and formation professionnelle à distance or distance professional training. Some formation générale à distance students are just completing a few courses in order to obtain their high school diploma and enter college. However, most have had learning problems leading to significant delay in learning, requiring these students to study several years longer in order to get their diploma. Alternatively, students do not have to have a high school diploma to enroll in the formation professionnelle à distance, which are programs that can take up to 1.5 years and lead to one of a Professional Training Diploma, Professional Training Certificate, or eventually Professional Specialization Certificate. As SOFAD does not deliver distance learning themselves, but creates the course materials for their 72 partnering school boards to use in the delivery of their adult distance learning programs, it is difficult to determine the number of students associated in this distance learning initiative. Recent reports indicate that during the 2020-21 school year their partner school districts had 34,148 pupils representing 73,360 enrollments in their formation générale à distance programming and 3,926 pupils representing 11,993 enrollments in their formation professionnelle à distance programming.
Additionally, during the 2022-23 school year LEARN provided a variety of distance learning opportunities to all nine English-speaking school boards in the province, including approximately 190 students in their virtual high school and another 305 students in the Quebec Online Alliance. The Quebec Online School reported an enrollment of 90 students during the 2022-23 school year. Finally, it is not known whether the Beauce-Etchemin School Board continued to operate the Centre d’apprentissage en ligne de la CSBE.
K-12 Blended Learning Activity
In response to questions specifically about blended learning, the ministère de l’Éducation indicated that during the 2022-23 school year there were 82 pilot projects authorized in 60 different school organizations. As above, the number of students who participated is still being analyzed as a part of the 2022 annual reports.
Additionally, there are two other 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. During the 2022-23 school year an estimated 50,000 or more students accessed LEARN’s tutorial content. Finally, is it believed that the Écoles en réseau (i.e., Networked Schools) remains active, although there has been no contact with the research team in several years.
Government of Quebec. (2017). An Act to amend the Education Act and other legislative provisions concerning mainly free educational services and compulsory school attendance. https://www.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/Fichiers_client/lois_et_reglements/LoisAnnuelles/en/2017/2017C23A.PDF
Government of Quebec. (2022). Projet pilote en formation à distance – volet innovation. https://www.education.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/site_web/documents/education/PAN_Guide_explicatif_projet_pilote_FAD.pdf
Government of Quebec. (2023a). Projets pilotes en formation à distance. https://www.education.gouv.qc.ca/etablissements-scolaires-publics-et-prives/aide-et-soutien/projets-pilotes-en-formation-a-distance/
Government of Quebec. (2023b). Projet de loi n° 23, Loi modifiant principalement la Loi sur l’instruction publique et édictant la Loi sur l’Institut national d’excellence en education. https://www.assnat.qc.ca/fr/travaux-parlementaires/projets-loi/projet-loi-23-43-1.html
Ministry of Education and Higher Education. (2018). Digital action plan for education and higher education. Government of Québec. http://www.education.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/site_web/documents/ministere/PAN_Plan_action_VA.pdf
Previous Provincial Profiles
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. https://sofad.qc.ca/media/60_ans_fd.pdf
- Online Tutorials and Responding to the Special Needs of Students (2022)
- 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
- Distance Learning and the Quebec Karounis Decision (2022)
- Improving Professional Development for Teachers – A Grassroots Solution (2016)
- Online Professional Development in the Remote Networked Schools (Quebec) (2010)
Individual Program Survey Responses
|Most recent response
|# of Students
|# of Teachers
|# of Courses
|Centre d’apprentissage en ligne de la CSBE
|53 part time
|L’École en réseau/Networked Schools
|300 full time
|33 full time
200 part time
|Quebec Online School
|3 full time
|Société de formation à distance des commissions scolaires du Québec
35 editors & IT specialists
~100 external resources
* 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.