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International Reports

Online and Distance Education

Canadian National Survey of Online Learning and Distance Education

Canadian National Survey of Online Learning and Distance Education

The Canadian National Survey of Online Learning and Distance Education in public post-secondary education aims to track the status and development of online and distance learning across Canada.

In the USA, the Babson Survey Research Group (BSRG) and the Federal Department of Education have been surveying institutions and collecting this kind of data for more than 10 years. These annual surveys have recorded rapid growth in online learning and identified policies and directions being taken by U.S. universities and colleges. Institutional planners, state higher education officials and the media have made heavy use of the annual survey reports. However, until now, there has been no such tracking of online and distance learning in Canada.

Consequently, a national survey was launched during the summer of 2017, with an invitation to complete a questionnaire going to all 203 Canadian public post-secondary institutions. Responses were received from 140 of the 203 institutions, representing 78% of the post-secondary student population. This was the result of strong support for the survey from Canadian provincial government agencies, universities and colleges and their associations, and Pearson Canada and D2L in the private sector.

Key report findings include:

  • Canada is a ‘mature’ online learning market: almost all Canadian colleges and universities now offer online courses and many have been doing so for 15 years or more;
  • There is at least one institution in every province that offers online courses or programs;
  • Online enrolments have expanded at a rate of 10%-15% per annum over the last five years;
  • Online learning now constitutes between 12%-16% of all post-secondary teaching for credit;
  • Online learning courses can be found in almost all subject areas;
  • Online learning is providing students with increased access and greater flexibility;
  • Two-thirds of Canadian post-secondary institutions see online learning as very or extremely important for their future plans

Download Canadian National Survey of Online Learning and Distance Education.

There are also a number of associated reports:

Additional information is available at the Tracking Online and Distance Education in Canadian Universities and Colleges in both English and French.