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A Snapshot State of the Nation Study: K-12 Online Learning in Canada.

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To date, most of what is known about K-12 online learning from the media and literature is focused upon experiences in the United States. However, virtual schooling first began in Canada in 1994-95. Over the past fourteen years, there has been little federal funding for the development and research of K-12 online learning in Canada. This has largely been due to the fact that education is a provincial jurisdiction and there is no federal department with this responsibility in Canada. Therefore, there have been no federal guidelines or standards for these programmes to meet through reporting or external evaluations. With limited government, foundation, and private support for education research, K-12 online learning programmes have not received financial support for research and evaluation. Moreover, there has been little activity in Canadian higher education towards research of K-12 online learning, compounded by the fact that there are fewer than five-dozen Canadian universities, which limits the focus and scope of K-12 education research. As such, K-12 online learning has continued to develop across Canada quietly, and with little dissemination outside of the country and between individual provinces. This report is the first of many steps that researchers and the North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL) are taking to begin to address the lack of information about K-12 online learning in Canada. This report will provide an examination of online learning activity at the K-12 level and how it is governed in each province and territory. Thus the authors provide a brief overview of the national landscape of K-12 online learning, with a more detailed focus on three jurisdictions. A list of selected resources and bibliography are included.
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... The proposed change that CANeLearn had been queried about was whether a centralized model of elearning is more effective than a decentralized model. As outlined by the State of the Nation: K-12 e-Learning in Canada annual reports (Barbour, 2009(Barbour, , 2010(Barbour, , 2011(Barbour, , 2012(Barbour, , 2013Barbour & LaBonte, 2014Barbour & Stewart, 2008), there are a variety of organizational models that are used across Canada. Less populated jurisdictions tend to utilize a centralized model of e-learning (e.g., Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon) -often operated directly by the Ministry of Education or by a body designated by the Ministry of Education to have a provincial/territorial scope. ...
... This data indicates that students could also be successful in a decentralized organizational model. (Barbour, 2010). Data collected by this CANeLearn-partnered project also found that the Ontario eLearning Consortium consistently reported a 90%+ completion rate. ...
... given the nature of the current system. According to the annual State of the Nation: K-12 e-Learning in Canada reports (Barbour, 2009(Barbour, , 2010(Barbour, , 2011(Barbour, , 2012(Barbour, , 2013Barbour & LaBonte, 2014Barbour & Stewart, 2008), across Canada the less populated jurisdictions tend to utilize a centralized model of e-learning, with most of the other jurisdictions have a more decentralized model. While the research is limited, however, there appears to be little difference in student outcomes based on whether the provincial/territorial model of e-learning is centralized or decentralized -as both appear to achieve outcomes comparable to face-to-face contexts. ...
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Barbour, M. K., & LaBonte, R. (2019). Sense of irony or perfect timing: Examining the research supporting proposed e-learning changes in Ontario. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, 34(2). Retrieved from http://www.ijede.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/1137 Abstract: Only weeks before the 2019 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association (AERA) was held in Toronto, Ontario, the provincial government announced a major reform of education for that province entitled Education that Works for You-Modernizing Classrooms. From an e-learning perspective the proposal called for a centralization of e-learning, a graduation requirement of four e-learning courses, and increasing the class size limit for e-learning courses to 35 students. The AERA call for submissions for the 2020 meeting issued a challenge for scholars to 'connect with organizational leaders to examine collaboratively continuing educational problems... [and] programmatically engaging with educational organizations.' This article accepts that challenge and describes a collaboration between scholars and a pan-Canadian organization to examine the research behind each of these proposed e-learning changes. Based on that collaboration, the authors explore the existing system of e-learning in Ontario and highlight the concerning lack of details in many aspects of the proposal, as well as a lack of research to support the proposed actions. Keywords: K-12 online learning, K-12 e-learning, K-12 blended learning, Ontario Résumé : Quelques semaines seulement avant la tenue de l'assemblée annuelle 2019 de l'American Education Research Association (AERA) à Toronto, en Ontario, le gouvernement provincial a annoncé une importante réforme de l'éducation pour cette province intitulée « L'éducation qui marche pour vous-Moderniser les classes ». Du point de vue de l'apprentissage en ligne, la proposition préconisait la centralisation de l'apprentissage en ligne, l'obligation d'obtenir un diplôme pour quatre cours d'apprentissage en ligne et l'augmentation de la taille maximale des classes pour les cours d'apprentissage en ligne à 35 étudiants. L'appel à soumissions de l'AERA pour la rencontre de 2020 a lancé aux chercheurs le défi de " se connecter avec les leaders organisationnels pour examiner de manière collaborative les problèmes éducatifs continus.... et] s'engager de manière programmatique avec les organisations éducatives. Le présent article relève ce défi et décrit une collaboration entre des chercheurs et un organisme pancanadien pour examiner la recherche qui sous-tend chacun des changements proposés concernant l'apprentissage en ligne. En se fondant sur cette collaboration, les auteurs explorent le système actuel d'apprentissage en ligne en Ontario et soulignent le manque de détails concernant de nombreux aspects de la proposition, ainsi que le manque de recherche sous-tendant les mesures proposées. Mots-clés : surveillance en ligne, apprentissage, test d'anxiété, inquiétude, émotivité Available online at http://www.ijede.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/1137
... A study conducted by Mutanga and Walker (2017) on the perspectives of lecturers on students with disabilities at two universities in South Africa revealed that lecturers had little to no knowledge or skills on how to handle students with disabilities and make suitable adaptations for them. In the same vein, Barbour (2010) argues that, one of the biggest challenges faced by teacher/lecturer education programs is the general lack of known models on which to design courses that will support educators in teaching and supporting students with disabilities through online school experiences. Svendby (2020) also states that there is still so much prejudice, uncertainty and little knowledge regarding disability and ways of adaptations amongst lecturers at higher learning institutions. ...
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Although institutions of higher learning had been gradually exposed to blended and online methods of learning, most of them still preferred and utilised traditional, face-to-face learning for various reasons. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that caused lockdowns in countries worldwide, blended or online learning became more important to enable continuity of education. The inevitability of change during the pandemic and the hurried paradigm shift from traditional methods of learning came with different implications to institutions of higher learning. Online learning experiences have been extensively researched, however, they have not been adequately focused on students with disabilities. Students with disabilities are expected to be accommodated in learning environments at institutions of higher education. Using the Social Model of Disability, the study elucidates the experiences of students with disabilities of an institution of higher education in South Africa with online learning. The study is crucial in that it determines the extent to which online learning promotes inclusivity. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed using thematic analysis. The study concluded that online learning has both advantages and disadvantages for students with varying disabilities. Students with mobility and visual disabilities preferred online learning, which allows them to study in the comfort of their residences while students with intellectual disabilities preferred traditional/contact methods of learning. Most participants indicated that their online lecturers are not aware of their disabilities and thus, their methods of instruction and assessment are not as inclusive.
... With this size and scope, international schools work with more students than all of those enrolled in schools within certain national-level school systems (such as the entire Australian school system, for instance; ABS, 2020). Yet, research on online education has largely been conducted within national settings (Barbour, 2014;Barbour and Stewart, 2008) and the few studies that do explore online education in international schools are not recent (see Bunnell, 2008;Volet and Wosnitza, 2004). ...
Article
With the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, school buildings across the globe closed, leading educators, students and families to transition rapidly to online education. It is clear that schools will in the future continue to employ online learning, even as students and educators return to school buildings. While the education community has over a number of years generated a range of practical tips and guidance about online education—especially since the onset of COVID-19—many are not supported by research (DiPietro et al., 2010) and neglect international school settings (Barbour, 2014). This study investigates the experiences of sixty-one K-12 international educators via nineteen focus groups, contributing to the literature base on pedagogical, leadership and practical strategies needed to support effective online learning. Four lessons learned emerged from the data: technological challenges are exacerbated during a crisis; educators adapted to revise pedagogical strategies when under pressure; student and parent experiences were inconsistent and complex; and school leaders play an important role during a transition to online education. Although COVID-19 posed challenges, educators are resilient, adaptable, and deeply committed to student learning. School leaders now have an opportunity to reconstruct a model of education which offers students the best of face-to-face learning augmented by the most effective use of virtual technologies. This is more than planning for potential crises; this is reimagining the future of education.
... One of the most decisive impediments has been the deficiency of research on these synchronous and asynchronous approaches to teaching school ages in DE. Most research on DE in schools has been done in the United States; meanwhile researchers globally have also gradually shifted towards DE in schools (Barbour & Stewart, 2008). With respect to scheduling, environment of learning and individual concentrated asynchronous DE had more adaptability than synchronous DE (Bernard et al, 2004, p. 408). ...
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... order to achieve greater learning outcomes. ICTs, e-learning and innovation are often considered by government and researcher greeters as effective solutions for providing equal opportunities for instruction and success in schools everywhere (Barbour, 2010;Canadian Council of Learning, 2009; Conseil Supérieur de l 'Éducation, 2009). However the need for change and innovation in education has yet to provide enough orientation and time for teachers to change their practices in transforming students' learning environment into deeper understanding or knowledge creation. ...
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The purpose of the study is to explore trainee teachers' creative thinking and innovation during physical education game projects. It was conducted in one of the Teacher Training Institutes in Malaysia for duration of four weeks. Thirty-six trainee teachers in twelve groups participated in this study. Qualitative research method was adopted as the researchers observed the participants' creative thinking and innovation process during games project. Data were collected from observational checklist, reflective journal writing and semi structured focus group interview transcriptions. All the qualitative data were later analyzed with Nvivo data analysis process. The proposed game projects and innovation process enables trainee teachers to develop creative thinking skill. Data revealed themes like decision-making, problem solving, creativity and teamwork. Kangas's (2010) Creative and Playful Learning Process Model were utilized in this study. The finding showed that trainee teachers' creative thinking skill enhanced during the game inventing innovation process. Therefore Teacher Training Institute will have more success using innovative games project to enhance creative thinking skill among physical education trainee teachers.
... One of the unique aspects of this funding review in British Columbia was the fact that the province has historically been a leader in K-12 distance or distributed learning. According to the annual State of the Nation: K-12 e-Learning in Canada reports (Barbour, 2009(Barbour, , 2010(Barbour, , 2011(Barbour, , 2012(Barbour, , 2013Barbour & LaBonte, 2014, 2016, 2017Barbour & Stewart, 2008), British Columbia has consistently had the highest number of students enrolled in distributed learning and the highest proportion of students involved in distributed learning (usually two to four times the national average). While the discussion paper released by the K-12 funding review panel focused primarily on how traditional brick-and-mortar education was funded, there was one reference to distributed learning. ...
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Funding and Resourcing of Distributed Learning Executive Summary In Fall 2017, the Government of British Columbia (2017) began a review of the model that it uses to fund K-12 education. In the press release announcing the members of the review panel, the Government (2018a) described the goal of the review was “to find a better way to provide equitable and predictable funding to boards of education” (¶ 5). As a part of this review, the government panel released a discussion paper that stated, among other things, that there was “an artificial division in the current model between ‘bricks-and-mortar’ and distributed learning, which should not exist” (Government of British Columbia, 2018d, p. 3). The purpose of this brief is to examine the nature of distributed learning funding in British Columbia and how that compares to other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States. This brief begins with an overview of the existing funding model in British Columbia with respect to distributed learning. This is followed by a description of how distributed learning is funded and resourced in other Canadian jurisdictions. The brief concludes with an exploration of the research literature related to funding distributed learning, most of which focuses on contexts in the United States. This brief outlines how distributed learning funding models across Canada generally fall into one of three models. First, the government directly funds and/or resources distributed learning opportunities. Second, individual distributed learning programs charge a fee for students who enroll on a per course basis (often paid for by the school or school district). Third, the government provides direct funding for the distributed learning program through FTEs/CEUs. Interestingly, those Canadian jurisdictions that did fund distributed learning through FTEs/CEUs provided less funding for distributed learning enrollments compared to traditional brick-and-mortar enrollments. The larger body of literature indicates that the American context generally follows the second for supplemental program and the third model for full-time programs. However, it is important to understand the role of private enterprise in public education with respect to distributed learning in the United States, and the impact this has on the funding of full-time distributed learning programs. There is also the issue of whether the government has the obligation to provide the same funding for public education regardless of the modality that education is delivered. As Ministries of Education across Canada review and revise funding models in their jurisdictions, issues of equity and access to effective learning options must be considered. Funding is a critical driver for educational practice. The research community would serve students and schools well to keep funding models for K-12 education in the forefront of their work. Available online at https://k12sotn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/DL-Funding-Report.pdf
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Supporting learning: Ministerial panel on educational delivery in the classroom. St. John's, NL: Queen's Printing for Newfoundland and Labrador
  • R Sparkes
  • L Williams
Sparkes, R., & Williams, L. (2000). Supporting learning: Ministerial panel on educational delivery in the classroom. St. John's, NL: Queen's Printing for Newfoundland and Labrador. Retrieved on September 20, 2008 from http://www.edu.gov.nf.ca/panel/panel.pdf