Kitchener-Waterloo

E-learning to increase significantly as result of provincial changes, school board says

More students in Waterloo region will log on to the computer instead of going to class in the next few years. Under the provincial government's new education plan, high school students will be required to take at least four e-learning credits to graduate, starting in the 2020-2021 school year.

More online courses could be positive change for students, WCDSB superintendent says

Under the provincial government's new education plan, high school students will be required to take at least four e-learning credits to graduate starting in 2020. (Jordan Silverman/Norwich University/AP)

More students in Waterloo region will log on to the computer instead of going to class in the next few years.

Under the provincial government's new education plan, high school students will be required to take at least four e-learning credits to graduate, starting in the 2020-2021 school year.

The government is also planning to centralize the delivery of online courses across the province.

Richard Olson, a superintendent with the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB), says the changes will mean a "significant" increase in e-learning, compared to what is currently being offered.

"In terms of anticipating that growth, building the capacity in our systems and with our educators, there would have to be some work done to address those concerns," Olson said.

Online courses not for everyone

Right now there are about 400 students enrolled in online courses for the winter term. The board offers 30 different e-learning courses and sections throughout the year, taught internally by WCDSB teachers. Students can also access courses in other school districts.

Olson says there's a variety of reasons why students may choose e-learning over the classroom. Online courses give students more flexibility with their timetables and allows them to access classes that aren't available in their own schools.

But students also need to have certain skills to succeed.

"Some students are probably more successful than others because e-learning does demand the ability to have excellent time management, work ethic, establishing a schedule and meeting that schedule, being able to be an independent learner," Olson said.

The provincial government says there will be exemptions for "some students on an individual basis."

E-learning 'on the rise'

Olson said more e-learning could be a positive change in the long run — and it already has its advantages.

This past winter, when the schools were closed for several days due to poor weather, Olson said a surprising number of students logged on to their classes from home.

"We've seen e-learning on the rise and in a world that's increasingly digital and online, that does have its benefits," he said.

"I would say over the last few years we've also seen a very intentional attempt to make those courses more engaging for a larger variety of learning styles."

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