Online learning now a core form of delivery of courses and programs in Canadian colleges and universities

Dr. Tony Bates, Research Associate, Contact North | Contact Nord (CNW Group/World Conference on Online Learning ICDE 2017)

Online learning is now a core form of delivery for Canadian universities and colleges, according to a report released today at the World Conference on Online Learning in Toronto.

This survey of online learning, the first covering all Canadian public post-secondary institutions, was sponsored by, and The survey targeted over 200 public post-secondary institutions across Canada, with responses covering 78% of all university and college student enrolments.

A small group of independent Canadian researchers, under the leadership of Dr. Tony Bates, a visiting professor at Ryerson University and a Research Associate at Contact North, Ontario, conducted the survey over the spring and summer of 2017, focusing initially on online credit courses and programs. The team worked closely with Canadian universities and colleges and other partners, such as the Babson Survey Research Group and WCET in the USA.

Key findings of the report are:

  • almost all Canadian colleges and universities now offer online courses;
  • 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 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.

‘The survey shows that online learning is significantly influencing on-campus teaching as well,’ says Tony Bates. ‘Instructors are now beginning to mix face-to-face and online learning, often resulting in more engaging learning for students. We hope this national data will inform policy decisions by government, institutions, academic departments, and individual instructors, and in  this way also benefit students.’