Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, wants to turn Ontario into a global leader of modern and digital education.
"While online courses will be a mandatory graduation requirement, exemptions will be made for some students on an individual basis," says Lecce. "Before the launch of the new online learning program, the province will be consulting with Ontarians to ensure our approach to online learning will meet the needs of students and educators."
Ontario students will be required to take two online credits to graduate from secondary school. Students that graduate in the 2023-2024 school year will be the first cohort that are required to complete online courses. Online courses can begin counting toward students' graduation requirements beginning in September 2020.
"The world is changing rapidly, and our students need the ability to learn and thrive in a world increasingly disrupted by technology," said Lecce. "To succeed in this environment, it is important students graduate with the skills and technological fluency they need in a competitive global labour market. This plan will provide more course offerings - including STEM courses - that will benefit students well beyond the classroom."
According to a news release, Ontario teacher-supported online learning will enable students to:
- access a wider variety of courses no matter where they live or go to school, allowing them to shape education based on their individual needs and goals
- learn in engaging new ways, such as through hands-on, interactive features, simulations and collaboration with their peers across the province, and
- explore topics that interest them through modular course designs, or standalone mini-modules in topics like financial literacy and coding.
Ontario students have been using online learning to earn high school credits towards their diploma since 2004.
In the 2017-18 school year, about 60,000 students took an online learning course.
The government says all Ontario students and educators in all publicly funded secondary schools will have access to "reliable, fast, secure and affordable internet services" at school, in all regions of the province by September 2020. Many courses will be designed to not require connectivity to complete the course material.
Some examples of online courses that will be available by September 2020 include:
- Grade 11 Biology where students have the chance to visit an endangered ecosystem through virtual reality.
- Grade 12 Data Management which brings math to life using games and probability.
- Grade 10 Career Studies which helps students plan their first year after high school with fun and meaningful activities and interactive modules.
- There are currently 236 online courses (127 in English and 109 in French) that are offered through consortia serving English public, English Catholic and French language school boards.