Virtual School Meanderings

June 16, 2019

2019 Semester Two Enrolments Now Open

One for my Kiwi readers.

Please note that I am a member of the Governance Group for this e-learning cluster.

June 14, 2019

State of the Nation: K-12 e-Learning in Canada – Special Report: E-Learning Class Size

This was posted earlier this week on the State of the Nation: K-12 e-Learning in Canada website.

In March 2019, the Government of Ontario unveiled its vision for education through a policy entitled Education that Works for You – Modernizing Classrooms. From an e-learning perspective, the proposed policy called for a centralization of e-learning courses and a graduation requirement that students take a minimum of four e-learning courses beginning with the 2020-21 school year. Either as a part of, in conjunction with, or simply at the same time, the Government also engaged in a public consultation around class sizes that would increase the class size limit for face-to-face courses to 28 students and increase the limit for e-learning courses to 35 students. The goal of this report is to examine the literature related to e-learning class size in Canada and internationally.

However, before any examination of the literature related to class size, it is important to understand the different roles that educators play – and the different types of educators involved – in the e-learning environment. While in the traditional classroom environment a single teacher may select or design the materials used, deliver the actual instruction in a variety of ways, and support the student as they engage the lesson; in the e-learning environment the research clearly indicates that these roles are performed by multiple educators in different settings. Based on the model of e-learning utilized in Ontario, the two most defined roles are those of the e-learning teacher and the local school based facilitator or mentor. The e-learning teacher being responsible for determining the best pedagogical strategies, methods of assessment, and way to meaningful communicate with their students; while the local facilitator or mentor is responsible for supervisory and administrative duties, technical troubleshooting, and – in some cases – content-based assistance.

The available literature related to e-learning class size demonstrates there has been a historical expectation in Ontario that the class size limit for e-learning courses was the same as the class size limit for face-to-face courses. The literature further demonstrates that across several provinces the class size limit for e-learning courses has ranged from a low of 22 students to a high of 30 students per course. In both Canadian and American jurisdictions where there has been a significant increase in the e-learning class size, student outcomes have also decreased significantly – particularly in full-time e-learning environments. Finally, the literature demonstrates the local facilitator/mentor role must be included in any conversation around class size because that teacher has a significant impact on class size and, more importantly, student success.

The present e-learning model in Ontario clearly describes the importance of the supporting roles of teachers in school settings where students are taking e-learning courses. If teachers at the school level provide substantial levels of support in a wide range of areas, an e-learning class size could be higher than a traditional brick-and-mortar class in that context because there would be two educators that have instructional responsibility for those students. The larger question looming for the implementation of a drastic increase in e-learning in secondary schools in Ontario is how the present supports, which the research indicates are essential for e-learning success, will be scaled for the unprecedented increase of e-learning courses in the province.

To read the full report, click here.

June 11, 2019

[REPOST] In Conversation with Stephen Hurley: Michael Barbour – Online Learning in Ontario

Originally posted at

Earlier this week Stephen Hurley, as a part of his VoiceEd Radio show “In Conversation,” had a conversation with Michael Barbour about the recent developments in e-learning in Ontario – especially the mandate for students to take four e-learning courses in order to graduate from high school.

The session was described as:

Michael K. Barbour is Associate Professor of Instructional Design for the College of Education and Health Sciences at Touro University California. He has been involved with K-12 online learning in a variety of countries for well over a decade as a researcher, teacher, course designer and administrator.

Michael joins me to talk about the requirement that Ontario secondary school students take 4 of their high school credits online.

You can access the episode directly at:

You can see all of the CANeLearn resources on this issue at:

Note that comments are closed on this entry. If you wish to discuss, please visit the original entry at

June 10, 2019

Report – Missing In Action: School Storm Days, Student Absenteeism And The Workplace

This report, which includes some aspects of K-12 online learning, came across my electronic desk late last week.

Missing in Action: School Storm Days, Student Absenteeism and the Workplace

View a summary of the new study here 

Missing in Action: School Storm Days, Student Absenteeism and the Workplace by Dr. Paul Bennett makes several recommendations to better serve the education and parents of school-age children such as adapting instructional time as a protected a provincial education priority, along with ensuring students’ safety during severe winter weather.

No other region of Canada, urban or rural, comes close to the Maritimes in closing schools for weather-related reasons. Storm day cancellation numbers may go up and down, but the trend from 2013-2014 to 2017-2018 is clear – school is cancelled almost twice as often as it was 20 years ago.

Good public policy is based upon a careful assessment of chronic issues and a grasp of the ripple effect of unintended issues originating in one sector, but with long-term consequences in another. Already high rates of student absenteeism in Nova Scotia’s P-12 schools are compounded by cancelling record numbers of days for weather-related reasons. Based upon the research, it is clear that, as Sharpe and de Avillez (2012) observed, “inappropriate” education policies and practices exert “a negative impact” on productivity in Nova Scotia.

Cancelling school during rare occurrences of adverse weather is not only sensible, but defensible. The critical question is at what point the practice impacts student learning and affects productivity in the workforce. Goodman (2012, 2014) based his research on 2003-2010 data from Massachusetts, which averages three snow days a year. He demonstrated that planned school interruptions were less damaging than student absenteeism, and therefore students were not losing out as a result of closures. However, few commentators examined the magnitude of the difference in storm day cancellations between Massachusetts and Nova Scotia. Nor did they examine conflicting U.S. studies that demonstrated the adverse impact on student progress (Marcotte and Hansen 2010) and the damaging effect of many cancellations on mathematics and reading performance (Gershenson, Jacknowitz, and Brannegan 2015).

Read the full study here

April 14, 2019

Term 1 Update 2019

One for my Kiwi readers to begin their week.

Please note that I am a member of the Governance Group for this e-learning cluster.

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