Virtual School Meanderings

April 10, 2021

ONE WEEK LEFT to Register in 3-5 Credit & EL/JH SI Courses!

An item from a Canadian-based K-12 online learning program.

ONE WEEK LEFT to Register in 3-5 Credit & EL/JH SI Courses!
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ONE WEEK LEFT to Register!

April 16 marks the last day to register students in the following Student Instruction (SI) courses (including students on the waiting list):
  • senior high school 3-, 4- and 5-credit
  • all elementary/junior high

To register a student, talk to your school’s ADLC Super User or visit our website.

Important Reminders!

  • If you are unable to register a student in a course because it is full, you have the option to add the student to the waiting list.
  • The registration deadline for 1-credit SI courses is May 14
  • The course completion deadline for students writing diploma exams is June 2 and June 14 for all remaining courses, unless stated otherwise by the ADLC teacher. 
  • There are NO ADLC summer extensions.
  • ADLC is closing after the 2020-21 school year. All important closure information can be found on our website.
If you have any questions, please give us a call at 1-866-774-5333, ext. 5378 or email

Alberta Distance Learning Centre

Supporting your students in your schools.

ADLC is committed to helping students reach their potential through partnerships with schools and providing Grades 1 to 12 students from diverse backgrounds with high quality, innovative resources in an inclusive and flexible learning environment.

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April 8, 2021

AERA 2021 – Documenting Triage: Detailing the Response of Canadian Provinces and Territories to Emergency Remote Teaching

About an hour ago, my colleagues and I finished our poster presentation for the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association.  Here is the asynchronous version of that presentation.

Abstract: While it is not uncommon for Canadian schools to be closed for short, and sometimes extended, periods of time – often due to snow or other climate-related causes, the indefinite closure during Spring 2020 was an emergency situation that school leaders and government officials were unprepared for. This proposal describes a project undertaken by a pan-Canadian e-learning organization to report the actions each of the 13 provinces and territories undertook to provide continuity of learning for K-12 students. The proposal provides some national observations, but the eventual presentation will provide a detailed description by jurisdiction. It is descriptive in nature, as opposed to evaluative, as any triage that is provided during an emergency is better than the alternative.


  • Michael K. Barbour, Touro University California
  • Joelle Nagle, University of Windsor
  • Randy LaBonte, Canadian eLearning Network

Slides available at

This video is cross-posted on the CANeLearn channel at

April 4, 2021

The Volume of Our Voices

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 2:07 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

We wanted to pass thing along for students in Ontario on behalf of the Ontario Student Trustees Association.

Our partner, OSTA-AECO wants to help uplift your voice! Their current advocacy project, the Volume of Our Voices, aims to collect the stories of Ontario’s diverse student body and allow each and every story to be heard and given a platform. Share your stories and have a chance to win a total of a $250 prize!

March 31, 2021

March 2021 Newsletter

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 10:05 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

A newsletter from a pan-Canadian K-12 e-learning organization.

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Photo credit: Ellen Kinsel | Northern Exposure

Welcome to the March CANeLearn News.

Who’s ready for Spring?  We know our colleagues in the prairie provinces certainly are!  March is closing like a lamb in some provinces, not so much in others where it remains a lion.

April typically brings a strong sense of renewal and optimism, this year again tempered by the fatigue and challenges of the pandemic.  We have several upcoming events to lift spirits and practice, and this newsletter is packed with ideas and resources to check out, reflect on, and share with others as you continue to improve online practice.

April 22-23 Digital Learning Symposium

CANeLearn, in partnership with the BC Partners in Online Learning, is offering an engaging online program this year for the 18th Annual DL Symposium featuring:

Join for a day or both days;  registration information here, the program found here.


Both software developers and educators must strive for true inclusivity for online learning.  Education platforms must be accessible to all users – teachers and students alike.  The educational content that educators create must also be designed for users with a broad range of abilities, so that they’re able to perceive, understand, navigate and interact with it.

Presentation by Gavin Henrick and Karen Holland, Brickfield Education Labs, on Accessibility for Tips for Teachers
Teachers are specialists in their respective disciplines and not necessarily web or accessibility experts.  This presentation looks at the content we create and advise on how best to make it accessible.

Blog post Tips to Make Your LMS Content Accessible
While focused on Moodle, the information contained in this post can be applied to any LMS.

Designing for Accessibility (PDF posters)
  Includes tips for designing content for accessibility for special needs such as autism, dyslexia, users of screen readers, low vision, physical or motor disabilities, deaf or hard of hearing, and anxiety,

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter #CANeLearn, Facebook, or YouTube.

Please forward this on to others in your own networks using the tools at the bottom.

Photos, unless otherwise noted, by @rlabonte, ekinsel, or Unsplash

Featured Events

Featured Events

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash


Overcoming Adversity with Resilience  and Hope for the Future:  Webinar Archive from Digital Learning Day 2021



18th Annual Digital Learning Symposium!

Online April 22nd and April 23rd 

Leading flexible learning models, environments, and online instructional approaches

Registration and more information here! 

Follow #DLsymp21



Mark the dates: Upcoming Online Conferences


Weekend reading

5 Tips for Creating a More Engaging Online Course for Adult Learners

As online learning opportunities continue to grow, the challenge for educators is to stay abreast of shifts and use new strategies to provide the best education possible.  When teaching courses online, it is critical to apply evidence-based strategies to improve engagement, satisfaction, and comprehension for students of all ages. The following five tips have been developed from research geared toward shifting live onsite classes to online or blended learning courses.

  1. Choose assignments that create a connection among students;
  2. Create different modes of learning for different learning styles;
  3. Allow for problem-based learning;
  4. Use blended learning to ensure maximal interaction and engagement; and
  5. Allow for autonomy and self-direction.

read the full article here

Online Learning is an Opportunity to Meet the Needs of Struggling Students

Research conducted in South Africa showed that a total of 97% of educators never or seldom use a flexible curriculum and extra time to accommodate the diverse learning needs of students.  The study was conducted among a group of student teachers to see whether a different approach to instruction could help them.  This approach was differentiated instruction – that is when the instructor tailor-makes support for individual students.  Content, assessment, and strategies were designed to meet their needs.  The results suggested that this could improve students’ performance.

Read the full article here

At home for a year, office workers complain of aches, pains, and Zoom fatigue

Back in March 2020, when many companies directed most of their staff to leave the office and telecommute in an effort to slow the spread of a scary new coronavirus, the experience of working from home felt novel, perhaps even exciting for some workers.  At the very least, it was considered a blessing to have the option, particularly as workers in other sectors, such as health-care workers and grocery store staff, didn’t have the same choice, and many other workers were laid off because of the pandemic’s economic toll.  But working from makeshift setups with non-ergonomic chairs and unorthodox workspaces has caused its share of physical strain, and collaborating with colleagues remotely for so long has only worsened a COVID 19-era ailment of another kind: Zoom fatigue.

Read the full article here

TIP: Check out the Well-Being workshop!


Virtual Reality in K-12 and Higher Education: A Systematic Review of the Literature from 2000 to 2019

This study is a systematic review of 20 years of research on the usage of virtual reality in K‐12 and higher education settings, which aims to consolidate, evaluate, and communicate evidence that can inform both the theory and practice of VR‐based instruction.  The literature analysis emphasized four interrelated aspects of VR‐based instruction: instructional context, instructional design, technological affordances, and research findings.

Read the full article here


Photo by Spencer on Unsplash

Photo by @felipepelaquim on Unsplash

Bridging the Digital Divide 1: from a Business Perspective

Tony Bates

Review of a report in The Economist that “explores the impact of the new higher education paradigm spurred by covid-19 on teaching and learning experiences, engagement, performance, and value….the report explores how covid-19 hit the “fast-forward” button on the remote education revolution, and its resulting impacts on teaching and learning.” 

Read the full article here

Bridging the Digital Divide 2: Technology Inequities and Solutions

The second post in a series of three about reports on the digital divide and online learning. This report focuses on inequities among students and provides examples and suggestions about how to mitigate these inequities.

Read the full article here

Bridging the Digital Divide 3: The Fundamentals of Inequality

This report examines the pandemic’s impact on students, from their basic needs security to their well-being, as indicated by employment status, academic engagement, and mental health.

Read the full article here

NPR Poll: Nearly One-third of Parents May Stick with Remote Learning

One year after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered classrooms around the country and the world, U.S. parents are guardedly optimistic about the academic and social development of their children.

Read the full article here


Virtual Student Engagement Isn’t Impossible

One frustration that sticks out the most, makes us question our belief in our teaching abilities, and makes us feel as if we no longer have an impact: Not knowing how to engage our students anymore.  In the shift to virtual learning, many of the strategies that we had previously used to draw our students’ attention have fallen by the wayside.  Author Melissa Childs found it helpful to take a step back and remember what we already know about engaging learners.  There are three types of student engagement: emotional, behavioral, and cognitive.  When students are engaged in all three components, they can learn at their highest capability.

Read the full article here


Teaching Grade 9 Online: Learning During the Pandemic

Karen Kennedy-Allin had been using computers as a tool for teaching since 2010, recording lessons or saving the work so her students could access them for help and take notes during any time of the day.  Now, from behind her computer, she teaches all three dozen Grade 9 Horizon School Division students who’ve opted for online learning.  This article outlines a typical day in the life of online teaching and explores the challenges and benefits.

Read the full article here

Embrace the Strange: Advice from a Northern Teacher on Virtual Learning

Albee Eisbrenner has been teaching high school physical education and math through the Keewaytinook Internet High School while based in North Spirit Lake First Nation, Keewaywin First Nation, and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug.  Since he was evacuated due to COVID-19 he’s been teaching remotely from Winnipeg.  Read about Albee’s experiences teaching online, how COVID-19 has changed things and the advice he has for northern teachers taking on virtual learning.

Read the full article here

Classroom Activities

Online or Face-to-Face


Photo by Zbyněk Skrčený on Unsplash

Challenge4Climate Action
Hosted by

Climate change threatens every part of the planet. It’s a global problem that requires global cooperation. The challenge aims to leverage the insights, creativity, and capabilities of the global student collective to address urgent threats to some of the planet’s most precious resources and ecosystems.

CANeLearn was thrilled to be a part of this unique initiative as a Committee Member/Judge.’s Student #Challenge4ClimateAction competing teams presented on March 27 –  Archive recordings here…

Pandemic Experiences

CANeLearn is researching what K-12 school districts across Canada have offered in the way of programming and supports during the pandemic.  We published our first report in August, the second in November, that detailed what the Ministries and Departments announced in the Spring and Fall of 2020 for remote learning.  The third report, Stories from the Field: Voices of K-12 Stakeholders During Pandemic, brings the voices of stakeholders from across Canada describing what they experienced.  The fourth is due out soon!

Access the Research Report Publications and Presentations here

Resources for the Digital Classroom


Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

How to Build a Strong Virtual Classroom Community

There is light at the end of our long tunnel of social isolation, but teachers still need to focus on students’ sense of connection to their peers and school community.  It can be challenging to foster inclusive communities in the virtual environment.  In addition to adapting trusted strategies for delivering instruction and learning some new ones, it’s important for teachers to make sure that their students feel safe and included.  Even if a student is keeping up with their work, the pressures of learning how to navigate the virtual environment and social isolation can leave them feeling disconnected from their teachers and peers.  While synchronous experiences, either online or in-person, can be more conducive to community building than asynchronous ones, there are plenty of strategies that teachers can use to cultivate relationships from afar that can occur in class or outside of it.  Read the full article here

From previous newsletters…

Active Learning Online: Yes You Can

Because of their versatility, active learning activities can be designed and conducted in a variety of environments and formats. As we are getting more familiar with teaching and learning online, we discover various possibilities to actively engage students throughout the course. It does seem quite daunting, especially because it feels like these activities are more difficult to accomplish and monitor virtually. But leaving those fears aside, the author discusses what we need to be mindful of when using active learning in our online courses. Read the full article here

An Important Distance Learning Resource for Teachers, Students, and Parents

Wide Open School offers free learning activities for all grades. Students can browse activities related to various subjects including social studies, emotional wellbeing, reading and writing, math, arts, music, science, English language learning, digital citizenship, and more. Within each of these activities, you can search for materials by grade level or search label. You can for instance search for activities that include videos, worksheets, lessons, etc. Some of these activities offer free downloadable materials. You can also share them to Google Classroom.

Principles for Remote Instruction: Notes from a #TLAC Masterclass

Participant notes from a workshop about excellent remote instruction, delivered via excellent remote instruction. Read more here

Tools for Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning, or PBL, challenges students to design and engage in more authentic, extended, and complex learning. But while PBL is a trusted strategy for increasing student engagement and learning, it’s not easy to orchestrate. There are tons of moving pieces, and if you’re doing it right, students will be engaging in a variety of interest-driven projects all with various needs and on different schedules. So how do you manage it all? Tech can be a huge help. This list gathers some useful productivity and organization tools that can help both teachers and students keep track of, finish, and assess projects. There are also a few tools designed specifically for PBL, as well as plug-and-play PBL experiences. Learn about these tools here

Rough Guide for Spotting Bad Science

Being able to evaluate the evidence behind a scientific claim is important. Being able to recognize bad science reporting, or faults in scientific studies is equally important. Includes 12 points to help separate the science from the pseudoscience. Download the PDF here

Supporting the Continuation of Teaching and Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Annotated Resources for Online Learning

This brief discusses the second module of a series that presents the results of a comparative analysis of emerging educational needs and responses as the pandemic unfolds across countries around the world. The overall goal of this series is to facilitate the rapid design process and implementation of adaptive responses to the emerging education challenges and to protect young people’s educational opportunities during and following the pandemic. Get the PDF here

Cooperative or peer learning is a thoroughly researched educational practice with consistently strong positive effects. provides a variety of benefits for teachers, students, and schools. Learn more here

Virtual Manipulatives to Use in Your Teaching

Toy Theatre offers a collection of virtual manipulatives that help model abstract mathematical concepts for deeper student comprehension. The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives offers resources organized into five categories: Number and Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis and Probability. Check it out here

ABC Learning Design 

Spreadsheet template to facilitate the collaborative design of learning scenarios. Check it out here

Common Sense Education Resources

UNESCO Resources

Quality Matters Emergency Remote Teaching Checklist

CANeLearn’s Emergency Remote Teaching Resources, Tools, Ideas 

  • CANeLearn has published a page with a collection of resources from other organizations, emerging tools, and ideas about pivoting to remote teaching
  • Check it out here

eCampusOntario’s updated list of tools and resources

Adventures in Archives

Check out links to past CANeLearn events

Featured Event

  • CANeLearn researched what K-12 school districts across Canada have offered in the way of programming and supports during the pandemic.  Check out the research project website for reports, recordings, and slide decks.

All archives here

Stay Connected!

  • Use #CANeLearn to stream specific items of interest to members. Join the conversation!
  • Follow @CANeLearn, “like” us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel
  • Check out our Members’ Site
  • Join CANeLearn – only $50 for associate membership!

The Canadian eLearning Network (CANeLearn) is a Canadian registered not-for-profit society with a vision to be the leading voice in Canada for learner success in K-12 online and blended learning.  CANeLearn provides members with networking, collaboration, and research opportunities..


CANeLearn promotes effective practice in online and blended learning; fosters community and facilitates interaction among online and blended learning educators; and connects educators to online and blended learning organizations.


March 30, 2021

The Education hole in provincial budget; major changes coming to online learning

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 7:34 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

An item from an Ontario-based general education organization.

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Education glaringly absent in Ontario budget 2021-22

Little new funding for education, little extension of pandemic funding

Compared to previous budgets, which often had whole chapters about education, Ontario’s budget announcement on March 24th contained surprisingly little reference to education.

Where education was mentioned, there appeared to be only minor funding to support school boards in dealing with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. And there was no recognition of the challenges facing boards, many of whom have been forced to spend their reserves to cover the costs of needed staff or are now in deficit positions.

The only major education-related announcement was that the province will provide parents of students in public or private school with payments of $400 per child, or $500 per child with special needs. The Minister of Finance said that these payments, which started in the first year of the pandemic, will cost the province $1.8 billion in total. Many argue that the $1.8 billion would have a more efficient, effective, and equitable impact if it were used to support programs and services for students in schools.
The details about funding for school boards will come sometime in April when the province announces the Grants for Student Needs and the Priorities and Partnership Funding.
Read People for Education’s budget analysis

Ontario planning major change in online learning

Province plans to introduce legislation this spring

The province has laid out a plan to move control of online learning in secondary schools out of the hands of school boards and instead put it under the control of TVO’s Independent Learning Centre. TVO is a charity and an arm’s length agency of the province overseen by an unelected volunteer board of governors.

If legislation to amend the Education Act passes in May, this change – along with a requirement that school boards offer online learning to any elementary or secondary student who requests it – will begin to be implemented in the fall of 2021.

The Ontario Public School Board Association has raised grave concerns about the province’s plans, saying that students are much better served through online learning managed by their local school boards.

Read People for Education’s analysis and more details about the potential plan

Education in the news

People for Education curates a section on our website with up-to-date research and articles about education, before, during, and after COVID-19.

This week’s features includes an opinion on childcare and education as vital to a post economic recovery, a UNESCO report highlighting the need to invest in student well-being post pandemic, and the results of a TDSB survey of its parents, students and staff on COVID-19 protection and well-being struggles.

Read our latest resources

Follow us for more regular updates on education policy and research

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