Online education in Canada has become more prevalent over the years, gaining more traction throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Online learning isn’t new, and it was around before the pandemic began. Did you know that online learning in Canada has roots leading back to 1889?
Before the dawn of the internet, online learning was called ‘correspondence education’ in its beginning stages. Correspondence education started through print and quickly increased in the 1920s when some parents requested study materials because they lived too far from the school.
The history of online education in Canada started over 100 years ago and has only gained more and more traction as its grown.
The Canadian Encyclopedia explains correspondence education was first used in 1889 to provide opportunities for rural teachers who could not attend school full time. Soon, the need for correspondence education grew, and many school materials became in demand. By 1912, select universities elected to offer self-study options. In 1921, print copies of materials were being requested for children because they lived too far from the school.
The forty’s brought organizations like CBC, the Canadian Association for Adult Education, and the Federation of Agriculture together who created a radio forum. The broadcasts combined with print materials aimed to facilitate group study sessions with cooperation from universities.
This decade gave rise to several audio and video options used for both children and adults. To meet the needs of students doing co-op audiotaped lectures in conjunction with text and assignments were used.
Some provincial governments recognized distance education’s greater potentiality with a few decades under Canada’s belt of correspondence. The Alberta government opened Athabasca University, which had an “open” system. They relied on print course materials and interaction over the phones. In 1978, B.C. established the Open Learning Institute to provide education to students throughout the province.
Education in this decade boomed across broadcast television companies, providing educational programming for learners of all ages. Between broadcasting, radio, telephone use, and video-conferencing use, education was in full swing.
With the dawn of the internet, access to online education in Canada had ready access to massive information sources, a new way to converse with people from a distance, and a resource pool contributed to by many. Online education in Canada boomed, and many companies sought to reach people in new ways and bring education to the forefront of the digital world.
Today, online diplomas, degrees, and masters from accredited institutions are accepted widely and well-respected by employers. Note, however, that not all online degrees are created equal. Research is highly recommended: make sure you cover a school’s track record, graduate successes, and career goal achievements. Above all, make sure the program you’re taking is accredited. If not, you could be risking your career after all that work!
What are your thoughts on the history of online education in Canada? Were you shocked to find out it’s been around for over 100 years? The internet has become a significant player in access to online education, and its immediacy and access have placed more of a substantial influence and demand for online learning.
If you’re looking for more online learning in Canada expertise, check out the Commonwealth of Learning, which organizes knowledge and resources on online learning and is based in Vancouver, B.C.
Haughey, Margaret. “Distance Learning”. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 15 December 2013, Historica Canada. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/distance-learning. Accessed 18 November 2021.