From September 2023, only designated provincial online learning schools will be able to enroll students from outside their district – and Burnaby Online will be one of them.
Local school officials expect the Burnaby School District’s 23-year distance learning program to expand after being chosen as one of 18 “Provincial Online Learning Schools” in British Columbia
Burnaby Online was chosen after a year-long application process, according to Ces Martino, the program’s district manager.
“They were looking for a wide variety of services and the ability to move upmarket and a quality program,” he said.
Since 2018, the Department of Education has been working on changes to remote learning in the province to “ensure consistent access to quality programs for all students in the province,” according to the department’s website.
Under this plan, it selects only some of the 51 distance learning programs currently operating in the province and designates them as provincial schools of online learning.
The ministry has already selected 18 public school district programs.
The selection process for independent provincial e-learning schools will not be completed until the fall, according to the ministry.
As of September 2023, only provincial e-learning schools will be able to enroll students from outside their district.
All provincial e-learning schools will also move to the same new e-learning platform: D2L light space.
The Burnaby Distance Learning Program was launched at the new Burnaby Mountain Secondary School in 1999.
At the time, it was primarily a pen pal program, according to Martino.
Today, the program is run out of Cariboo Hill High School.
With approximately 3,000 students, it offers 80 online high school courses and a K-7 program.
“We have students who start with us in kindergarten and go all the way to 12th grade,” Martino said.
He said about 80% of Burnaby Online students live in Burnaby while the rest live elsewhere in the province.
Without the provincial e-learning school designation, Burnaby Online risked losing approximately 20% of its students,
Overall, Martino and Director of Education Kevin Brandt said changes to online education in the province would be good for Burnaby’s curriculum.
“It’s not like it’s a cookie cutter”
On the one hand, they expect more students because there will be fewer programs to choose from for BC parents who want to enroll their children in classes in other districts.
And students already enrolled in Burnaby Online won’t see many changes, except for the new online learning platform.
“There will definitely be learnings for students, but I think from an assessment quality perspective, our alignment with the redesigned curriculum, I think this learning management system will be better for us,” he said. .
And just because provincial e-learning schools will all be using the same platform doesn’t mean the learning won’t be personalized, according to Brandt.
“It’s not like it’s a cookie cutter,” he said. “There’s still all that customization that can be done.”
According to Brandt, another benefit of having all provincial online learning schools on the same page is that they receive more support from the province than they did before, and this includes training teachers on how to use the new system.
“The department has actually spent quite a bit of time and resources to help this process,” he said.
For more information on the changes to online education, visit Ministry of Education webpage.