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Distributed Learning

Distributed learning (DL) is a method of teaching students outside of traditional schools using online and other electronic-based delivery methods.

The School Act defines distributed learning as “a method of instruction that relies primarily on indirect communication between students and teachers, including internet or other electronic-based delivery, teleconferencing or correspondence.”1 With prior agreement of the Minister of Education, a board may provide all or part of an educational program by distributed learning.2

The number of students enrolled in DL programs in public schools has remained roughly the same, while enrolment in distributed learning in independent schools has increased dramatically.

Enrolment in DL programs in public schools experienced a significant surge around 2003–04. Since then, however, it has slowly declined. Since 2004–05, the percent of enrolment in DL programs in public schools has remained steady at about 1.2%. In comparison, enrolment in DL programs in independent schools has grown steadily and is now greater than DL enrolment in public schools. Starting in 2012­–13, about 10% of student enrolment in independent schools is in DL programs.3

DLgraph1 DLgraph2


1 BC Ministry of Education (2016). “Revised Statutes of British Columbia, 1996.” School Act. Victoria: Governance and Legislation Branch.

2 Ibid.

3 BC Ministry of Education. (2004–17). Student Statistics – (Various Years) Province - Public and Independent Schools Combined. Victoria: Government of British Columbia. 

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