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Updated March 2019

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 school board may provide all or part of an educational program by distributed learning.2

Student enrolment in DL programs in public schools has dropped greatly, but student enrolment in DL programs in independent school has skyrocketed.

Since 2004–05, the percent of enrolment in DL programs in public schools has remained steady at about 1.2% or total student enrolment. But with overall declining enrolment in public schools, DL enrolment has also declined by 2,500. In comparison, enrolment in DL programs in independent schools has grown steadily until 2014–15 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

Distributed Learning graphs


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

2 Ibid.

3 Ministry of Education. (2019). BC Schools - Student Enrolment and FTE by Grade.

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