Distance Learning

Ontario Online Will Expand Access to Courses for Province's Students

Plans are moving ahead for Ontario Online to become available to almost all of the province's college students in fall 2015.

Ontario Online, an initiative of the Ontario Online Centre of Excellence, will offer online courses from many of the province's colleges and universities that students at other institutions can take for credit.

For instance, the University of Toronto (UT) plans to offer seven courses via Ontario Online. A student at the University of Western Ontario can pay tuition and take the course for credit.

Ontario Online was seeded by $42 million in funding from the provincial government. While there are 44 accredited colleges and universities in the province, Ontario Online administrators are still working on signing the institutions up and it is not yet clear how many will be involved.

It is likely the 2015-16 school year will open with a schedule of courses and more will be added in succeeding academic years.

Ontario Online was initiated by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities with the goal to "share best practices in pedagogy and online resources, as well as offer state-of-the-art scalable courses that are recognized for credit across multiple institutions."

Sioban Nelson, vice president of academic programs at the University of Toronto, said academic credits will be transferred by way of the normal transfer credit processes at each university. A student's home university will also have the authority to decide which transfer credits to accept. A list of which courses are acceptable by which universities will be available well before students need to register for the 2015-16 school year.

"One of the big problems in the past is that a student takes a course at another university and finds out they can't use it for their degree,' said UT Senior Lecturer Don Boyes, whose course, Geographic Information and Mapping I, will be available with Ontario Online. "They're trying to eliminate that problem."

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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