The Canadian National Online and Digital Learning Survey aims to track the status and development of online, distance and digital learning in public post-secondary education across Canada.

The first National Survey was launched in 2017, by Dr. Tony Bates, with invitations to all 203 Canadian public post-secondary institutions (this first survey was named National Survey of Online Learning and Distance Education). We had an excellent response rate representing 78% of the post-secondary student population and results provided evidence that online learning has been increasing at a rate of 10% -15% per annum. Two-thirds of Canada’s post-secondary institutions see online learning as very or extremely important to their future plans.

Given the tremendous success of the first survey, a second survey was launched in June 2018. Data gathering was undertaken in Summer 2018; survey findings will be reported in December 2018.

The National Online and Digital Learning Survey is now operated by the Canadian Digital Learning Research Association (CDLRA)/ Association canadienne de recherche sur la formation en ligne (ACRFL), a federally incorporated not-for-profit organization. CDLRA/ACFRL receives funding from eCampusOntario, BCcampus, Contact North, Campus Manitoba and private sector companies. Dr. Tricia Donovan serves as the Executive Director,  and Dr. Tony Bates and Dr. Denis Mayer both serve as Directors of the Board. All public survey data is open and hosted by OCAS, the centralized application service for Ontario’s public colleges and shared service provider for organizations across the higher education sector.

History of Survey

In the USA, the Babson Survey Research Group (BSRG) and the Federal Department of Education have been surveying institutions and collecting this kind of data for more than 10 years. These annual surveys have recorded rapid growth in online learning and identified and informed policies and directions being taken by U.S. universities and colleges. Institutional planners, state higher education officials and the media have made heavy use of the annual survey reports. Until 2017, there had been no such tracking of online and distance learning in Canada. Thanks to the efforts of Canadian independent researchers, who worked closely with researchers from the Babson Survey Research Group and the Western Co-operative for Educational Technology (WCET) the first survey was conducted in 2017. The results of the survey were publicly launched on 17 October, 2017, at the ICDE World Congress on Online Learning in Toronto.

The 2017 National Survey of Online and Digital Learning Report is available here:

Responses to the 2017 survey were received from 140 of the 203 institutions, representing 78% of the post-secondary student population.

Sign up now and download the final 2017 report.