Responses to the 2018 questionnaire

The return of questionnaires for the 2018 national survey of online learning and distance education in Canadian universities and colleges is now closed. The data tables have been run and we are now writing up the results.

We have had an even better response rate this year than in 2017, with 78% of 234 institutions responding, 182 in all, compared with 69% last year. This is despite the fact that we widened the roster this year from 203 to 234 institutions, to give more representation to francophone institutions/colleges and federally funded institutions.

Better enrolment data

The main change in terms of results this year is that we have much better institutional data on online course enrolments and overall student enrolments. This will enable us to calculate more accurately the proportion of students taking online courses (we had to make an estimate last year, drawing on other sources as well the survey data) and allow us to make better comparisons between provinces and regions.

New questions

We also added some more questions this year about open textbooks and OER, and a question on online learning in non-credit/continuing studies programs, in preparation for the 2019 survey. There will also be a special section in the report on definitions, drawing on questionnaire responses to seek some common ground so that there is consistency in future reporting. Lastly there will a section again in the report comparing online learning in Canada and the USA. Two years’ data are not enough to start identifying trends, but early results this year seem to be validating the main results from last year.

Roll-out of results

This year we will be releasing results over a period of several weeks between now and the end of October, but the final, complete report should be available early in November. It will be released in both English and French at the same time. Sub-reports on different provinces and regions will be released in November and December. The reports will be posted on the two web sites: in English at https://onlinelearningsurveycanada.ca/ and in French at https://formationenlignecanada.ca/ Presentations of the results will be made at several conferences in October and November across Canada.

Survey funding and administration

Funding again is being provided by the various provincial eCampuses, Contact North and Pearson Canada.

Also this year there have been some changes in the administration of the survey. The survey is now administered through a specially formed federally registered non-profit corporation, called the Canadian Digital Learning Research Association, with Tricia Donovan, Denis Mayer and Tony Bates as the directors. This was necessary to provide more financial transparency, reduce liability and to enable applications for funding and easier payment of invoices (in 2017 it all went through either an individual team member’s bank account or through Ryerson University.)

Tony Bates has stepped down as the project leader, who is now Tricia Donovan, previously the Director of eCampus Alberta. We  added two consultants to the team. Eric Martel, of Laval University, joined the team towards the end of the last survey, to strengthen the Québec component, and Vivian Forssman joined the team at the end of 2017. All the rest of the team from 2017 have remained heavily engaged this year as well (Denis Mayer, Ross Paul, Brian Desbiens, Tony Bates, Jeff Seaman and Russ Poulin).

We are also liaising more closely now with the CaneLearn team, who conduct a similar survey of Canadian k-12 schools.

More information – and thanks!

As soon as the first results become available, you will be informed both through these the project web sites.

Lastly, if you helped collect data and/or responded to questions on the survey, many, many thanks. We are extremely grateful, given that this is a purely voluntary survey.