Reconsidering the Mandatory in Ontario Online Learning Policies
Keywords:mandatory online learning, online learning, critical policy analysis, k-12 education, technology-enabled education, emergency remote teaching
In March 2019, the Ontario government announced that commencing in 2023-24, secondary school students (Grades 9-12) would be required to gain four of 30 graduation credits through online courses. At the time of the policy pronouncement, these four credits (or courses) would become the first mandatory online courses in Canadian K-12 education. The policy decision and process were challenged publicly, and the educational context changed quickly with the ensuing contingencies of the global pandemic. The policy was subsequently revised and, at present, Ontario requires two mandatory online secondary school credits for graduation, which is twice the requirement of any other North American jurisdiction. In this study, the researchers employ a critical policy analysis framework to examine the concept of mandatory online learning in Ontario through multiple temporal contexts. First, they examine Ontario’s mandatory online learning policy prior to the shutdown of Ontario schools during the 2020-2021 global pandemic. Next, they examine aspects of Ontario’s mandatory online learning policy in K-12 during the emergency remote learning phase of the pandemic. In the final section, the authors provide a retrospective analysis of the decisions around mandatory e-learning policy and explore policy options going forward for mandatory e-learning in the K-12 sector post-pandemic.
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