Ontario Invests in Virtual Learning StrategyPublished on December 11, 2020
Province strengthens its position as a global leader in postsecondary education
TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing $50 million in virtual learning and educational technologies to help expand access to high-quality, market-responsive, and globally competitive "Ontario Made" education. The move will strengthen the province's position as a global leader in the postsecondary sector.
"This is an historic investment that will support lifelong learners in achieving their educational and professional aspirations," said Ross Romano, Minister of College and Universities. "It's the first of its kind in our province's history - providing dedicated funding to support virtual learning at publicly-assisted colleges, universities, and Indigenous Institutes."
Informed by consultations with the postsecondary sector, the Virtual Learning Strategy will emphasize the importance of accessible and sustainable growth in educational technology and virtual learning, and support Ontario's efforts to grow our digital footprint by:
- Positioning Ontario as a global leader and testbed for digital innovation in educational technology.
- Establishing Ontario as a global leader in virtual learning by creating opportunities for international students who want to study from their home, while accessing Ontario's world-class, digital content.
- Encouraging lifelong learning by supporting virtual micro-credential programs to help people learn new skills at their own pace, when and where they need their education most.
- Increasing the quality and availability of virtual learning efforts to build upon the work of the Ontario Government and the Special Implementation Team on Intellectual Property to advance Ontario's Intellectual Property Action Plan.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of high-quality and accessible virtual learning. In the early days of the pandemic, our sector's immediate and short term response to building upon our virtual needs was an absolutely necessary step to guaranteeing the academic continuity of our students and ensuring that no one lost a year of study," said Minister Romano. "It became abundantly clear during that time that Ontario could once again demonstrate our world renowned leadership in postsecondary education by developing our own "Ontario Made" virtual strategy with education that is flexible and responsive to the needs of the labour market."
The Virtual Learning Strategy for postsecondary education is one of more than 30 projects in Ontario Onwards: Ontario's COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government that will change the way people and businesses interact with government.
"Through our government's Virtual Learning Strategy, we are harnessing the power of technology and leveraging innovation to provide world-class post-secondary opportunities to Ontario's students," said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board and Minister Responsible for Digital and Data Transformation. "As part of our Ontario Onwards Action Plan for a People-Focused Government, this strategy will help fulfill our vision to make Ontario the global leader in providing digital and data-driven services. We know that fostering the ingenuity and innovation of our young people is one way we can build the workforce of tomorrow - today."
The Virtual Learning Strategy will build on and leverage Ontario's existing digital learning organizations - Contact North and eCampusOntario - that improve access and drive innovation in virtual teaching and learning.
- eCampusOntario is a centre of excellence in online and technology-enabled learning that is governed by Ontario’s publicly-assisted postsecondary institutions.
- Contact North is a community-based bilingual distance education and training network that expands access to distance education courses, programs and training for Ontarians in underserved northern, remote, rural, Indigenous and Francophone communities.
- Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government includes more than 30 projects that will improve the way people and businesses interact with government, saving them both time and money.
- In July, 2020, the Ontario government announced a made-in-Ontario Intellectual Property Action Plan to help ensure the tremendous social and economic benefits of taxpayer-funded research and innovation stays right here in the province.
"eCampusOntario is proud to be leading the implementation of this critical new initiative to help drive the advancement and growth of virtual learning across the province,” said Robert Luke, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, eCampusOntario. “Over the coming months, we will be working with Ontario’s colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes to help them create world-class digital-first educational programs, providing Ontarians with access to the education and training they need for jobs in the pandemic and post-pandemic economies."
"We’re pleased the province is strengthening students’ access to digital learning,” said Linda Franklin, CEO and President of Colleges Ontario. “This important investment into world-class digital content at Ontario’s colleges will improve the student experience and ensure there are more graduates with the expertise to contribute to Ontario’s economic renewal."
"With a shared commitment to ensuring Ontario has the workforce to drive innovation and navigate our changing economy, Ontario’s universities welcome the province’s new Virtual Learning Strategy,” said Steve Orsini, President and CEO, Council of Ontario Universities. “Ontario’s universities will continue to partner to advance digital learning, equipping students, workers and non-traditional learners with both the skills and the tools needed to thrive in a technologically enabled economy and help drive innovation in communities throughout Ontario."