Interest in online education in Canada is very strong, and many Canadians utilize online education all around the globe.
To date, however, there has not been the same interest in investing in online education in Canada by public and private institutions in terms of investment dollars. As of 2006, a Canadian study reported that more than 15 million adults used the Internet in Canada that year, and more than 4 out of 10 reported to go online for educational purposes. It was found that about 6.5 million of them went online for education, training or school work. Of course, many Canadians are using the Internet for education purposes that are related to looking up information for school assignments and for solving problems.
However, looking deeper at the data shows how many Canadians are using online education for distance online education purposes. About 4 million of those people who were online in 2006 were doing distance education programs. Also, it was found that people who live in smaller Canadian communities used the Internet more for distance education purposes.
Still there, is a ways to go in Canada to catch up with Europe and the United States in online educational opportunities. In the US, the Dept. of Education is investing $2 billion into opened licensed online materials, which allows their free derivative use for commercial and noncommercial purposes. Course materials are then able to be freely adapted and many low cost online courses are then made available in many countries.
In Canada, the government gives out hundreds of millions in grants, but does not ensure that the material that is created is openly available to the public. There are some online education programs that are being launched from some Canadian universities, but to this point, there are no really strong online education efforts in Canada that can compete with some of the online programs in other countries. These programs are drawing away Canadian students from online education in their home country.
There is no doubt that there is a strong demand for online education in Canada, and some for-profit schools from the US are setting up shop here, such as University of Phoenix. The demand is here in Canada for more online education, there just needs to be more dollars devoted to it by the government and private sector.