Distributed Learning in British Columbia: A Journey from Correspondence to Online Delivery


  • Tim Winkelmans British Columbia Ministry of Education
  • Barry Anderson Solte Consulting
  • Michael Barbour Wayne State University


Kindergarten to Year 12 distance education began in Canada in British Columbia, around 1919. This fi rst distance education was by correspondence. Canada’s fi rst online learning also began in British Columbia, about 15 years ago. Distance education and online learning have continued to grow in British Columbia as a result of geographic and demographic factors. This article describes the development and regulation of K–12 distance education in British Columbia, and the lessons drawn from this history that could be used in other jurisdictions.

Author Biographies

Tim Winkelmans, British Columbia Ministry of Education

Tim Winkelmans is currently Manager of the E-Learning Programs Unit of the Ministry of Education in British Columbia. He has been associated with public service
technology and distance education initiatives in British Columbia since 1989. Tim is currently completing his doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Calgary.

Barry Anderson, Solte Consulting

Barry Anderson is Executive Director of the Virtual School Society, an organisation dedicated to increasing access to high quality online educational services in British Columbia. A graduate of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, former professor of Education at Washington University in St. Louis, and former executive with the British Columbia Ministry of Education, Barry brings his experience with a wide array of research, financial, policy, and administrative approaches to the support of online education.

Michael Barbour, Wayne State University

Michael Barbour is an Assistant Professor in Instructional
Technology at Wayne State University. He has been
involved with virtual schools in Canada and the United
States for the past decade as a researcher, teacher, course
designer, and administrator. Michael’s research focuses on
rural K–12 students learning in online environments.