BIT 2015 – Flexible Learning Western Style: Emerging Models Integrating Distributed/Distance Learning in BC & Alberta

The third session that we are blogging at the Bring IT Together 2015 conference is:

Flexible Learning Western Style: Emerging Models Integrating Distributed/Distance Learning in BC & Alberta

by Randy LaBonte

Join this discussion session and learn how BC and Alberta schools are moving beyond tech to using design principles to influence Blended Learning for online and classroom-based instruction. Randy will share how BC and Alberta schools and districts are organizing for flexible and personal learning opportunities in middle and secondary schools, all while maximizing learning resources and enhancing teachers’ tech skills.

Bring your own Blended Learning projects to discuss, share and dissect. Let’s share our successes to date and determine how best to design great Blended Learning opportunities for students.

Specific outcomes of this session include:
• Awareness of specific emerging blended models in BC and Alberta;
• Understanding of policy and funding implications inherent in various models; and
• How re-characterizing the “Carnegie Unit” opens new opportunities for flexible and engaging learning approaches.

Randy began his session with an overview of the Canadian eLearning Network – see for more information.  He then asked the participants what they wanted to get out of the session, so he could tailor his comments to their specific needs.  He then referenced the State of the Nation: K-12 Online Learning in Canada report (see for more information).

The substance of his presentation was fairly consistent with the presentation he gave at PTDEA (see

Looking at the Alberta context, he describe a bit of what was happening at the movement – with the range of diversity of programs that occur, and the lack of guidance/support from the Ministry.  He also talked a little about the background to how much of this got started, focusing a bit on SuperNet.  At present, there is a great deal of Google use, as well as Moodle.  There are also two growing movements – one focused around high school flex options and the other around blended learning (see

Turning his attention to British Columbia, there was a policy shift in British Columbia to move from the nine regional distributed learning schools to an open course policy model – which allowed the funding to follow the student based on where the student enrolled for that course.  This open course model allowed for enrollment in distributed learning to grow significantly.  As one BC example that Randy focused on was the Navigate program (see

Some emerging observations that Randy did focus on, included:

  1. Blended and online practice are blurring – it is more about learning within flexible structures.
  2. Transition from online to blended more difficult than from classroom to blended/online.
  3. Personalization and flexibility are the critical drivers (often based on policy, or a lack thereof).
  4. First Nations seem to have a greater collaborative and broader focus.
  5. Research focus on better data and exploring pockets of innovation.

Randy finished his session with a conversation about about 10-15 minutes of chatting with the attendees.

You can view Randy’s slides at:

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