Member Spotlight: Navigate

June 2016

This is the third in a series of member organization spotlights.  If you are interested in having your organization featured, or have any suggestions how to improve spotlights, please email  As part of this feature we highlight member contributions to CANeLearn and provide links to resources shared by members.

Navigate (powered by NIDES)

North Island Distance Education School (NIDES) was one of nine regional distance education schools created when the correspondence branch of the Ministry of Education was dismantled.  In 1994, NIDES and the other designated nine regional distance education schools began moving their paper-based correspondence model to an online one, and NIDES was first to take on the challenge.  The school provided students with modems, internet access and technical support so they could email other students and participate in online learning with their teacher – in 1994 NIDES was the place for innovation in the emerging online learning environment and the other schools followed suit.

In 2012 there was a shift in thinking in the school district, and a new leadership team at NIDES migrated the school away from its correspondence school roots to embrace a student-centric blended learning model.  To emphasize this point, the name “Navigate” was added to the school’s moniker, emphasizing the school’s shift to a more personalized learning approach.  Navigate launched several unique programs that required both online and classroom-based interactions between and among students, teachers, and even parents.  See a synopsis of the school’s teaching and learning philosophy and Fine Arts eCademy on Youtube here.

Navigate has designed and developed two new 21st Century blended learning programs in the school district: The Fine Arts eCademy (K-9) and The eCademy of New Technologies, Engineering & Robotics – ENTER (6-7) and ENTER 2 (8-9), and iMAKER 10-12 program, the extension of ENTER into the secondary graduation program years.  The school has also established a Secondary Leadership Program – iClass and “The Matrix” (10-12) for full time senior secondary students as a program of choice.  Along with the implementation of full time Independent Learning Centres (ILCs) at all three secondary schools in the Comox Valley with the goal of maximizing timetable/program flexibility and a cooperative program with Denman and Hornby Island schools to support two unique and new blended educational platforms for each community.

The ENTER program uses flexible and personalized learning approaches available through distributed learning online, and its evolving curriculum and instructional practices, providing teachers the freedom to structure time differently, enabling a student-centred design to come to fruition.  In this way the unique needs of any student, and challenges of those with special needs, can be accommodated within a personalized, flexible student-centred learning program.  ENTER is unique in its ability to do this in its innovative approach that it bridges the gap between classroom and online programs and combines a critical role for parents as co-facilitators of learning.

Navigate has continued its history of innovation and was awarded the 2014 iNACOL Innovative Blended and Online Learning Practice Award (, which recognizes learning practices, new research and individual achievements in the field of blended and online learning.

Recent Navigate contributions include:

  • May 11 Session: blendED@Navigate: A Journey of Disruptive Innovation – Jeff Stewart & Marieke Holtkamp

About Navigate

Navigate (powered by NIDES) is a fully funded and accredited BC school operating within the Comox Valley School District No. 71 that offers distributed learning opportunities throughout BC, elementary and secondary students in their district the opportunity to personalize their learning and take control of their own education, and adult learners the chance to upgrade or take additional courses without ever stepping inside a BC high school.

Though roots in the Comox Valley, Navigate serves more than 3,000 learners across Vancouver Island and throughout BC in K-9high school and adult learning programs.  That includes more than 1,400 cross-enrolled secondary students, many of whom access courses online or through an Independent Learning Centre located within a bricks-and-mortar BC high school.

Navigate uses a distributed learning approach, where learning takes places when a student is primarily at a distance from the teacher either studying online at home, with another school authority, or anywhere else with an Internet connection.  Navigate is increasingly combining online distance learning with face-to-face classroom instruction in the Comox Valley, Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach and anywhere in the world via interactive technologies like online video conferencing and virtual classrooms.  This “blended learning” model allows students to forge relationships with their teachers and the broader community while still offering all the flexibility of traditional distributed learning, distance learning and even home school models.