An Analysis of Digital Education in Canada in 2017-2019




digital education, higher education, university, college, Canada, qualitative analysis


Digital education refers to in-person, blended, and fully online learning efforts, as well as attempts to capture a wide range of teaching and learning contexts which make use of digital technology. While digital education is pervasive in Canada, pan-Canadian data on digital education are relatively scarce. The Canadian Digital Learning Research Association/Association Canadienne de Recherche sur la Formation en Ligne conducted pan-Canadian surveys of higher education institutions (2017-2019), collecting data on the digital education landscape and publishing annual reports of its results. Previous analyses of the data have used quantitative approaches. However, the surveys also collected responses to open-ended questions. In this study, we report a systematic analysis of qualitative data exploring the digital education landscape in Canada and its changes over time. Findings shed light on the growth of digital education, the situated and multidimensional nature of digital education, the adoption of openness, quality, and rigour, and the development of alternative credentials.

Author Biographies

Dr. George Veletsianos, Royal Roads University

Dr. George Veletsianos is Professor at Royal Roads University, where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology and the Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Flexible Learning at Royal Roads University. George’s research aims to understand and improve teaching, learning, access, equity, and participation in digital learning environments. His research interests center around learner and faculty experiences surrounding online learning, flexible learning, networked scholarship, and emerging technopedagogical practices.

Dr. Charlene A. VanLeeuwen, Royal Roads University, University of Prince Edward Island

Dr. Charlene A. VanLeeuwen was a postdoctoral researcher at Royal Roads University and is an instructor and coordinator of the Teaching and Learning Centre at the University of Prince Edward Island. Charlene has a background in qualitative interpretive research methods and employs a broad range of digital education technologies and approaches in her teaching practice. Her research interests revolve around digital learning, faculty development, community-based learning, and international development work in rural Kenya.


Olga Belikov, Royal Roads University

Olga Belikov is a doctoral candidate at Brigham Young University. She has a background as an instructional designer and educational researcher. Olga is also part of the research team at Royal Roads University which is exploring the nature of academics’ online participation over time. Her research interests include networked technologies, online participation, open education, open scholarship, and emerging learning technologies. 

Dr. Nicole Johnson, Royal Roads University, Canadian Digital Learning Research Association

Dr. Nicole Johnson is the Research Director of the Canadian Digital Learning Research Association and was the primary author for the 2019 and 2020 CDLRA National Reports. She is also part of this research team at Royal Roads University, which is exploring the nature of academics’ online participation over time. Nicole has a special interest in how and why people pursue learning opportunities (formal, non-formal, and informal) in digital environments to develop competencies.


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How to Cite

Veletsianos, D. G., VanLeeuwen, D. C. A., Belikov, O., & Johnson, D. N. (2021). An Analysis of Digital Education in Canada in 2017-2019 . The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 22(2), 102–117.



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