Out of the 30 credits needed for a High School diploma, students will be required to get four from e-learning courses starting in the 2020-21 school year.

Minister of Education Stephen Lecce has announced plans to increase student access to high-quality public education and work to turn Ontario into a “global leader” of modern and digital education. “Before the launch of the new online learning program, the province will be consulting with Ontarians to ensure our approach to online learning will meet the needs of students and educators,” the provincial government says in a press release.

The government explains that students will be required to take two online credits to graduate from secondary school starting next year. “Students that graduate in the 2023-2024 school year will be the first cohort that are required to complete online courses,” the provincial government explains. “Online courses can begin counting toward students’ graduation requirements beginning in September 2020.”

The government points out that e-learning has been used by some high school students to earn credits since 2004. CBC reported in April that, on average, five-percent of students per high school are currently enrolled in online courses. The provincial government notes that there’s been a 17-percent increase in online course enrollment year-over-year since 2011. CBC added in their report that some students were having trouble learning so independently.

Lecce says the world is changing rapidly and students need to have the ability to learn and thrive in a world dominated by technology. “To succeed in this environment, it is important students graduate with the skills and technological fluency they need in a competitive global labour market,” he says. “This plan will provide more course offerings – including S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) courses – that will benefit students well beyond the classroom.”

The government says that by expanding access to high-quality, teacher-supported online learning students will have access to a wider variety of courses, no matter where they live or go to school. They say students will also be able to learn about topics that interest them “through modular course designs or standalone mini-modules in topics like financial literacy and coding.”

“Employers are looking for people who understand the importance of technology and can use it in ways that will help their businesses thrive in a competitive, globally-connected economy,” the government says. They say that e-learning is one important way that students can develop these skills that will help them once they graduate.