Smart Education And Learning Market In Canada

Smart education trends in Canada is very interesting. Find out the current trends of smart education and smart learning in Canada. Furthermore, this reports also describe the challenges and opportunities of smart education along with future forecast

  • Definition / Scope
  • Market Overview
  • Market Risks
  • Top Market Opportunities
  • Market Drivers
  • Market Restraints
  • Industry Challenges
  • Technology Trends
  • Pricing Trends
  • Regulatory Trends
  • Other Key Market Trends
  • Market Size and Forecast
  • Market Outlook
  • Technology Roadmap
  • Distribution Chain Analysis
  • Competitive Landscape
  • Competitive Factors
  • Key Market Players
  • Strategic Conclusion
  • References
  • Appendix

Definition / Scope

Smart education is a term used to describe learning in the digital age. The objective of smart education is to encourage smart learners to meet the needs of work and life in the 21st century. The term “context-aware ubiquitous learning” is often used to describe a learning approach that employs mobile, wireless communication and sensing technologies to enable learners to interact with both real-world and digital-world objects. With smart learning, students are learning from the real world by using digital resources.

Smart education can be delivered in a virtual or physical setting. It could also be a blended version of both. Smart education can also be summarized as the use of smart devices to augment the learning outcome of old-style education. By using innovative learning methods such as online virtual classrooms, virtual learning environment, cloud servers, smart phones etc. a teacher can help students gain more out of their learning.

School, as well as college classrooms, are now slowly inching towards innovative education, which rules out the most conservative method. Devices including document cameras and projectors make it possible for schools and colleges to implement instructions in smart classrooms.

Market Overview

The distribution and use of educational technology systems and tools vary significantly from district-to-district and school-to-school, highlighting the degree of fragmentation in the availability and use of educational technology across Canada.

Although provincial ministries license software solutions such as Student Information Systems, Learning Management Systems, and Library Management Systems for use in their jurisdictions, it is up to the individual districts to select the purpose and degree of their use.

For instance, Ontario has licensed Brightspace by D2L as their provincial LMS. Some districts choose to deploy it primarily for online learning, while others inspire their schools and classroom teachers to use it more fully as a means to deliver and administer their courses. Within each district and school, teachers who are more educated and easy with the technology incorporate it into the delivery of instruction, while others who are not as comfortable use it to varying degrees.

It is expected that the use of technology to enhance instruction and learning will continue to increase as “digital natives” become teachers themselves and practicing teachers become more knowledgeable and confident in incorporating technology into their practice.

According to the Canadian Digital Learning Research Association from the 2018 national survey, the following findings were made:

Significant increase in the number of institutions offering Online courses between 2010 and 2011 (from 68% in 2010 to 76% in 2011), and then a more gradual increase between 2011 and 2016 (from 76% in 2011 to 79% in 2016). The increase from 2008 to 2016 is 14% or 2% per annum, but between2011-2016 only 3%.

  • Online course enrolments

According to the Canadian Digital Learning Research Center, in 2016-2017, 18% of all Canadian post-secondary students were taking at least one online course for credit, 19% in universities, and 21% in colleges outside Québec. In other words, one in every five students was taking an online course for Credit, except for the colleges and CEGEPs in Québec.

Of all credit course enrolments, about 8% were fully online, representing 1,357,000 online course registrations. If the online course enrolments are converted to full-time equivalents, this would be equal to about four universities of 27,500 each, four colleges of 10,000 each, and a Cégep of 3,500. The average course load for students taking online courses was between 3 to 4 online courses a year.

Overall course loads ranged from 7-8 courses a year in Universities to around 10 courses a year in colleges. There has been a steady growth in online enrolments between 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, with almost two thirds of institutions showing growth in online enrolments from last year, and less than a quarter showing a decline. The expectations for next year are even higher, with three-quarters reporting likely growth and only 3% expecting a decline in enrolments.

On the basis of the survey, it appears that online learning enrolments continue to grow at a significant rate. There are also a number of institutions with a high percentage of online activity:

  • Northern Lakes College, Alberta (58%).
  • BCIT, British Columbia (42%).
  • College Sainté-Anne, Nova Scotia (41%).
  • Yukon College, Yukon (37%).
  • Royal Roads, British Columbia (35 %).

Post-secondary institutions in Canada with a very high number of online course enrolments as can be seen in the following list:

  • Universitié Laval, Quebec (74,229).
  • The University of Waterloo, Ontario (43,572).
  • Concordia University, (32,401).
  • Algonquin College (29,600).
  • Fanshawe College (28.612).
  • Centennial College (22,528).
  • British Columbia Institute of Technology, (20,492)

The following are a few examples of provincial online learning initiatives in Canada.

  • LearnNowBC (LNBC): To support distributed learning across British Columbia, LNBC provides free online services for K–12 students, adult learners, educators, and parents through their web-based portal. Blackboard Collaborate, an online web conferencing platform, is licensed for use until June 2017.

LNBC services include:

    • An online learning environment where educators deliver synchronous instruction and assessment to learners;
    • An online meeting space for professional development where administrators and other educational leaders share and develop emerging pedagogies;

Access to district-subscribed digital resources;

  • Alberta Distance Learning Centre (ADLC) With campuses located in Barrhead, Edmonton, Calgary, and Lethbridge, the ALDC has a long, successful history as a leading distance education provider in Canada
  • e-Learning Ontario The Ontario Ministry of Education manages all distance education programs offered across the province. Although each school district manages enrolment, online courses are delivered by the province through eLearning Ontario. The LMS platform for delivering all courses is Brightspace by D2L
  • New Brunswick Distance Education In New Brunswick, secondary school online courses are locally developed and conform to the curriculum guidelines developed by the Program Development Department. Print textbooks are available to students taking online courses across the province. Instruction is delivered through Brightspace by D2L and the courses consist of lessons and assessments developed by teachers.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Distance Education The Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI) is responsible for developing and delivering senior high school distance education and online teacher professional development, as well as leading K–12 technology integration initiatives in the province. CDLI offers thirty-eight courses to students attending 103 schools, which are located in rural, remote, and isolated communities.
  • Blended/hybrid learning According to the Canadian Digital Learning Research Centre, in 2017-2018, out of the 165 institutions that provided information on the provision of blended/hybrid learning, 78% have introduced some form of blended/hybrid learning. This can be broken down as follows:
    • 87%: universities
    • 84%: colleges outside Québec
    • 58%: CEGEPs
    • 43%: private subsidized colleges in Québec

The 2018 data reinforce the conclusion from the 2017 survey that more than three quarters of Canadian institutions are now integrating online with classroom teaching, but no more than one in five have a significant number of courses in this format. In other words, blended/hybrid learning is wide but not yet deep.

  • Open educational resources, practices, and open textbooks A substantial number of Canadian post-secondary institutions (just over half) are using open textbooks and a further fifth are exploring their use. Universities and larger institutions are most likely to adopt open textbooks. The highest proportions of institutions using open textbooks were in British Columbia (90%) and Alberta (78%). Open textbooks are being used in all modes of delivery, but mostly in face-to-face Courses. A small but significant number of institutions are offering training to instructors in the use of OER.
  • Continuing education Continuing education is offered by the vast majority (93%) of institutions in each Sector and in every province and territory that responded. Continuing education is offered both for-credit and not-for-credit, and institutions take advantage of face-to-face, online and blended/hybrid delivery methods. Face-to-face, not-for-credit courses were the choice most selected by responding institutions (87%). Continuing education courses are offered by a majority of both Anglophone and Francophone responding institutions.
  • MOOCs (massive open online course) There is relatively little MOOC activity in Canadian institutions. According to Canadian digital learning research association:
    • 32 (18%) offered MOOCs in the previous year. Most of these offered between one to five MOOCs in the last 12 months
    • 66 (40%) were unsure of their future plans for MOOCs,
    • 58 (36%) indicated they have no interest in offering MOOCs in the future.
    • 13% were willing to support the increased use of MOOCs in the future,
    • 11% were leaving it to individual faculty to decide without necessarily providing institutional support.
  • Augmented reality/Virtual reality The nascent AR/VR market is projected to be worth $120 billion by 2020, displacing mobile as the leading computing platform. AR/VR investments have already hit $1.1 billion since the beginning of 2016.
  • Access to a Learning Management System If the school has access to an LMS for example, technology facilitates more aspects of learning. LMS tools such as discussion boards, blogs, announcements, ePortfolios, Dropbox, quizzes, and grade books allow for a higher degree of digital learning within the classroom setting. Teachers are able to more efficiently administer the course while students are able to access course content, communicate, complete and submit quizzes and assignments, and track their progress in a secure, online environment.

Market Risks

  • Security Risk: The biggest challenge for smart education is to cope with security risks. Cybersecurity is a major risk in smart education which can cause serious problems to the whole system. Sectors in Canada which reported the highest level of incidents included banking institutions (excluding investment banking) (47%), universities (46%) and pipeline transportation (45%). Businesses in these sectors were mostly impacted by incidents to steal money or demand ransom payments in 2017. Major security risks are:
    • Confidentiality violation: An unauthorized party gaining access to the assets present in the E-Learning system. In January 2017, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) took down a website hosting 3 billion personal records collected from major global data breaches. Although the RCMP located the servers hosting personal content in Canada, users from around the world could access the information for a small fee. In December 2017, the RCMP charged an individual alleged to have trafficked identity information.
    • Integrity Violation: An unauthorized party accessing and tampering with an asset used In the E-Learning system. For instance, in 2016, A Vancouver high school suffered network service degradation following a student successfully compromising teacher’s email account and began spamming out emails in bulks to a list of over 50,000 email addresses. This action of spamming slowed down the school’s network operation.
    • Denial of Service: Prevention of legitimate access rights by disrupting traffic during the Transaction among the users of the E-Learning system. The biggest DDoS attack to date took place in February of 2018. Attacker targeted GitHub, a popular online code management service used by millions of developers. At its peak, this attack saw incoming traffic at a rate of 1.3 terabytes per second (Tbps), sending packets at a rate of 126.9 million per second.
    • Malicious program: Lines of code to damage the other programs. In 2018, St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada was compelled to shut down its entire network due to Cryptojacking attack launched on its network for unauthorized mining of yet-to-be-identified cryptocurrency. The disabling of the school’s entire network effectively paralyzed all activities relating to its online course system, cloud storage, email services, debit transactions, and Wi-Fi.
    • Other security threats are Repudiation, Masquerade, Traffic analysis, Brute-force attack, and illegitimate use:
    • Content development/delivery Risk: Dynamic environment of smart education is also a risk factor for service providers. They need to cope with changing requirements of learners. Content should be developed by a skilled and experienced team and should be monitor regularly. Furthermore, the delivery of contents should be timely for effective learning process.
    • Natural Risk: Natural threats may be caused by natural disasters like fire, storm, volcanic eruption, earthquake, floods, etc. E-Learning system can be affected highly by those threats. Hardware, servers, and applications might be affected by natural disasters.
    • Unintended: There may be some unavoidable threats like Computer bug, power outage, handling error, etc.
    • Change Risk: In an E-Learning system, courses are classified into different modules. Due to the requirement of market demand one model (for example, the entire module of MCA has to be changed to MTech [Computer Science]) may be changed to another model. The new development team will have to face different problem to maintain and implement new ones unless all modules have been designed earlier
    • Participation/Involvement risk: Synchronous e-learning requires simultaneous participation of all learners and instructors at different locations. Studies show online students who feel dissatisfied and isolated in their course are more likely to drop out from the course.Online courses have a 10% to 20% higher failed retention rate than traditional classroom environments

Top Market Opportunities

  • Government support

Strong government for the smart education and e-learning system by the government. Government of all the province has economically and politically support to the smart education program. The government has encouraged online learning through targeted funding. For instance, several provinces have set up eCampuses to provide funding for online courses, open textbooks, and open educational resources, for faculty development opportunities, and for shared services, to encourage online learning

  • Technology Innovation

The number of different e-learning technologies available to support teaching and learning is growing exponential. New technologies like M-learning, 3D printing, virtual reality, Augmented reality, Chatbots, AI has provided the much-needed boost to smart learning in Canada.

  • Capital Influx/investments

Major investors are paying close attention to the developments in Canada EdTech and taking action. Key foreign players are coming into the market and funneling capital into the region to support Edtech.

In 2017, a total of $9,562,655,014.00 went to 813 learning technology companies across the planet. A total of $37.8 billion was invested in educational technology companies between 1997 and 2017, and a full 62% of that funding was in just the last three years between 2015 and 2017.

There was 18 investment deal made for learning technologies in 2017 in Canada which value 109 million US Dollar.

  • Opportunities for Tech Firm

Excellent opportunity for companies to develop their products in collaboration with users. The Canadian EdTech industry is one of the fasting growing sectors in Canada, valued at over 1 billion dollars annually. EdTech encompasses K-12 and postsecondary technology solutions, including hardware, software, cloud-based solutions, STEM products (3D printing, robotics), and digital learning content

Market Drivers

  • Increase in Acceptance of E-learning in Corporate & Academic Set-ups

Rise in acceptance of e-learning in corporate & academic set-ups, proactive government initiatives in the developing markets, and growth in number of mobile learning applications act as the major drivers of the market. However, security & privacy concerns and high cost of implementation are expected to hamper the market growth during the forecast period.

  • Globalization: student’s option for higher education is no longer constrained by national boundaries. The world’s student population truly has access to a ‘global market place’ of higher education.
  • An increase in demand for web-based and mobile-based learning platforms among corporate as well as Academics:

Institutes, including schools and universities, are expected to drive market growth during the forecast period. The adoption of e-learning software and tools provide several advantages such as reduced costs of traditional modules that are associated with education, more revenue per trained employee, increased productivity, and others, which in turn have increased its adoption among end users.

  • Low Cost: Online programs are cheaper when compared to the ones held in a traditional campus. The average tuition for online courses depends on multiple factors, so it varies from one program to another. Student wants to enroll in the Big Data Specialization program provided by University California, San Diego through Coursera, needs to pay $399 and also have an option to pay $49 per course. Financial Aid is available for learners who cannot afford this fee.
  • Easy accessibility: The advent of smart education has made learning more engaging and interesting. With the help of digital mediums, learners can start learning literally anytime and anywhere. Additionally, Canadian Universities and Online education providers have many disabled friendly online courses. for example, accessibility for Ontarian with disabilities act(AODA) outline the disability online education requirements which help universities and institutions to design and implement the online course.
  • Increased collaboration between hardware vendors and educational content providers: Improved collaboration between the hardware vendors and the educational content providers is driving the growth of the smart education and learning market. Recently, Moodle, the maker of the world’s most popular learning management system collaborated with Lingel Learning. As a Canadian Moodle Partner, Lingel Learning will continue to improve and create innovative solutions that help their clients get the most out of Moodle’s learning platform.
  • Proactive Government Initiatives in the Developing Markets to Promote E-learning: Numerous countries have taken proactive measures to increase the adoption of smart education and learning systems, which in turn is expected to provide lucrative opportunities for the market. For instance, the Canadian government actively promotes the use of e-textbooks, graphics, and other interactive smart content to enhance the learning experience, primarily in the K-12 segment.
  • Growth in Number of internet user and Mobile Learning Applications: In 2018, Canada had 35 million internet users. This figure will grow to 38.1 million internet users in 2023. Internet has enabled many forms of online learning through open educational resources and facilities such as e-learning and MOOCs in Canada. In 2018, there were 26.1 million mobile phone internet users in the country. This figure is projected to grow to 30.9 million by the end of 2023. The U.S. and Canada are anticipated to contribute remarkably toward the North American mobile application development platform market, owing to the presence of prominent players, such as Adobe Systems, Inc., IBM Corporation, and Salesforce Inc., and large scale investments in R&D by the leading players in the region.
  • The growth of lifelong learning: With the development of a knowledge-based economy, and with the amount of research and knowledge increasing rapidly each year, more and more people will need to go on learning new things well after they finish their full-time post-secondary education. A lot of this can be done informally (such as through the Danish adult education centers or MOOCs), but there has certainly been strong growth in North America in fully online professional masters programs, for instance. Such programs will become increasingly important given the need for continuous learning in a knowledge-based society.
  • Government policy :The government of Canada has been actively supporting smart education in Canada. All province are providing positive support for e-learning and smart education, For instance, The Ontario government is expanding broadband, to try to ensure all students have access to reliable and fast internet at school by 2021-22.
  • 21st-century skills: One other factor that is likely to increase pressure for more online or at least blended learning is the need to develop the skills that students will need in the 21st century, such as independent learning, IT skills embedded within a subject domain, and knowledge management. Online learning is particularly useful in not only helping students directly to develop such skills but also in providing opportunities for practicing and demonstrating such skills, though, for instance, e-portfolios.

Market Restraints

  • Lack of knowledge and expertise among end users Insufficient knowledge of end user is major obstacle of smart education. Online education/Distance education requires a sound knowledge of computer skills which is still lacking in some parts of Canada. Furthermore, user may need to use hardware devices like computer, laptops, smart boards to access the materials.
  • Remain with Traditional learning/Teaching Some schools and universities still following the traditional teaching style. Although smart learning approach has been adopting by a majority of schools and universities still it is not fully implemented. Specially universities and schools in far north part of Canada.
  • High cost for implementations The initial cost of smart education is very high. Resources like hardware, software, security, and other resources should be managed. Furthermore, Institutions may need/hire a technical person to support the system.
  • Support service lack of support services are major barriers to e-Leaning and can eliminate the motivation to learn through e-Learning. Institutions should provide technical training to learners and students to make them friendly with smart education and learning system.
  • Threat of Acceptance of online learning by employers Students are still hesitant to enroll due to concerns that future employers may not take their online educations as seriously as they would view more traditional programs. However, these old stigmas are fading fast and online education is now being accepted as readily as traditional formats.
  • Lack of clear regulations and Policies Some policies of Canadian a government are not effective .for instance 2017 and 2018 national surveys showed that government policies through earmarked funding for online learning – or negative policies such as cutting student aid for part-time students have a negative impact on the growth of online learning.

Industry Challenges

There are some challenges for the government of Canada to implement smart education and learning approach in schools and universities. Canadian Government and education authorities are still facing some major challenges that should be resolved soon. Some challenges are:

  • Inconsistency in the evaluation and licensing of free or open digital content In some provinces, there are no published policy guidelines regarding the evaluation and acquisition of digital-only content for instruction. Where policies do exist, they tend to be vague or holdovers from print acquisition protocols. Guidelines such as those used in the approval of resources for Ontario’s Trillium List may include criteria for evaluating curriculum-based materials that combine digital and print-based components.
  • The need for policy to ensure access to quality Canadian content The ubiquity of low cost, free, or open educational resources continues to negatively impact Canadian-owned publishing companies and their publishing programs. According to People for Education in their 2014 report entitled Digital Learning in Ontario Schools: The New Normal, “36% of elementary teachers and 25% of secondary teachers are more likely to use free online resources when they need new learning resources
  • Poor Internet service in some locations due to the geographical condition of Canada There is very poor Internet service in the far north of Canada. For instance, UCN’s Churchill campus has only 2 MBS per second connection at the moment – that is equivalent to the old dial-up modems of the past. In the far north, the only Internet connection for most communities is via satellite, which is very expensive, especially if a return uplink is used, as is really necessary for online
  • Limited opportunities to sell digital content via LMS into the post-secondary market Although LMS is used extensively throughout all post-secondary institutions, there is no marketplace for publishers to engage with the providers of the LMS software. Sporadic initiatives are in place to deploy content purchased or licensed from publishers through an institutional LMS and these are documented in the report.
    • Insufficient budget to maintain the equipment.
    • The technical support team is not enough.
    • Some teachers are not interested in using IT to teach.
    • Server problem and inconsistent internet service available.
    • Budget/funding dedicated to the purchase of digital content specifically
    • The price point of licensed digital resources
    • Teachers’ lack of confidence and knowledge relating to the use of technology for instruction

Technology Trends

The smart education market can be categorized by various modes and types. Students and organizations can adopt a suitable/compatible mode for education and learning purposes.

Basic Smart Education and Learning Mode:

  • Virtual Instructor-led Training
  • Simulation-based Learning
  • Social Learning
  • Blended Learning
  • Adaptive Learning
  • Collaborative Learning
  • Software – learning management systems, learning content management systems, adaptive learning platform, assessment systems, and others
  • Services – managed services, and professional services
  • Educational content – audio-based content, text content, and video-based content.

On the basis of user type

  • Academic – into K-12, and higher education
  • Corporate – small and medium businesses, and large enterprises

On the basis of product

Hardware – interactive whiteboards (IWB), interactive displays, interactive tables, and student response systems

Interactive Whiteboard (IWB)

An interactive whiteboard (IWB) is “a large interactive display in the form factor of a whiteboard. It can either be a standalone touchscreen computer used independently to perform tasks and operations, or a connectable apparatus used as a touchpad to control computers from a projector.”13 Two of the most popular IWB systems are SMART Board® and ActivBoard from Promethean. Digital content is projected onto the whiteboard screen and teachers and students interact with the content by collaborating, commenting, and manipulating it. Digital tools (i.e., digital pens and erasers) facilitate this interaction. Students use an interactive whiteboard for multiple purposes, such as exploring online maps and imagery, working with manipulatives or simulations, taking a virtual tour or field trip, or using it to present and share their work.

Tablets and Chromebooks

The tablet trend continues in much the same way as in the U.S. According to research by Media Technology Monitor, 26% of Canadians owned a tablet device in 2013. iPad continued to reign supreme over the Canadian tablet landscape, with almost two-thirds of Canadian tablet owners choosing to buy an iPad. West Vancouver Secondary School is phasing in mobile devices for its high school students, becoming the first school in the district to require iPads or similar tablet computers in the classroom.

The tablets will be requested for students in Grade 8 and 9 and encouraged for those in Grade 10, according to the school district when school starts in September. West Vancouver Secondary is the first of three high schools in the district that will require students to use mobile tablets this September. Sentinel High School is expected to announce its plan soon, followed by Rockridge Secondary. (Data from 4/14)

90 percent of students in the elementary schools already have a device and access technology in classrooms.

Although there are numerous laptops and tablets on the market today, two of the most popular devices deployed in K–12 are the Apple iPad and Google Chromebook. There are many ways in which these portable technology devices are used, including:

  • Individual or group learning and collaboration (i.e., instant messaging);
  • Games and simulations;
  • E-Portfolios (i.e., taking and uploading photos/videos);
  • Note-taking and highlighting;
  • Accessing digital content or virtual libraries; and
  • Doing homework, assignments, and projects.


In the classroom, E-Reader technology is often used to facilitate book clubs, novel study, independent reading, research, and reading programs by allowing students access to eBooks and other content. Typically, E-Reader technology offers features such as text-to-speech, adaptable font size, built-in dictionaries, and reference tools that can help students build vocabulary, develop phonemic awareness, add notes, and highlight passages of text while reading.

Assistive/Adaptive Technology

Assistive or adaptive technology tools make it possible for individual students with disabilities to access knowledge and information by adapting content into a medium that will best support them. The tools include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Personal Reading Machines that scan and read a passage of text out loud;
  • Speech or Voice Recognition that allows students to give voice commands to their computer;
  • Screen Readers that allow printed text to be converted into the oral text;
  • Video Description which provides narrative text to describe on-screen action in videos;
  • Large Print/Screen Magnification which provides the means to enlarge passages of text;
  • Closed Captioning or Transcription that provides the written text of the spoken words in a video or film. Transcribed text usually runs at the bottom of a video or film.

Mobile Learning

Mobile learning is enabled by BYOD programs, which allow students to use their own personal electronic devices (tablets, laptops, eReaders, smartphones, etc.) at school. These programs are proliferating in Canadian schools.

Pricing Trends

  • Cost of Online Education
    • In general, online learning is a more affordable option for students/learners. High-quality education is available at lower cost due to the lower overhead needed to operate these programs. Not only does tuition tend to be lower, but many additional expenses, such as transportation costs and course materials, are eliminated in an online program.
    • Fees for online learning vary based on whether the program is part of a college diploma, bachelor’s degree or at the graduate studies level. Costs can also vary depending on the institution and program.
    • Fees for students living outside Canada and for non-Canadian students living in Canada vary. For example, fees for a 3-credit undergraduate online course range from about $1,000 to $1,500. Sometimes these fees include all books. Fees for graduate courses are higher.
  • Cost of Hardware

The cost of the hardware depends on the size, quality, and brand. There is a high competition among the hardware providers so, consumers have many options. The cost of a new Smart Board will normally fall in the range of $1,500 to $6,500 depending on model and brand. The cost of laptops, e-readers, and other adaptive technologies also depends on the size, brands, and features.

Regulatory Trends

Canada ranks highly among the nations of the world in educational spending per capita, but does not have a national policy for, or governing body with jurisdiction over, education across the country.

Only the Indigenous and Northern Canada (2017) has responsibility for K-12 education across the country as it finances elementary and secondary education for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students and provides funding to post-secondary institutions for development of university-level courses for First Nation, Métis and Inuit students.

Canada is a confederation of 10 provinces and three territories that have responsibility for education. As such, each province and territory has a Ministry of Education that assumes the responsibility for the elementary, secondary and post-secondary education and develops the policies, standards

In Canada, there is no federal responsibility for education as in the United States (other than for Canadian First Nations communities), as such, policy and legislation varies across the country

0n 15 March 2019 the Government of Ontario announced the Education that Works for You – Modernizing Classrooms proposed policy.

Starting in 2020-21, the government will centralize the delivery of all e-learning courses to allow students greater access to programming and educational opportunities, no matter where they live in Ontario.

  • First nation’s merits and inputs

First Nations is a group of original inhabitants of the region of North America that is now Canada. In 2007, the Ontario Ministry of Education released the Ontario First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework.

  • Digital 7

Canada is a member of the Digital 7 (D7) nations. The D7 is comprised of Estonia, Israel, South Korea, New Zealand, the UK, Canada and Uruguay. By signing the D7 charter in February 2018, Canada joined the world’s most digitally advanced governments on a common mission to harness digital technology to improve the lives of citizens

Other Key Market Trends

  • Gamification

Gamification is the integration of game elements like point systems, leaderboards, badges, or other elements related to games into “conventional” learning activities in order to increase engagement and motivation. The major vendors of gamification in education software and services include D2L (Canada), Top Hat (Canada), Classcraft Studios (Canada)

  • Cloud-Based Systems

Cloud computing is becoming a popular IT tool for both business and personal use in Canada due to its productivity, security and economic advantages. Cloud computing offers IT applications, infrastructure, and services over a network that is, in many cases, owned and operated by a third-party service provider. Canadian schools and universities using cloud technologies because it reduces the hardware and other resources cost. Furthermore, it is secure than other web-based systems.

  • Big Data

Today, Big Data is everywhere—from social media to website analytics. When it comes to eLearning, it is the data produced while learners are taking eLearning courses. This is a real perk for both learners and developers in the realm of eLearning. The feature enables eLearning professionals to analyze how learners are digesting the modules and help them fine-tune their strategies in the right way.

  • Wearable Technologies

Wearable technologies like Virtual Reality (VR), Google Glass headsets, and smart-watches can also be used in order to create interactive training experiences. These technologies help to cut down on the number of scheduled training sessions, thereby somewhat reducing the training costs. Learners are also benefitted from instant support or help that they could receive from their supervisors or managers.

Market Size and Forecast

Total size of the market in 2018 was US $ 12.3 billion with a growth rate of 15% from 2017. Approximately 40 percent market share was occupied by LMS and other educational software. In 2016, there were 233,783 students enrolled in Canadian virtual schools.

That number is expected to exceed 460,000 by 2021, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.73%. Over 6% of the total K-12 population is enrolled in distance learning courses, and more than 70% of these students are enrolled in virtual schools.

  • More than two-thirds of all Canadian public universities and colleges offer online courses for credit, and almost all universities, and almost all 8 colleges outside Québec
  • In 2018, there were more than 1.3 million online course registrations, representing 8% of all course registrations roughly one in five Canadian students are taking at least one online course for credit in 2018
  • 74% of institutions expect online enrolments to increase in 2018-2019
  • Nearly all institutions use a learning management system and two-thirds use streamed video and/or live video lectures
  • 53% of institutions in Canada are using open textbooks
  • Just over two-thirds Canadian universities reported that online learning was very or extremely important for their strategic or academic plan
  • Just under a third were developing an e-learning plan
  • Nearly all institutions rated blended learning, and 87% of institutions rated online learning, as equal or superior to face-to-face teaching.

British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta are provinces with the greatest student enrolment in online courses. Enrolment is also higher in rural areas than in urban areas due to the limited access to education in those regions. Approximately 40% of rural secondary schools reported offering online courses to their students, compared with 35% of urban secondary schools.

Market Outlook

The global smart education & learning market was valued at $295 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach at $994 billion by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 22.7% from 2018 to 2024. Market size of smart education and learning market of Canada will be US $ 33.89 billion in 2024 with CAGR 18.4% (2019-2024).

The Americas accounted for the largest market share of the global smart education market in 2017, contributing approximately 39% share to the global market. The Americas are expected to witness consistent growth over the forecast period due to the increasing number of schools and higher education institutes adopting smart devices in modern classrooms for creating immersive learning environments for the students.

Although having a little over one-tenth the population of the US, the number of students enrolled in virtual education in Canada is not significantly lower than in the US.

Of the two countries, Canada makes up about 41% of the virtual schools market, with the US accounting for the other 59%. Canada’s CAGR over the next 5 years is also expected to be higher, estimated at 14.73% compared to the United States’ 11.43%.

Canada’s lower population density likely contributes to this — with a smaller number of people spread over a greater area, it can be challenging for students to gain access to all the courses they need in physical schools

Technology Roadmap

  • Smart city Roadmap
    • Partner with universities and colleges to share ideas and knowledge on City data and systems to encourage innovation and foster creativity
    • Promote Edmonton as a post-secondary city to encourage future investment and sector growth
    • Facilitate digital inclusion and literacy among all citizens
    • Collaborate with educational institutions to demonstrate the possibilities and prepare students for advancements in technologies and data analysis

In 2018, the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) launched an innovative tool to equip Canadians with in-demand digital skills needed to succeed in the global economy.

The Digital Literacy and Skills Roadmap will act as a guide for anyone seeking to build digital literacy through one of three featured pathways: Educational, Occupational and Personal.

The Canadian government has also developed the strategies and plan to implement the latest technologies to enhance Smart education and learning in Canada. Some of the technologies that will boost the smart education and learning market in Canada are: 

  • Use of 5G
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Mobile AR, Voice and Future Interfaces

Distribution Chain Analysis

Distribution of smart education depends on the nature and mode of the education. Software providers, contents providers, hardware providers, security providers, and support providers are main players of smart education system.

Following figure shows the supply chain players of smart education. Company like BOSCH and ABB provides the hardware device and equipment. EUROTECH, Cisco Inc., ARM are leading connectivity and enablement firms in Canada.AT & T and Telefonica have been providing network solutions for online and distance education.

Middleware platforms are very important in smart education industry and major player of supply chain. In Canada, company like Microsoft, TRIDIUM etc. are considered as one of the best middleware platforms. Value-added applications are an integral part of smart education supply chain. TYCO, Variant is serving as value added Service Company in Canada.

system integration and service delivery is major task of supply chain. This phase includes the packing and bundling, solution build up and service and delivery tasks. After integration and delivery, product and services is ready to use by end user.

Additionally, smart education service provider may provide may need to provide support and services to end user to make them competitive and friendly with the system.

Competitive Landscape

Currently, 455 accredited Online Schools are providing online/distance education in Canada. There is also good presence of international smart education and learning service providers in Canada therefore, Smart education market is highly fragmented and competitive. Domestic and international competition has been raised due to the entry of well-known International companies in the market and product/process innovation by the service providers.

Some major international smart education service providers are Litmos (Germany), Moodle (Australia), Schoology (USA), Edmodo (China), TalentLMS, WorkWier, e-Front, Tophat, Skyprep and Blackboard (USA).

  • Threat of New Entrants

Threat of new entrants is very high due to intense competition among Smart education providers in the domestic market. Well known smart education providers are also expanding their service in Canada market like Moodle (Australia), Edmodo (China), Canvas by Instructure (2018) etc which is creating high competition.

For Online education/distance education, physical presence in the market does not require therefore institutions from around the world can provide education to Canadian people although there are certain regulations that they have to follow.

  • Bargaining power of buyers

Buyers have the influence power for industry to force down prices and offer higher quality as consumer’s purchase represents a sizable proportion of organization’s overall sales.

The bargaining power of buyers is very high in smart education market in Canada because of the intense competition among the suppliers. Furthermore, switching an online course is not expensive and tedious which gives strong bargaining power to buyers/end users.

  • Bargaining power of supplier

Suppliers have the power of bear or apply in an industry by raising price or reducing the quality of products. The increase of supplier power is the mirror image of increase buyer power. There is a large number of suppliers in the market both domestic and international.

The bargaining power of buyers is low because of the intense competition and availability of choices in smart education market. Major smart education and learning service providers having high market share in Canada are D2L, Moodle, Blackboards, Docebo, Tophat etc.

  • Threat of substitute products or services

By having products or services that meet similar needs will make customers switch to substitutes in response to a price increase on the product. In Canada, there are multiple options for smart education and E-learning. For instance, mobile, internet, LMS, KMS etc. So, the threat of substitute products is moderate to high in Canada.

  • Intensity of rivalry among firms in an industry

When an organization exhibits a high level of rivalry, it will cause the industry’s profits to reduce because of aggressive competition on price as when rivalry cuts down on price, the other organizations will cut down the price to sustain in their market positions.

There is currently 455 online schools in the market directly providing the services. International service providers from USA,China,Australia,India etc are also expanding their products and services in Canada. Because of all these rivalries among the competitors is very high.

  • Market Fragmentation

Smart education and learning market is classified on the basis of learning mode, product type, verticals, and region. On the basis of learning mode, the smart education and learning market can be segmented into mobile learning, social learning, E-learning, simulation-based learning, and adaptive learning.

According to product type, smart education and learning market can be segmented into hardware, software, services, and educational contents. Hardware segment can be sub-segmented into display hardware and simulation-based hardware.

Software segment can be sub-segmented into mobile education application, test and assessment and ERP. Service segment can be sub-segmented into application service, portal service, and support service. Educational content segment can be sub-segmented into E-textbooks and audio and video-based courseware.

By verticals, smart education and learning market is segmented into the public sector, retail sector, health, and care sector and banking, finance, services, and insurance.

Competitive Factors

Following are the Factors that influence the competitive position of a company in the smart education and learning market in Canada:

  • Price

Price is a major competitive factor. Consumers are price sensitive and if institution provides service and product in less price that will attract the customers. For instance, strategy of Blackboard Inc is Creating economies of scale that make it less costly for organizations to develop and maintain content for which they used to rely on third parties.

  • Technical Support Service

Online learning requires more competencies (e.g. media literacy) and skills from learners and these need to be developed. Institutions that are offering good support service in Canada enjoying good market share because of positive perception and feedback from learners.

  • Innovations

Smart education and learning industry is very dynamic and competitive. Institutions require to innovate new products and services as per the learner’s need. Institutions that are expanding product lines using new technologies like AI, Cloud, and robotics education. For example, Moodle has used machine learning and interactive dashboard which has been attracting many learners.

  • Network speed/Internet

Quality Online and virtual education always depend on the speed of internet and network. Service providers, therefore, ensure integration/collaboration with good ISP providers to attract the learners.

  • Security

Security is a key concern in smart education. Service providers that use best practice security solutions always get competitive advantage. D2L-one of the popular LMS provider in Canada use layered approach to protecting its network infrastructure and resources.they have implemented various security mechanism to stay competitive in the market. Major learners using D2L LMS because of D2L security mechanism.

  • Collaboration with vendors/suppliers

Building strategic relationships with key vendors can deliver competitive advantage. Smart education provider considers time devoted to collaboration as an investment for the future which will give them competitive advantage.

Key Market Players

There are many domestic and international players providing smart education solutions in Canada. Following are the major service providers:


D2L, the creator of Brightspace LMS, is a cloud-based learning solution for testing, tracking, reporting, gamification, API and web conferencing. Analyzes and report the performance of the student. It can store, organize, and share the content across the institution. Works on the premium model. Earlier known as Desire2Learn, an educational technology company with corporate headquarters in Kitchener, Ontario.

  • Founded: 1999
  • Location: Kitchener (Canada)
  • Total Funding: USD 165M
  • Investors: Columbus Nova Technology Partners, Graham Holdings Co, Four Rivers Group and 5 Other Investors


Blackboard is an online education platform that helps students to collaborate on assignments and communicate with teachers. Blackboard’s headquarters is in Washington, District of Columbia. Blackboard has a revenue of $694.5M, and 3,151 employees. Blackboard has raised a total of $140M in funding. Blackboard’s main competitors are Moodle, Jenzabar, and Intevista. As of April 2019, Blackboard has 14.2K fans on Facebook and 37.5K followers on Twitter.

Absorb LMS

Absorb LMS is a web-based learning management solution for businesses of all sizes. Its capabilities include course development, content management, productivity, and others. Core content administration capabilities offered by the software include authentication, administrative reporting, course authoring, defined user roles, registration management, and support for unlimited users.

Blatant Media is the author of Absorb Anywhere LMS, the Learning Management System of choice for companies like Adobe, Rolls Royce, Oakley, New York University, EFI, and NASM. Absorb has recently won two Brandon Hall excellence in e-learning awards (Gold and Bronze) for new technological development for small to medium businesses and external training.

  • Founded: 2003
  • Location: Calgary (Canada)
  • Total Funding: USD 59M
  • Investors: Silversmith Capital Partners


TopHat provides classroom engagement and content management solutions for educational institutes. Its offering includes Lecture – an audience response system enabling teachers to capture student responses in real-time, conduct student poll and spot-quizzes, track attendance, and more; Interactive Text – repository of multimedia content including chapters, videos, questions, illustrations, and more for educators to create customized courses; and Content Marketplace – marketplace for subject-based content modules.

  • Founded: 2009
  • Location: Toronto (Canada)
  • Total Funding: USD 54M
  • Investors: Leaders Fund, Union Square Ventures, Emergence Capital and 10 Other Investors


Instructure is a web-based learning management platform that provides employee development solutions for enterprises. Instructure is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dan Goldsmith is the CEO of Instructure.

Instructure’s IPO generated $70.4M. Instructure’s main competitors are Edmodo, Schoology, and Moodle. As of April 2019, Instructure has 5.4K fans on Facebook and 4.0K followers on Twitter

Cornerstone OnDemand

Cornerstone OnDemand provides recruitment, training, management and collaboration solutions for all business sizes. Cornerstone OnDemand is an NGO/NPO/NFP/Organization/Association company.

Adam Miller is the President & CEO of Cornerstone OnDemand and has an approval rating of 65 from Owler members. Cornerstone OnDemand’s top competitor is D2L, led by John Baker, who is their President & CEO. Cornerstone OnDemand has 1,101 followers on Owler.


Skillsoft operates as a Software as a Service provider of on-demand e-learning and performance support solutions for enterprises and government. Skillsoft’s headquarters is in Clonskeagh, County Dublin. Skillsoft has been a Subsidiary of Charterhouse Capital Partners, LLP since Mar 2014.

Skillsoft has received a total of $150M in funding. Skillsoft has acquired 2 companies, with the most recent being Vodeclic SAS for an undisclosed amount in May 2015. As of April 2019, Skillsoft has 9.4K fans on Facebook and 8.9K followers on Twitter.


Axonify is a software company providing corporate learning solutions. The company enables its customers to build, sustain and share employee knowledge. Axonify learning model is a combination of brain science, adaptive learning technology, and gamification. The company’s analytics provide intelligence that gives direct and specific insight into each employee’s level of knowledge and measure learning effectiveness.

  • Founded: 2011
  • Location: Waterloo (Canada)
  • Total Funding: USD 27M
  • Investors: JMI Management, BDC, MaRS and 3 Other Investors 

Strategic Conclusion

Smart education and learning is very crucial for the development of Canada. Online Learning, blended and hybrid learning is not only a small but important part of Canadian education, but they are likely to continue to expand and grow.

In particular, most institutions recognize that smart learning is critical for their future, and have ensured that it is of generally high quality.

More importantly, the use of technology is shifting the way on-campus teaching is being designed and delivered. It is increasingly important for the future to talk about digital technology than just fully online (or distance) learning.

The challenge for institutions is to make sure they are properly prepared for these developments and especially for the impact of scaling up online and digital learning activities. There is clear evidence that online learning requires:

  • Changes in pedagogy as well as the adoption of new technologies.
  • As a result, faculty and instructors need more training and support.
  • Institutions need to plan more thoroughly and consistently for these changes.

Further Reading



  • LMS-Learning management system
  • BCIT-British Columbia Institute of Technology
  • OER-Open Education Resource
  • MOOCs-Massive Open Online Course
  • AR-Augmented Reality
  • VR-Virtual Reality
  • AI-Artificial Intelligence
  • IWB-Interactive White Board
  • U.S-United Kingdom
  • CAGR-Compound Annual Growth Rate

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