Last month, the Ontario government launched eCampus Ontario: an online repository of courses and learning resources for both students and instructors.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, eCampus Ontario — formally named Ontario Online — will provide students with a more accessible, flexible, and user-friendly post-secondary education experience.

Students will be able to search through a catalogue of over 13,000 courses offered online to university and college students in Ontario, 277 of which are new and redesigned. In addition, information on participating institutions is available, although students must seek their permission of their home institution before enrolling in a course.

The Ontario government has increased its funding from $42 million over three years to $72 million over five years since the announcement of the portal in 2014.

“Our government understands that the role of technology is increasing inside and outside the classroom, influencing both how courses are taught and how our students are learning,” said Tanya Blazina, spokesperson for the ministry.

The University of Toronto currently offers 21 undergraduate courses online, but not all are found on eCampus Ontario.

“The courses that you will find there, there are nine courses that we have put on the portal, those are ones that have been developed through funding from the Ontario government,” said Susan McCahan, vice-provost of innovations in undergraduate education at U of T. “As far as that funding opportunity, we are obligated to make them known on that portal and put the information up on the portal.”

McCahan added that U of T is remaining cautious as eCampus Ontario grows and develops, since U of T was initially hesitant when the portal was announced.

“We know other schools have put up many more courses so we will start to see what kinds of flows result. If there is a significant number of students who are using that as a means of finding transfer credits to transfer back to their home institutions, then we may consider increasing the number of courses on there, but for right now we don’t see the benefit for our own students.”

eCampus Ontario is currently working with students, faculty and institutions to plan its future, which may include a streamlined registration process.

“The portal will continue to be updated and enhanced to improve functionality including more extensive course and program information, greater personalization and expanded student services,” said Blazina.

If their proposals are accepted in January, U of T may receive additional funding to develop courses from the Ontario government through the Shared Online Course Fund.

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