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North Island Distance Education School

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Distance Education in BC - Navigate History

From Distance Education to Distributed Learning in BC Navigate History

From distance education to distributed learning - delivering education since 1989

North Island Regional Correspondence School (NIRCS), the precursor to Navigate, opened in the Comox Valley in 1989 as a distance education provider.  We are proud to be one of the 9 original distance education schools in British Columbia.  Even then we embraced “blended learning” principles such as more closely integrating teachers and educational facilities into distance education and using new technologies to enhance home learning. 

Our early years saw a continual evolution as we adapted to the changing needs of our students and their families. We changed buildings several times, and we even changed our name to North Island Distance Education School (NIDES), with which several of our families are still most familiar. The biggest change, however, occurred in 2002, when the Ministry of Education granted full funding to distance learning providers, acknowledging its support for student-centered and teacher-directed education.

From that point on, both our student population and our faculty grew dramatically.  In 2004-05, we opened satellite schools in Nanaimo and Qualicum Beach, and soon thereafter began opening Independent Learning Centres in all three Comox Valley high schools. 

Our programming has evolved from offering simple distance education in BC to a rich slate of distributed learning options such as K-9 blended programs, high school courses, adult education, aboriginal and special needs programming and the largest selection of international language programs in the Pacific Northwest.

Though we’ve traditionally served distance learning students on mid and northern Vancouver Island, including the Comox Valley, Nanaimo, Campbell River, Parksville, Port Alberni and even Powell River, we now also serve students in Duncan, Victoria, Vancouver and other Lower Mainland communities, as well as throughout BC with all our courses, especially our international language programs. High school students across BC can now add greater flexibility to their school year calendar through cross enrollment.

In 2012, we finally shed the “NIDES” moniker in recognition of the fact that we now serve BC students throughout the province and around the globe. The name "Navigate" reflects our commitment to personalized learning, exploration and guiding our students on their lifelong educational journey. 

Did you know?  In 1919, British Columbia became the first Canadian province to sanction a provincial correspondence school when artist and educator John Kyle provided notes and textbooks to 86 children living in isolated areas. By 1929, more than 600 BC children were learning through correspondence.

(Read our blog post Distance Learning in BC)