Thursday, February 7, 2019

Athabasca Review Should Be Open Online Everywhere

Tom Worthington in academic regalia with his Master of Education in Distance Education, awarded by Athabasca University (Canada), 18 January 2017
As an alumnus of Athabasca University (AU), I recently received an invitation to participate in a "Master of Education Program Review Process". Unfortunately to do this I either have to travel to Edmonton (13,000 km, 20 hours flying time, at a cost of AU$1,800), or attend a teleconference at 4:15 am Canberra time. Neither of these is convenient.

So I replied, pointing out that when a distance education student at AU, we were routinely offered two times for live online activities. One time was for North America, and the other for the rest of the world. Also there were downloadable documents, recordings, and asynchronous forums provided, for those who missed the live sessions.

The reply I got from the Office of Institutional Studies at Athabasca University was "Unfortunately we don't have an alternate timeslot available for this review".

AU prides itself on being "Open. Online. Everywhere.". I suggest this review process also needs to be.

AU runs an excellent online MEd program. AU's Office of Institutional Studies is placing the reputation of that program, and the whole university, at risk, by not appearing to understand the fundamentals of running an online university.

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