Centre for Distance Education

News and Announcements

Research Assistant Position for Doctoral Students

June 17, 2019

Doctoral students: Are you looking to build your research and project development skills over the summer? The Heutagogical Bridge: Linking Blended and Online Design to Technology-Enabled Lifelong Learning project is a collaboration between scholars at Athabasca University, the University of Calgary and the University of Sherbrooke. The start date for this project is July 1, 2019, and the team will collaborate in a virtual meeting space. This research appointment will span from July 2019 to March 2020, and will consist of 100 part-time hours (flexible weekly schedule).

This study will explore the possibility that, under certain pedagogical conditions, blended and online learning will contribute to the competence and confidence required for technology-enabled lifelong learning. We propose that, given the dynamic, globally connected, socially and economically complex society Canada is and will continue to become, technology-enabled lifelong learning will support citizens in becoming innovative and resilient persons. We also believe that pedagogical experiences available in blended and online learning may transfer, with appropriate mentoring and support, to technology-enabled lifelong learning following engagement in structured and supported formal education programs. It is possible that heutagogical practices available in blended and online learning will transfer to and support technology-enabled lifelong learning.

Each Research Assistant (RA) may engage in the following scholarly activities:

  • Meet and work with scholars and other RAs as part of the Bridges Research Group.
  • Engage in content analysis of research articles according to designed criteria leading to a meta-analysis of research articles in the field.
  • Identify, discuss, and document key insights from meta-analysis of research publications.
  • Integrate multiple data sets from various developed matrices.
  • Apply for Research Ethics Approval.
  • Assist in the creation and execution of a Delphi taxonomy of questions for expert review of our insights and premises identified in the literature.
  • Collect and analyze data from Delphi study.
  • Use deliberative dialogue technique to jointly conceptualize significant information and insights.
  • Assist in academic report writing.
  • Participate in conference proposal, presentation, and paper creation.
  • Assist in the dissemination of findings and other research grant proposal, if needed.
  • Identify and document components unique to successful MOOCs as an online delivery form.

The successful candidates will be required to work with a total of 100 hours each with varying intensity from the months of July, 2019 to March, 2020. Please note that the number of hours worked will likely vary from week to week. The hourly rate of pay as set by Athabasca University policy is approximately $23.00 per hour.

Priority will be given to Doctoral level graduate students. The following competencies are desired: 

  • Familiarity or experience with meta-analyses and/or Delphi Model research 
  • Competency with the implementation of qualitative and quantitative research methods 
  • Ability to accurately and succinctly summarize and report back on research activity & results
  • Apply for Research Ethics Approval
  • Ability to coordinate and conduct in-depth interviews 
  • Ability to coordinate and conduct analysis of research data 
  • Organization, project planning skills, preparing documents, and report writing 
  • Ability to work collaboratively with diverse team members
  • Ability to work independently to meet deadlines
Resumes and cover letters will be accepted until June 30, 2019 and may be submitted via email to martic@athabascau.ca. Responses will be sent to acknowledge receipt after this date. Telephone/Skype interviews will be held the first week of July. Contact Dr. M. Cleveland-Innes for more information, by phone at 1-800-788-9041, ext. 6426 or via email to the address noted above.


Governor General Medal Award Recipient shares distance learning experience during Convocation

 June 10, 2019

Congratulations to Norine Wark on receiving the Governor General Gold Medal Award! During Athabasca University's 2019 Convocation Ceremonies held in Westerner Park on June 7-8th, Wark shared her inspirational story and experiences with distance learning to students, staff and faculty. In recognition of her work, we have published Wark's Convocation address:

"Hello, everyone. It is an honour to be with you on this momentous occasion!

Each graduate here today has a remarkable story to share. In my case, it has been a privilege to earn much of my education through various distance means, which I believe has given me a fairly unique perspective on learning. Distance learning began in grade 1, when my family lived in a remote, isolated part of northwestern Canada. The world came to me in large manila envelopes through our family’s post office box located over 300 km away. My father delivered those precious packages to us every two or three months when the rivers were either low enough or frozen enough to cross. By the light of kerosene lamp, the heat of wood stove, and the occasional sound of howling wolves, I discovered escalators, elevators, jet planes, life in the Sahara desert…and marveled over the wondrous world beyond our wilderness home.

Correspondence allowed me to graduate from a tiny high school with the academic qualifications required for university entrance. Alone and penniless with three children under the age of five in an obscure northern village, I began correspondence courses and night classes, working diligently to maintain scholarship status while doing accounting and sewing to keep us going. Much of this 5-year Bachelor of Education degree was earned via print, audiovisual, television, and teleconferencing technologies. Somehow I managed to graduate from Simon Fraser University with the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence.

Throughout these years most people criticized my academic pursuits. Many who had never taken an academic distance education course mocked my learning. Some declared that my education “came from a cracker-jack box.” Yet I personally found my face-to-face university experiences to be wanting. Distance education packages were well-designed, content-rich and, for the most part, enabled self-pacing. There was time to investigate, to reflect, to imagine, and to explore outside the box. I had to work much harder in the distance courses. I believe that learning at a distance molded me into an insatiable, self-determined learner.

As the years unfolded in my public school teaching career, I developed certain beliefs about learning, but never had the opportunity or training to conduct academic research. Eventually I rose to the rank of master teacher, whereupon I recognized that the ability to share our face-to-face experiences and hard copy resources was limited politically, geographically, and technologically. I pined for the freedom of distance learning.

I was unsuccessful in finding a graduate level distance or summer program that our provincial ministry would recognize. In the mid-1990s I bought a MacLean’s magazine with an article on Canadian universities, which reported a high international ranking for the fledgling Athabasca University. Much to my delight, when I asked our Teacher’s Qualification Services about the Masters program at AU, they said that they would accept the whole degree!

The AU Master’s program allowed me to work, raise a family, continue volunteer services, stay in my community, and graduate debt-free. I set personal learning goals for each course, which instructors graciously supported. For example, during one course I decided to learn html scripting, so I created a website instead of writing an essay. Best of all, I quickly bonded with students and professors who shared my passion for exploring emergent pedagogies and technologies. My desire to develop research skills was realized as we worked together on numerous projects. Our work in academic, peer-reviewed journals enabled me to join the global world of learning.

I worked with students who were bed-ridden, in hospitals, incarcerated, forced to stay home to raise babies, or who had other physical, mental, emotional, or social challenges that prevented them from attending regular face-to-face classes. Thanks to the AU Masters degree these students, other teachers, and I had 24-7 access to personalized online courses and programs that I designed.

Engaging in the AU Ed Doctoral program furthered opportunities that the Master’s degree afforded. My doctoral goals were to enhance research, publication, and presentation skills while continuing to explore beliefs about learning and emerging technologies that empower learners. To date, I have been involved in 14 research projects, producing 30 international presentations and publications, two of which have won best paper awards. Moreover, I have been honoured to connect with faculty, students, and staff in many disciplines at AU and across the globe through these research projects. Most of all, I feel deeply privileged to share what I have learned about the AU graduate programs, conducting research, and funding opportunities, as well as offering whatever other support possible to fellow students during our educational journeys.

AU is home to me; faculty, staff, administrators, and fellow students have made this so. I have never felt held back, boxed in, unheard, unknown, or lost at AU. I am proud of our university and of our distance education, for I know that both are of highest quality. We have all worked hard and made sacrifices, as have our friends, families, and others who have supported us along the way.

As we cross this finish line, I would like to leave you with these final words. It is the novice standing on the edge of a discipline who makes the most significant contributions to that discipline. The novice has yet to be indoctrinated with the mores, beliefs, and habits of that discipline. To them, all things are possible. Reflect on Einstein’s greatest innovations or consider the growing reliance upon crowd-sourcing today. We are on the precipice of the 4th Industrial Revolution; singularity is near. As traditional education crumbles, our youthful institution continues to evolve by, for example, offering the first North American online Masters and Doctoral degrees in DE. As we head out into the world, know that we have learned from the best, the most innovative; we are uniquely prepared to change the world.

Before we embrace tomorrow's challenges, though, let’s pause to smell the roses, to celebrate our achievements with each other and those who supported and encouraged us. If you have a moment to chat, I'd love to hear your story! Thank you and congratulations to all!"    

- Norine Wark (published with permission)


Dr. Marti Cleveland-Innes receives CNIE Leadership Award 2019

June 10, 2019

Professor Marti Cleveland-Innes received the remarkable honour as the recipient of the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education 2019 Leadership Award. Each year, the CNIE Leadership Award recognizes an individual with outstanding service to the field of technology or media in education or distance education. Dr. Cleveland-Innes has been working with Athabasca University for over 18 years in the field of distance learning, learner-centred curriculum design, instructional design and leadership. Congratulations Marti!


CDE Events

Important Dates 

July 1, 2019 - Canada Day - University Closed

July 26, 2019 - Spring Courses End

August 5, 2019 - Civic Holiday & Heritage Day - University Closed

September 1, 2019 - EdD Program Payment Deadline

Featured Courses

MDDE 690: Investigating MOOCs: Purpose, Process, and Pedagogy (Fall 2019)

This is an independent study opportunity for students interested in a supervised study and practice experience of MOOCs (Massive Open, Online Courses), and their design, delivery, and research. The AU-MOOCs Learning to Learn Online (LTLO) or Technology-Enabled Learning (TELMOOC) are the focus of this study experience. See www.ltlo.ca and www.telmooc.org for more information. Students in this version of MDDE 690 will create, in consultation with instructors, a 3-credit course with learning objectives based on the topic of MOOCs. This independent study course experience will commence in September 2019 and includes participation in TEL MOOC, which runs from September 22 – October 26, 2019. Timelines for completion of other assignments are negotiable. The MOOC design for LTLO and TELMOOC is inquiry-based and is called an iMOOC, which involves inquiry-based learning and engagement. You will have the opportunity to identify your own topics, activities, and assignments that will result in knowledge development about MOOCs and their purpose, process, and pedagogy. 

Instructors: Dr. M. Cleveland-Innes, Dr. Nathaniel Ostashewski and/or Dan Wilton

To Register: Contact Leanne Jewell or call 1-800-788-9041 (ext. 6130)


Popular MOOC: Learning to Learn Online (Spring 2019)

Interested in online education and developing your own personal strategies for online learning success? Developed and led by our own faculty, this free massive open online course (MOOC) will guide you through an interactive investigation and self-reflection process to help you determine your learning preferences and create your own personal strategy for successful online learning. We will address common misconceptions, frustrations, and fears about online learning and introduce techniques to help you overcome such obstacles. Various models of online courses will be explored, as well as the concept of a personal learning space.

Next course runs from April 29 to June 2, 2019. For more information or to register, visit http://www.ltlo.ca

Teacher Professional Learning

Blended and Online Learning and Teaching BOLT

Athabasca University, Canada’s leader in online post-secondary education, through the Centre for Distance Education (CDE) and the Alberta Distance Learning Centre (ADLC), the premier distance learning partner for primary and secondary education in Alberta, are excited to present an innovative module offering for the professional development of practicing teachers.

Nine - four week modules are the equivalent to the study of three graduate courses, and each of the nine modules is tailored to allow completion within a four week period. BOLT participants gain professional knowledge, building on and extending the art and craft of teaching in the digital world.

Updated June 18 2019 by CDE