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Athabasca University


MDDE 601: Introduction to Distance Education and Training

Delivery mode: Grouped study using Moodle

Credits: 3 - Core course

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Brad Eastman


This first core course in Athabasca University's Master of Education in Distance Education program is required for all program students. It provides students with an overview of current forms of distance education and explores a variety of applications, including distance education in post-secondary institutions, K-12 schools, and in workplace and training environments. Research and theory development are addressed. The course also examines distance education technology, online teaching and learning, as well as learner support and the management and administration of distance education programs.

In addition to the study of distance education, the course also involves practical skill-building activities to help you become a more effective graduate student and distance learner. Towards this end, the course will promote skills in scholarly writing, library research, and reflective practice, as well as in the use of a variety of web-based tools and resources.


Course Goals

The goals of the course are to provide you with the following:

  1. a foundation of knowledge, skills and attitudes that will prepare you for further studies and enable you to become competent academics and practitioners of distance education;

  2. an introduction to a wide range of literature in the field;

  3. a critical approach towards the theory and practice in the field of distance education and online learning; and

  4. the means to integrate prior knowledge and skills with the newly acquired knowledge and skills developed in the course.


Course Outline

The course is divided into six units.

Unit 1 Foundations of Distance Education

Unit 2 Research and Evaluation in Distance Education

Unit 3 Distance Education Technology

Unit 4 Teaching and Learning at a Distance

Unit 5 Learner Support

Unit 6 Management of Distance Education


Course Materials

Online Study Guide


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S. E., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education. (6th ed.). New York: Information Age Publishers. (eText)

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

Selections from the online textbook: Anderson, T. (Ed.). (2008). The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed.). Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University Press.


Student Assessment

Your grade will be based on three assignments and your participation in the course.

Assignment 1: Students will complete a critical review of a selected article.
Assignment 2: Students will work in groups and develop a presentation based on their critical review of a selected article.
Assignment 3: Students will write a paper for a proposed new distance education organization and discuss various aspects of its design.
Course Participation: Students are expected to participate in the course forums.


Get Started Early

Early access to the Moodle Learning Management System begins a few days before the official start date of your course. At that time you will have limited access to the course. On the Official Start Date of the course, instructors will be available and the discussion forums will become active.



Last updated by MM October 12, 2016

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