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Athabasca University

Regulations effective for students admitted to the MEd program starting September 1, 2015 or later. (Previous regulations can be found here.) Students previously admitted to the program may apply to the Program Director for consideration to use these current regulations for their program.

Master of Education in Distance Education Program Structure

Thirty-three credits are required to complete the MEd program. These credits can be earned in one of two ways.

  1. Thesis Route: The curriculum requirement for the thesis route consists of five core courses, two elective courses, and 12 credits of thesis work. Normally, students will register in thesis credit after completion of the core courses.

    For those individuals pursuing the thesis route, a thesis (12 credits) provides an opportunity for investigating a novel question or synthesizing/applying what has been learned in the course work. Students must register in MDDE 701, MDDE 702, MDDE 703, and MDDE 704, as they proceed to complete the thesis requirements.

  2. Course-based Route: The curriculum requirement for the course-based route consists of five core courses, five elective courses and MDDE 694 – Capstone e-Portfolio Project.

Students pursuing the course-based route are required to complete a 3-credit caspstone e-portfolio project as their final course, providing an opportunity to develop a high quality, comprehensive e-portfolio and to conduct an oral defense of that product. Students must register in MDDE 694 once they have completed all their core and elective courses, or are currently completing their final course.

Students can also choose to pursue focus areas for either the thesis or course-based routes in: Instructional Design, Leadership in Education, Mobile Learning, and K-12 Blended and Online Learning.

Program Status

To maintain program status, students must complete 6 credits of course or thesis work during each academic year (September 1 to August 31). In core courses, the lowest acceptable grade is B-. Students who receive a grade lower than B-, or receive more than one grade of B- or lower, may be required to withdraw from the program.

In elective courses, the lowest acceptable grade is C+. Students who receive a grade lower than C+, or receive more than one grade of C+ or lower, may be required to withdraw from the program.

Residency

To meet the residency requirements:

  1. for the Thesis Route, students must complete a minimum of three courses (nine credits) from the core curriculum and complete the thesis through Athabasca University.
  2. for the Course-based Route, students must complete a minimum of three courses (nine credits) from the core curriculum, a minimum of four elective courses (12 credits) through Athabasca University, and pass the e-portfolio and oral defense at the conclusion of the course work.

Courses

Courses are designed to encourage self-study either at home or in the workplace. Students will be supplied with a basic course package of print and other media, if required, and access to a course website for each course. Students are also expected to use computer mediated communications for the following purposes:

  • instructor and student-to-student interactions in computer conferences;
  • e-mail, both within and outside of the course structure;
  • file transfer or file attachment of assignments and feedback between instructor and students and between students on joint projects; and
  • accessing electronic databases (for example, Athabasca University's Library).

REQUIRED CORE COURSES

The core curriculum is an integrated arrangement of courses covering the field of distance education and training. The five core courses (15 credits) review current knowledge, theory, and practice in distance education and training. For all program students, MDDE 601 and MDDE 602 must be taken before any other program courses, either concurrently or consecutively. Students must also take MDDE 603, either MDDE 604 or MDDE 605, and either MDDE 610 or MDDE 620 to complete their core course requirements. The courses not chosen to meet the core course requirements can be used to meet the elective requirements.

The core courses provide students with the skills and knowledge that will facilitate their understanding and ability to analyze, synthesize, evaluate, create, and implement distance education and training courses, programs, and systems. Core courses in the MEd are offered three times a year.

Required Core Courses

MDDE 601 Introduction to Distance Education and Training (3)
MDDE 602 Research Methods in Distance Education (3)
MDDE 603 Foundations of Instructional Design: Systems Analysis and Learning Theory (3)
MDDE 604 Instructional Design in Distance Education  
  or  
MDDE 605 Planning and Management in Distance Education and Training (3)
MDDE 610 Survey of Current Educational Technology Applications  
  or  
MDDE 620 Technology in Education and Training (3)

ELECTIVE COURSES

MDDE 610 Survey of Current Educational Technology Applications * (3)
MDDE 611 Foundations of Adult Education (3)
MDDE 612 Experiential Learning (3)
MDDE 613 Adult Education and Lifelong Learning (3)
MDDE 614 International Issues in Open and Distance Learning (3)
MDDE 615 Human Factors in Educational Technology  (3)
MDDE 617 Program Evaluation in Distance Education (3)
MDDE 618 Instructional Project Management (3)
MDDE 619 Trends and Issues in Instructional Design (3)
MDDE 620 Technology in Education and Training * (3)
MDDE 621 Online Teaching in Distance Education and Training  (3)
MDDE 622 Openness in Education (3)
MDDE 623 Introduction to Mobile Learning (3)
MDDE 630 Trends and Issues in K-12 Online and Blended Learning (3)
MDDE 631 Inclusive Leadership and Practice in Education (3)
MDDE 632 Leadership in Education Innovation
(3)
MDDE 650 Tutoring and Student Support in Distance Education and Training (3)
MDDE 651 Gender Issues in Distance Education (3)
MDDE 660 Professional Seminar (3)
MDDE 661 Seminar Topics in Educational Conferencing  (3)
MDDE 662 Seminar Topics in Evaluating Conferencing Software  (3)
MDDE 663 Emerging Issues on Distance Education Technology  (3)
MDDE 664 New Perspectives in International Distance Education  (3)
MDDE 665 Collaboration and Mentoring in Educational Environments (3)
MDDE 690-691 Independent Study (3)

* Elective courses listed above with an asterisk may be used to fulfill the technology core course requirement.

Elective courses are designed to complement the core curriculum and expand basic knowledge, theory, and practice into areas and issues of individual interest or concern. These courses allow students to specialize in particular topics or learn new sets of skills necessary for research and practice in distance education and training. Some elective courses may not be available every year and a growing list of electives will emerge as student and faculty interests change and develop.

Normally, elective courses may be taken concurrently with core courses. Students may obtain advanced credit for an elective course and may be encouraged to take an elective course from other institutions. Permission of the program director is required before courses are taken for MEd program credit outside Athabasca University. Students may also be encouraged to work on subject-matter areas or skills with individual faculty members as a way to fulfill elective requirements. To facilitate this involvement with faculty, students may register in MDDE 690 Independent Study in three-credit blocks (equivalent to a three-credit course). Normally, no more than six credits may be earned as individualized study.

Focus Areas

Students are strongly advised to contact the CDE office for assistance and for advice on planning their studies. To qualify for a focus area, students must complete all core and prescribed electives for either the course-based or thesis routes, as well as declare their selection with the MEd Program Administrator.

To pursue the course-based route in a focus area, students are required to complete the five core courses, in addition to five 3-credit electives and the final MDDE 694 E-Portfolio Capstone Project.

To pursue the thesis route in a focus area, students are required to complete the five core courses, in addition to two 3-credit electives and the four thesis courses (MDDE 701, MDDE 702, MDDE 703, MDDE 704).

MEd Focus Areas

Thesis Credits

Students who pursue the thesis program route are required to complete four, 3-credit courses: MDDE 701, MDDE 702, MDDE 703, and MDDE 704. The first three courses (MDDE 701, MDDE 702, and MDDE 703) are conventional Centre for Distance Education courses. MDDE 704 is not a conventional course but serves as a placeholder for administrative purposes.

MDDE 701: Quantitative Research Methods (3 credits). Prerequisite: MDDE 602 or permission of the instructor. This course focuses on quantitative research methods. The concepts and skills that will be acquired will provide the student who is pursuing the thesis route with the competencies in commonly used statistical tests, both parametric and non-parametric. Data analyses will be carried out using SPSS, a popular and powerful data analysis software program. Emphasis will be on the future integration of specific statistical tests with the students' preliminary research proposal (MDDE 703). Students that successfully complete MDDE 701 but opt out of the thesis program route to pursue the course-based program route, will be granted three elective credits.

MDDE 702: Qualitative Research Methods (3 credits). Prerequisite: MDDE 701 or approval by instructor. This course focuses on qualitative research methods. The concepts and skills that will be acquired will provide the student who is pursuing the thesis route with the competencies in the predominant qualitative approaches (narrative, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, case study) and associated data analytic techniques. Data analyses will be carried out using N-Vivo, a popular and powerful non-numerical data analysis software program. Emphasis will be on the future integration of qualitative data analytic techniques with the students' preliminary research proposal (MDDE 703).

Students that successfully complete MDDE 702 but opt out of the thesis program route to pursue the course-based route will be granted three elective credits.

All students taking the thesis program route must successfully complete both MDDE 701 and MDDE 702 before registering in MDDE 703.

MDDE 703: Research Proposal Writing (3 credits). Prerequisite: MDDE 701 and MDDE 702. This three-credit course focuses on the integration of the competencies acquired in MDDE 602, MDDE 701, and MDDE 702 with the generation of a research proposal. The three competencies of this course are a comprehensive review of the literature that focuses on the students' topics of interest, an in-depth analysis of a completed research proposal and of a completed MEd thesis (both by graduated MEd thesis students) and the generation of a research proposal.

Students that successfully complete MDDE 703 but opt out of the thesis program route to pursue the course-based route will be granted three elective credits.

MDDE 704: Thesis Completion and Oral Defense (3 credits). Prerequisite: MDDE 703. Students will establish a thesis supervisory committee that consists of a supervisor (typically a full-time faculty member of the Centre for Distance Education) and at least one other committee member. The focus in MDDE 704 is the implementation of the student's preliminary research proposal following approval from the student's thesis committee and after approval from Athabasca University's Review of Ethics Board. The final step of the thesis program route is the student's oral defense which is carried out by the student's committee members (supervisor, second committee member) and an appointed external examiner. All components of MDDE 704 are subject to the policies and procedures of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Advanced Standing

Some students may have completed graduate level course work at other post-secondary institutions that is applicable to the MEd program. After being admitted to the MEd program, students may request a review of such course work. A faculty committee will review such work to determine whether the student should be awarded advanced standing in the MEd program.

Students seeking advanced standing will be required to submit official transcripts, detailed course descriptions, and the appropriate evaluation fee to the MEd program director for review. Failure to supply either transcript or detailed course descriptions shall result in no advanced standing being awarded.

Students will not be awarded advance standing for courses previously used towards another credential.

In addition, students may be able to build on prior learning experiences and receive credit through independent study (MDDE 690). For more information, students should contact the CDE office.

Transfer Credit

Students enrolled in the MEd program may take courses from other post-secondary institutions in fulfilment of the program requirements, provided such courses are applicable to Athabasca University's MEd program. Students wishing to take courses from other institutions must submit a Letter of Permission Request Form and applicable fee, a rationale for how the course will fill an MEd requirement (e.g., as an elective course, or in lieu of a specific course), and detailed course outlines to the MEd program director for review.

If approved, the Centre for Distance Education will issue a Letter of Permission. To allow for mailing time, requests for a Letter of Permission should be made at least one month before the registration deadline at the institution where the student will be taking the course. Upon completion of the course, the student must submit an official transcript to the Centre for Distance Education in order to obtain credit for the course.

Program Delivery

The program is offered during three semesters each year. Each semester is 13 weeks in length. The fall semester begins the second Monday in September. The winter semester begins the second Monday in January. The spring/summer semester begins the last Monday in April.

All course work should be completed during the semester periods. Extensions to these timelines may be granted, if circumstances warrant (refer to Course-Related Procedures).

 

Information effective Sept. 1, 2016 to Aug. 31, 2017.

Updated January 04 2017 by laurab

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