This Calendar is effective September 1, 2000 - August 31, 2001
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2. Athabasca University:
An Overview

Admission Course Delivery
Transfer Credit Learning Accreditation
Advising / Counselling Courses in Development

Welcome to Athabasca University

Athabasca University is a leader in the field of distance education and lifelong learning. Canada's Open University makes it possible for more than 18,000 students annually to pursue university studies at their own pace, in their own home or workplace. Many of our students are completing their program at Athabasca University, others are taking specific courses to supplement their studies at other institutions, and many take courses for their own personal development.

Athabasca University offers opportunity — a university education to people regardless of where they live and work. We believe where there is a will to learn, there must be a method of delivering educational opportunity.

Undergraduate credit courses are offered in four areas of study — Applied Studies, Humanities, Science, and Social Science — using technological support and Athabasca University tutors.

Most courses are 3-credit or the equivalent of half-year courses or one semester. Others are 6-credit or the equivalent of a full year, or two semesters. Courses with a practicum component are 4-credit. Courses are available at the preparatory, junior, and senior levels. See Section 9 for graduate programs.

2.1. Admission Requirements

Anyone 18 years of age or older is eligible for admission to Athabasca University, regardless of previous educational experience, with or without a high school diploma. Enrolment in some programs and courses offered by Athabasca University may be restricted by academic achievement or by geographic area. Athabasca University has a year-round admission and enrolment policy and there are no application deadlines in home-study courses (see Section 6.2 - Course Start Dates/Registration. For paced course start dates refer to Section 6.2.3). Learners are advised to consider postal and processing times when a particular starting time is desired.

2.2. Course Delivery

Athabasca University is committed to meeting students' needs through flexibility in the design and delivery of its courses and programs. We offer a comprehensive list of more than 460 undergraduate courses in a wide variety of disciplines using innovative delivery methods.

Students can choose from two basic delivery modes — home study (print-based or online-enhanced) or paced study (seminar or e-Class®). Each delivery mode allows for a number of different learning methods including online courses and online-enhanced courses, seminar classroom instruction, e-Class®, teleconferencing, videoconferencing, telecourses, home labs, and computer mediated instruction.

Over the years the method of delivering home study and paced study courses has evolved from primarily a print-based system to an increasing use of electronic delivery. Many of our courses use the Internet and other media, either as an option or a requirement, to enhance each student's learning experience. Careful attention is paid, not just to the use of technology, but to the instructional design of our distance education course materials. Whatever your reasons are for joining the Athabasca University community, be confident we share your desire to reach your goals.

The balance of this section describes the various methods used to offer courses by distance learning at Athabasca University. Refer to these definitions when studying undergraduate course offerings in Section 3.

2.3. Methods of Course Delivery

Home Study

Course Materials
Athabasca University specializes in home-study courses that are delivered to students throughout North America and the world.

The course package you will receive may include, but is not limited to, a student manual, study guide (required reading, if included), textbook(s), CD-ROM, audiocassettes and / or videotapes, and home-lab kits among other learning instruction described below.

In individualized home study, students set their own study schedule within the time limits allowed for each course. Courses may be temporarily unavailable for various reasons. Check course availability before registering.

Your Tutor
Athabasca University tutors are committed to helping students learn at a distance. After you register in an Athabasca University course, and one month before your course start date, you will receive a letter containing your tutor's name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and tutoring hours. Your tutor is available when the course begins (the scheduled start date) and not before. Your tutor will assist you in understanding the course content and he or she is your main link with Athabasca University. School of Business students using ViTAL® will receive information about learning facilitators.

Your Course(s)
Students may pursue a program of courses on a full- or part-time basis. Full-time students may expect to enrol in three to five courses per term. Part-time learners usually register in one to three courses per term. Learners have six months to complete a three-credit course and a year to complete a six-credit course. Time extensions are available in home-study courses only.

Start Dates
Athabasca University home-study courses generally start on the first day of the month throughout the year. The Office of the Registrar will accept registration forms up to the tenth day of the previous month for a subsequent month start date provided the application is complete and ready for processing. Students are encouraged to submit forms and fees by the first day of the previous month to allow ample time for processing applications and any correspondence (e.g., by January 1 for a February 1 start date).

See Paced Study (following) for start dates of paced and/or e-Class® courses.

Communication and Technology
Students living in Canada or the United States can use a toll-free telephone service to contact their tutor. Students living outside these areas are responsible for their own telephone long-distance charges.

Athabasca University offers all its students the option of using e-mail to contact their tutor, professor, or learning facilitator and to submit their assignments. When you register in a course you will be sent a Student Kit with information about obtaining a student account (if required) and how to use the system.

Athabasca University's standard supported personal computing platform is the IBM-compatible PC. Limited support is available for PCs outside this standard from the University's Computing Services Department and the Helpdesk.

In an increasing number of courses and programs, the use of the Internet or course-specific computer configurations is an optional enhancement or a requirement (see Online Courses and Computer System Requirements, following). The course listings in this Calendar or the Web syllabi will provide that information.

Online Courses
Internet or online technology is an optional enhancement or a requirement in an increasing number of courses at Athabasca University. The Calendar course description or the Web course syllabi will indicate the delivery mode of each course (see Computer System Requirements, following). For some courses, participation in an online conference with other students is a mandatory requirement.

Students are advised that online conferences are retained and may be made available for research purposes.

Online-enhanced (Optional): In the Career Development (CADE), some Communication Studies (CMNS), Psychology (PSYC), and School of Business courses, for example, some course components are available via the Internet as an optional delivery mode. The Internet provides access to practice and testing activities and learning resources available on the World Wide Web. In these optional delivery modes, students require access to a computer with specific configurations and to the Internet. Students must have an ISP connection and provide their own Internet account with graphical Internet access should they choose this option.

Home-study Online (Requirement): Other Athabasca University courses, such as Computer Science (COMP) courses and some Communication Studies (CMNS) courses, for example, require the student to have access to a computer and an ISP connection supporting a graphical user interface, to complete the course. A link to course-specific computer system requirements is found on the COMP course syllabi on Athabasca University's Web site. A working e-mail account and the use of e-mail are also requirements in all COMP courses. Students are responsible for Internet-access costs. If you are still unsure of the computer requirements, contact the course coordinator.

These courses are designed to be completed at home or in the workplace and are delivered using a variety of distance education media. The amount of online activity varies among courses from participating in computer conferencing to the setting up of student Web site projects and downloading much of the learning materials in electronic format.

Paced Study

Learners who like the discipline of a schedule and the support of others may prefer a paced method of delivery. Typically, paced courses are courses taken within a designated time period and delivered in a classroom situation at Athabasca University's learning centres (located in Edmonton and Calgary) and / or at one of the many collaborating institutions across Canada. Many paced courses use a variety of media that enable instructors to simultaneously reach students unable to physically attend the classroom. Teleconferencing and videoconferencing, for example, allow students in one community to interact with an instructor and class in another community.

Paced courses usually begin in September and January (although at some locations there may be spring and summer sessions) and generally last 13 weeks (3-credit course) or 26 weeks (6-credit course).

Delivery of each paced course is dependent upon a minimum number of registrations. Check for course availability before registering, as courses are subject to cancellation for various reasons, specifically insufficient registrations. Check the following Web sites to ensure the course is currently offered or contact Learning Services Outreach, (780) 497-3401.

You must register at an Athabasca University Learning Centre in Edmonton or Calgary, or at the cooperating institution offering the course.

e-Class® (Paced Study Online)
e-Class® (paced study online) will become available during the 2000/2001 academic year. Students from across Canada will work as a group with fellow students and their instructors on a 13-week timetable — September to December and January to April semesters — in a paced electronic study environment. e-Class® is designed to be completed at home or in the workplace using an electronic delivery system — ideal for those who like the discipline of a schedule and the support of others.

e-Class® will utilize one-on-one communication, small group discussion, and classroom conferencing to bring students and instructors together using a mix of synchronous and asynchronous activities. There are no classes to attend. All you need is a computer that complies with Athabasca University's standards.

Fourteen courses are planned — from the School of Business and the Centre for Computing Information Systems. The courses will be available via e-Class®, subject to sufficient registrations.

Registration Information
The Web site syllabi contain a link to complete e-Class® registration information.

School of Business, Fall 2000
ACCT 253 Introductory Financial Accounting
ADMN 232 Administrative Principles
ADMN 233 Writing in Organizations
CMIS 301 Microcomputer Applications in Business (Windows)
MGSC 301 Statistics for Business and Economics I

School of Business, Winter 2001
ACCT 355 Cost Analysis
COMM 243 Interpersonal Communications in Management
ECON 247 Microeconomics
LGST 369 Commercial Law
MGSC 312 Statistics for Business and Economics II

Centre for Computing Information Systems, Fall 2000
COMP 200 Introduction to Computing and Information Systems
COMP 378 Introduction to Database Management

Centre for Computing Information Systems, Winter 2001
COMP 200 Introduction to Computing and Information Systems
COMP 268 Introduction to Computer Programming (Java)
COMP 361 Systems Analysis and Design
COMP 378 Introduction to Database Management

Courses from the School of Business have been chosen so that students can pursue part-time or full-time studies in Athabasca University's Bachelor of Commerce program. Many of these same courses will also be of interest to students pursuing Athabasca University's three-year Bachelor of Administration degree.

Computing Information Systems courses will be offered each term, subject to sufficient demand. Additional courses may become available after the initial offerings have been assessed.

Students will need access to a computer that complies with Athabasca University's standards (see Computer System Requirements following) and must supply their own Internet service provider. For the business courses, software will be used in a Web-enabled environment. Others will use Web browsers. For the Centre for Computing Information Systems courses (COMP), students should check CCIS's hardware and software requirements, consult the Web course syllabi, or contact the course coordinator. Students are advised that only limited assistance for other hardware and software platforms is offered from Athabasca University's Helpdesk.

Télé-université du Québec (Téluq Equivalency)
Athabasca University has entered into a new and exciting collaborative agreement with Télé-université du Québec. The agreement offers students the opportunity to register in the equivalent course in French offered by Télé-université through Athabasca University. The agreement will also provide some joint bilingual programs of study at the undergraduate and graduate level.

For more information about these equivalency courses contact Athabasca University, (800) 788-9041 (ext. 6375). The course descriptions in Section 3 also indicate French equivalency availability.

ViTAL® Electronic Classroom
ViTAL® is an acronym meaning Virtual Teaching and Learning, a learning environment developed by Athabasca University professors. It is a method of delivering a course that allows students to study at home using their computer and the Internet (some ViTAL® courses are accessible with a Web browser).

Many courses at Athabasca University, particularly those in the University's School of Business, are delivered using this method (with the support of Lotus Notes, a software package commonly used in business). Students receive the same course materials as their home-study counterparts, but much of the material is provided electronically directly to the student's personal e-mail box within the software package. Lotus Notes helps students organize their workspace with an easy-to-use tab system. Using ViTAL®, students can contribute to online discussions about the course, submit assignments electronically, request Library materials and exams, and post any course-related questions they may have.

ViTAL® also provides electronic access to professors, learning facilitators in the Call Centre (the "front-line" support for the School of Business courses and an integral part of the ViTAL® community), and academic experts, as well as to other students. Call Centre personnel, at (800) 788-9041 (ext. 6189) or (780) 675-6189, are available for technical, administrative, and course-related support. Leave an e-mail or voice-mail message and your query will be responded to.

ViTAL® advantages include fast turnaround of assignments; electronic access to the University Library; acquiring current news about Athabasca University, your course and your program; and registration support. If you have an IBM-compatible computer you can get started in a course using ViTAL® right away. ViTAL® requires the use of a modem and telephone line so you may incur long distance charges depending on where you live and whether you subscribe to an Internet provider.

Before you register in your first ViTAL® course, however, you should ensure that you have an Internet connection and that you are able to meet the computer requirements listed on the site.

Computer System Requirements
An increasing number of courses and programs at Athabasca University are offered through a combination of print-based material and online enhancements or via home-study online. In order to participate, each student must have ready access to the following suggested minimum computer hardware and software or the course-specific requirements described on the Web syllabus. Older technology may be inadequate to participate fully in the course or it may detract from a student's learning experience. Students are responsible for Internet-access costs.

Athabasca University offers all its students the option of using e-mail to contact their tutor, professor, or learning facilitator, and to submit their assignments. When you register in a course you will be sent a Student Kit with information to help you decide whether you need an Athabasca University account and instructions to use the system. This account provides students with a text-only interface (no mouse, no graphics), so if you are still unsure, contact Computing Services Helpdesk before filling in the request form.

Some undergraduate programs and courses (e.g., COMP, CMIS, and PSYC) and graduate programs require specific configurations. Check the Web site syllabi or call the course coordinator to confirm requirements.

For those courses that require computer and/or Internet use, prospective students will require much more than just the minimum requirements mentioned above. Students will need access to

  1. a computer that conforms to the minimum standards. Athabasca University's standard computing platform is the IBM-compatible computer. Some courses support other hardware and software platforms and / or have more specific requirements and these are noted in the Web syllabus. Students are advised that only limited assistance for other hardware and software platforms is offered from Athabasca University's Helpdesk.
  2. a modem
  3. and, in some courses, an Internet service provider (ISP connection).

Minimum General Requirements (Check course syllabus)
  • Pentium 100 or higher
  • 32 MB RAM
  • 50 MB free disk space
  • 3.5 inch floppy disk drive
  • Mouse
  • 28.8 baud modem
  • Windows 95
  • Anti-virus software (current)
Optimum General Requirements (Check course syllabus)
  • Pentium II or higher
  • 64 MB memory
  • CD-ROM
  • 100 MB free disk space
  • Mouse
  • 33.6 baud modem or faster
  • Laser or inkjet printer
  • Backup device
  • Access to fax
  • The required word processing system is either Microsoft Word (version 6.0 or higher) or Microsoft Works (version 4.0 or higher).
  • Netscape or Internet Explorer (current)
  • Anti-virus software (current)
Audio and / or Video Component
Some home-study courses at Athabasca University are supplemented by audio and / or video components. The audiocassettes may be required listening to complete the course (and are included in the course package) while others are not required to complete the course but enrich the course content.

Home-study courses with a video component are called telecourses. Some Athabasca University courses include videotapes that are required viewing to complete the course, while other courses use videotapes to enrich the course content. Some of the University's course video components are broadcast throughout Alberta on ACCESS, The Education Station and Canada-wide on Canadian Learning Television (CLT). Check local listings for times.

Audio and / or video components not included in the course package may be borrowed from Athabasca University Library.

A Reading Course
A "reading course" describes a course offered at the senior (usually 400) level that deals with a specialized field of study and requires the direct supervision of a professor.

Lab Sessions

Home Labs
These courses contain a laboratory component that can be completed at home. Most of the required lab materials are included in the course package.

Paced Labs
These courses have a laboratory component that contains a substantial amount of work. The lab portion of these courses is usually held at specific sites and times, and is supervised. Paced lab availability is subject to a minimum number of enrolments.

See the following sites for current lab schedules offered by the Centre for Science, (800) 788-9041 [ext. 6380] or (780) 675-6380, or contact the course professor for more information.


Independent Labs
Athabasca University has developed a framework that allows students to access the laboratory component of certain science courses without taking the remaining instructional component, provided each student meets strict prerequisite requirements and has professor approval before registering in each class.

If the student is attending another institution, the student must be given approval in writing by his or her home institution to ensure that credit will be granted at that institution. If a student is using this course to update laboratory skills (e.g., teachers, instructors), then evidence of having previously taken an equivalent science course must be provided. Should the student decide to take the instructional portion of the Athabasca University course, the additional credit earned for laboratory modules will not be recognized, thereby maintaining the designation of the 3- or 6-credit course. Each independent lab, in parentheses, is worth 1 credit.

BIOL 325 ( Labb 325); CHEM 217 ( Labc 217); CHEM 218 (Labc 218); CHEM 350 (Labc 350); CHEM 360 (Labc 360); PHYS 200 (Labp 200); PHYS 201, Labp 201).

2.4. Transfer Credit

Athabasca University grants transfer credit for approved courses completed at other recognized post-secondary institutions. Its credits, in return, may be eligible for transfer to programs at other universities across Canada, the United States, and worldwide. See Section 5 - Undergraduate Admissions and Transfer Credit Procedures for more information.

2.5. Learning Accreditation

Athabasca University established a Centre for Learning Accreditation in 1996. It provides opportunities for students to gain credit for non-formal learning, and workplace and labour training programs. Several methods from many areas of learning are being developed to provide students with a variety of routes for credit assessment (see Section 10.5 - Centre for Learning Accreditation).

2.6. Advising and Counselling Services

Athabasca University provides advising and counselling assistance to students. We recognize adult students' broad range of concerns from determining a career direction and selecting a program of study to developing and applying effective study skills.

Advising Services helps new students enrol in a program of study or assists those currently in a program. Advisors can also help you select appropriate courses; deliver information about the University's requirements and procedures; help with your application for financial assistance; and refer you to other resources either within or outside the University.

Counselling Services helps you define your educational and career goals, and overcome any learning barriers by helping you select a program of study and by providing individual counselling sessions either in person, over the phone, or by e-mail.

Athabasca University students are encouraged to use these services. Refer to Services for telephone numbers.

Time Management and Study Skills
Only through good organization and careful time management can you take full advantage of the flexibility and freedom offered by distance education. Although this is a convenient way to learn, it is not always easy. It requires discipline and motivation and often takes more work than you might expect.

When comparing our courses to those at conventional universities, some people think they need to put in only the equivalent time spent in a classroom. Most learning, however, takes place outside the classroom — reading, studying, doing research, and preparing assignments. Our courses also involve these activities, so you must be prepared to spend "lecture time" and extra study time. The amount of time required in each course is a particularly important consideration if you intend to take more than one course at a time.

Many students find independent study challenging because of the amount of reading involved. About 60 to 70% of independent study usually consists of reading textbooks and study guides, and completing self-tests, practice questions, and exercises. In most courses, about 15 to 20% of the time is required for writing assignments. The remainder is spent communicating with the tutor, writing examinations, and possibly undertaking a practicum component.

Study skills development is a significant aspect of a counsellor's work. Counsellors help students develop successful study skills by recommending material and providing individual assistance for specific concerns.

Studies of performance at Athabasca University show four characteristics of successful students: they have clear educational goals and know why they are taking the course; they submit their first assignment promptly; they set aside regular periods for study; and they communicate with their tutor or professor when necessary.

If you need help sharpening your study skills, contact a University counsellor. Refer to Services for telephone numbers.

Access to Students with Disabilities
Athabasca University's objective is to provide students with physical, sensory, learning, emotional and other disabilities with an equal opportunity to access and succeed in our courses and programs. Services are being developed to respond to a wide variety of our students' needs. Students can presently receive information; assessments for assistive technology; assistance and / or referral for funding and services; help with study skill and organizational strategies; extension of course contract dates; alternative methods for writing exams; and a variety of other services.

Exams and Assignments
Exams are an expression of Athabasca University's philosophy that evaluating and testing should contribute directly to learning rather than simply judge a student's ability and effort. To this end, the University ties exams to learning objectives, and follows what is known as "criterion-referenced evaluation." Students know at the beginning of a course what they are expected to learn — and by the end of the course, how well they have learned.

Athabasca University is serious about academic misconduct, including plagiarism. Our faculty and staff trace suspected cases. Serious penalties are imposed if a case is substantiated. See Section 12 - Student Code of Conduct and Right to Appeal. These policies apply to both undergraduate and graduate students.

2.7. Important Dates

See linked Table.

2.8. Courses in Development

Athabasca University makes every effort to have the courses listed in the Calendar, open and available to students. Occasionally it is necessary to list courses, such as the following, as still in development at the time of printing. Refer to the courses and programs page for an update on availability throughout the Calendar year.

EDUC/ HRMT 3xx The Canadian Training System
HLST 301 Alternative Therapies
HRMT 3XX Recruitment and Selection
HSRV 433 Directed Readings I: Topics in the Human Services
HSRV 455 Project Design I
HSRV 477 Project Implementation I

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