Once again Athabasca University can claim leadership status in the area of distance education. AU was one of only three recipients of an Award of Excellence for Institutional Achievement presented by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL). AU was the only North American recipient of the award – the others were BBC World Service in London, England and Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University in India. The Excellence in Distance Education Awards were conferred last week in Durban, South Africa at the Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning.
The institutional awards “recognize significant achievements in the innovative and effective application of appropriate learning technologies to reach students who might otherwise not have participated in the learning or training experience.”
The citation for AU’s award stated: “Since it (Athabasca University) was established in 1970, it has been at the forefront of the development of distance education in Canada. It has made technology its niche and, as new technologies become available, this open university has successfully integrated them to create flexible and more accessible programs and services for its learners.
“… It has worked tirelessly to promote the cause and ideals of distance education around the world.”
President Dominique Abrioux accepted the award on behalf of the university, and was also personally recognized for his contribution to distance education with the presentation of an Honorary Fellow of COL Award.
Noting that he began and has sustained his career at one academic institution, the citation for his award stated: “Having joined that university as a lecturer in 1979, he has served in a number of academic and senior administrative positions rising to become the President in 1995, a post that he continues to occupy with distinction. Dr. Abrioux was a pioneer in the development of distance education courses in French, one of Canada’s two official languages.
“His pioneering and innovative spirit was further demonstrated by his conception and launch in 2000 of the Canadian Virtual University, an organization over which he continues to preside as founding President. A partnership of 12 universities across Canada, the virtual university is committed to delivering university-level distance learning programs capable of being completed from anywhere in the world.
“Time magazine, in its November 12, 2001 issue, singled out Dominique and Athabasca University for leadership in “wired education.” This recognition speaks volumes about the international credibility earned for Athabasca University under Dominique’s guiding hand.
“Under his leadership, Athabasca University’s student enrolments have doubled including resident individual learners from 65 countries.”
The Commonwealth of Learning is an intergovernmental organization created by Commonwealth heads of government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources, and technologies. Headquartered in Vancouver, COL is the only official Commonwealth agency located outside Britain and is the world’s only intergovernmental organization solely concerned with the promotion and development of distance education and open learning. It was established in 1988 and has a membership of 54 countries.
Check out the COL website (SEE:http://www.col.org/edea/)for further information.