Contributed by AU’s The Insider

Paula Smith, managing editor of The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL)(, provides an update:

Every healthy child encounters growth spurts. And Athabasca University’s e-journal The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning is no different. Sporting a new design that strategically complements AU’s new web presence, IRRODL’s new web site also boasts of abstract translations in Spanish, French and Chinese. New features also include full search engine capabilities, as well as a new series called Technical Notes, showcasing the work of evaluators as well as AU’s Master of Distance Education students. CDE’s Jon Baggaley is the series editor for Technical Notes.


Athabasca University’s Mathematics Diagnostic Assessment is now published online at:

Two versions of this online test contain 30 or 70 questions that will help assess students’ mathematical skills. Based on their score, the assessment will recommend which Athabasca University mathematics course a student is likely ready to take successfully.

You may also find the online English Language Skills Assessment useful. It is found at
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. Please contact me at the e-mail address below if you have any questions or concerns.

Dean Caplan
Instructional Media Analyst
Dept. of Educational Media Development
Athabasca University


This is to advise you of an important change in the undergraduate Grading Policy at Athabasca University.

Athabasca University has approved a new Alpha/4.0 grading scale for undergraduate studies effective January 1, 2003. The grades that students achieve will be stated, on transcripts and in student records, as alpha grades on a scale from A to F. Grade averages will be expressed as Grade Point Averages using the 4.0 grading scale.

These changes in grading scale are part of a province-wide initiative in Alberta.

Undergraduate courses that began before January 2003 will be graded using the percentage grading scale.

For a complete statement of this Athabasca University policy please go to:

If you have questions please contact me.

Bruce Dawson
Assistant Registrar, Registration Services
Athabasca University
1 University Drive
Athabasca, AB T9S 3A3
Phone 780-675-6147, Fax 780-675-6174


Challenge for Credit Option Exists for AU Students

Many students may not be aware that AU recognizes prior learning and encourages students to use the challenge for credit process if they feel they have knowledge or expertise in a particular subject area.

The process is not easy, but it is not insurmountable, and it can save the cost and time of taking a course if prior knowledge exists.

“We want to raise students’ awareness about the option and let them know that they don’t need to re-learn material or spend money on a course they don’t really need to take,” said Joan Fraser, director of the Centre for Learning Accreditation.

“Learning is learning and a student shouldn’t be penalized if that learning was not done within the confines of bricks and mortar,” she said, adding that those students with significant life or work force experience are typically those who pursue the challenge option.

Challenge for Credit is handled by the Registrar’s Office. Students are encouraged to check the course description to see if a challenge is permitted for the course they are interested in. If so, then the student must investigate a number of things prior to deciding whether to proceed.

First, and most important, the student should discuss the matter with the course coordinator. The coordinator will be able to give a better idea of the depth of the materials covered in the course, and the student’s chance for success should he/she opt to challenge.

The AU calendar outlines the challenge steps, notably completing the Challenge for Credit Application and accessing the course materials, which further allows the student to review the materials and determine if the challenge is viable. There is a non-refundable challenge for credit fee (check the web site for the current fee), but it should be noted that no withdrawal is allowed once the application has been completed.

“It (the challenge for credit) is something that’s there for you – use it,” Fraser said.
Anyone with questions about the process is encouraged to call Joan Fraser at (780) 675-6481 or check AU’s website at