Editorial – Distance in Person

We all know that AU is a distance university. What some might not know, however, is that even as a distance university, AU still runs some “normal” classrooms. In partnerships with other universities and colleges, AU has run on-site, grouped study classes for years. It was a very limited offering of courses, usually chosen to supplement other offerings already being given at that college or learning institution. However, it was recently pointed out that this will be ending. Due to declining enrollments in these courses, and, of course, the cost of keeping an entirely separate model running, AU has decided that it will be closing these grouped study programs, and will be transitioning students in them to AU’s usual model of distance based courses for these students to complete their degrees. The classroom based classes are scheduled to end as of April 30, 2017. You can find all the details about the shift in a Facebook post from AU’s Director of Communications, John O’Brien. For students at specific institution, specific information for them will be rolled out over the coming weeks, but it’s likely to be along the lines of what’s been released for Grande Prairie Regional College students.

While I can understand the motivation for the change, I do feel bad for those students caught in the shift. Yes, there will be options and routes made available to them to complete their degrees, but I assume that these students chose the grouped and paced study courses for a reason. So even if the option is there for them to move over to the more traditional AU model, some of them may find they simply don’t have what it takes to complete their AU program once they make the shift over to distance and self-directed learning, because, let’s be honest, this mode of education isn’t for everyone. Some people need the extra support, the kick in the butt, and constant reminder of their courses that the classroom provides. It’s very easy for a student who’s not prepared to be self-motivated in an AU course to never get it done. Hopefully AU will understand this and be prepared to provide some extra support to these learners. Besides, doing so might just convince them to switch to distance education entirely.

In the meantime, this week, our feature interview is with Louise Baptiste, who is graduating from her Bachelor of Nursing program and moving forward into a master’s degree. And she did it while raising five kids.

And while we’re on the subject of a master’s degree, Deanna Roney takes a look at the choice that we all hope we’ll have to face one day, do we pursue a post-graduate degree? If so, which one? Also, as last this month was national poetry month, Barb Lehtiniemi points out why this matters, why we all love poetry, even if we don’t.

Plus, the Fit Student gives us some advice on something that every traditional AU student needs to develop, self-reliance. We don’t have a classroom of other students pushing us along. We don’t have set deadlines for our materials to be in, and to succeed in an AU course demands much more self-reliance than is required in traditional univerisities. Fortunately, the advice is fairly simple to follow. So check it out, and enjoy the read!

P.S. If you didn’t already know, The Voice Magazine has a Facebook page and a twitter feed if You’re into that kind of thing!

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