Who are your fellow students? At times, in an online learning environment, it can feel like you are all alone, but across the nation and around the globe, students just like you are also pursuing their Athabasca University (AU) studies! Each week, The Voice Magazine will be bringing you some of these stories. If you would like to be featured next, do not hesitate to get in touch!
The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Justin Davis, currently residing in Edmonton, Alberta who is currently “pursuing a degree in Human Resources/Labour Relations.” He explained, “This degree has opened my eyes up to so many different opportunities after graduation. Currently I am interested in a career Labour Relations; the prospect of working with employers, unions, and workers is appealing spastically in a mediation role.”
On a more personal note, Justin is “a father, husband and student,” who stated, “After years in the renovation industry my body told me it was time for a change, and, after much searching, Athabasca University was the best fit for me.
When not studying, Justin stated that “[j]uggling my studies, family, and health takes up most of my time. If I do find some spare time, I love photography, mostly landscape and street photography. I find it so exciting when I see something special or interesting, whether it is downtown or on the backroads of Alberta. I also like to go snowboarding with my son, especially while I am still faster than he is.”
Justin became interested in photography during a vacation to Mexico. (Check out some of his photography below!) He explained, “I bought an entry level DSLR that came with two lenses. I took many photos and when I returned home edited them using Lightroom and Photoshop. Some of the photos turned out well, so I watched a bunch of YouTube videos on how to use all the camera modes and various editing techniques. I eventually purchased better quality equipment and now I really enjoy taking photos. It is exciting to go out for a walk, in the city, or on a trip and really pay attention to your surroundings, looking for moments to put in the camera. I recommend getting out even with just your phone out and seeing what you can capture.”
Justin also had some thoughts about the online learning experience. “I love when a course uses the Bookshelf app, having all my textbooks in one easy to use app is awesome. Highlighting, bookmarking, or having it read to me while I fold laundry or prepare supper is fantastic. Most of my courses have been so well organized! It makes the learning experience really pleasant. I hate photocopied PDFs! EW! I went as far as tracking down the ORGB 300[: Organizational Culture] text book at an antique book store, Athabasca U has spoiled me with the Bookshelf app and now I can’t go back.”
However, like many students, Justin did waver about continuing the educational journey at one point. He explained, “During the lock downs I had a hard time being productive; it seemed like there were bigger issues than my education. Being stuck in my home without the coffee shops or the gym and in isolation was too much. This last academic year I took a few classes at the UofA just to get out of the house and see what it was like to attend a brick-and-mortar University. I discovered two things. One I need to get out more, environment is very important to my success. Two, and to my surprise, Athabasca University manages to deliver a much richer education, classes are laid out nicely support is there when it is needed and no professors that lecture just to hear their own voices.”
As for his most memorable AU course? “Project Management was sweet! It is almost like a project manager designed the course. Every element was so well organized, the information had been presented is a very digestible manner, I loved it.”
When asked about communications with tutors, Justin stated, “I have not had to communicate too much with them but when I did they had been so nice, they seemed like people you could go for coffee with. Super friendly and easy going, not to mention helpful and understanding.”
If Justin were the new president of AU, one major project would be to “[c]reate consistency throughout all the courses,” explaining, “Most classes that I took so far have been great, Etextbooks, good commentary and assignments that class material prepared me for. However, there have been some classes I dreaded my way through, bits of reading from all corners of the internet, assignments that did not do a good job reflecting the material.”
As for pet peeves? “For the most part I am an easy going type of guy but when there is a flaw in something or a system that can be easily fix it real gets under my skin. And when spring refuses to come, I need sunshine!” Best of luck Justin!