June 21, 2021 at 10:03 pm MDT #197065KatyLoweParticipant
Hello Candidates! I have question about your personal experience at AU and what you feel are your favourite components of being a distance learner and what are your least favourite things. If you could change one thing about your experience what would it be?
June 22, 2021 at 1:24 am MDT #197066NormanParticipant
Candidate Eva Notter,
My favourite things about AU have to be the flexibility and timing of courses. Is there anywhere else that you can complete your education entirely on your own timeline?! The fact that I can start courses any month of the year is such a gift, not to mention having up to six months to complete them.
My least favourite thing would probably be the very nature of distance learning. While I am so grateful to have the opportunity to continue my education at my own pace, on my own terms, I do miss and thrive on the brick-and-mortar experience. It is one of the reasons I am running for council, I would really like to have the entire post-secondary experience. I do my best to find and participate in the different groups, forums, and apps that are available to us, but I would still like to have a deeper connection with my fellow students.
June 22, 2021 at 6:55 am MDT #197068Amy MayerParticipant
Thanks for this question.
My favourite thing about the AU online learning experience is the flexibility. Like many AU students, I work while completing my studies. I love that I do not have to attend set class times, allowing me to study around my work schedule. I also love that I can complete my courses at my own speed and I’m able to register for a new course at the beginning of any month.
A suggestion for improving the current education model would be for more opportunities to connect with students in my classes. I have started to meet with two of my fellow students in my current course, and I love talking about the course material with my peers. This connection with my peers adds a new dynamic to my learning experience, and I hope to find similar study buddies in my future courses.
June 22, 2021 at 11:14 am MDT #197069EllebelleParticipant
Candidate, Leah Campbell.
What a great question Katy, and thanks for your engagement with the election!
My favorite part about the AU experience is totally in line with the other answers: flexibility and accessibility. As a mother of two and someone who is working full-time with a full-time course load, flexibility is absolutely necessary or I wouldn’t be able to be attending university at all. AU provides an opportunity for students from all walks of life, regardless of individual circumstance, to achieve educational goals. I can log on from anywhere and whenever I have time.
As for the not so good stuff, I do tend to feel a bit “distant” from the student body (no pun intended – actually, full pun intended!!). A strictly online platform comes with a downside surrounding community engagement. I think there is much going on that students maybe aren’t aware of that could be utilized better, and perhaps room for additional online activities to get everyone involved.
If I could change one thing, I would change… tuition increases! Especially for us students from out of province. There has been a continuous increase throughout my 4 years here and the tuition prices will decrease the level of accessibility to some students. This isn’t all on AU, though. Significant cuts to post-secondary education came down at the government level. Something I know AUSU will be all over!
June 23, 2021 at 2:49 pm MDT #197082MarleyCurtisParticipant
My favourite thing about AU is how diverse the student body is! Some of my classmates just finished high school and others are returning to school after decades in the labour market. This is an experience unique to AU: teenagers who are still figuring out if they want to pursue engineering or nursing can share space with people who have been in those fields for years and are now switching out of them.
My least favourite thing is the fact that AU consistently misses opportunities like these. Although students from different walks of life share space in a virtual classroom, the ability to connect isn’t there and so those prospective engineering and nursing teens don’t get to ask questions that may change the course of their studies (and life). The ability to actually connect with mature students who’ve already done what you want to do would be invaluable. As a side note: I reached out to my faculty to ask about internships a few months ago and was floored to find that there isn’t a single internship available through AU in my field. This seems like something that could easily be the strength of an online university with a diverse student body and equally diverse alumni.
There are many accredited brick-and-mortar schools in Canada with lower tuition than AU, so I often find myself wondering what services our tuition is funding since there seems to be such a lack of them in comparison.
June 23, 2021 at 6:33 pm MDT #197083CassandraMackayParticipant
My favourite thing about distance learning is doing things on my schedule. Last semester was my first here at AU so I was getting a handle on things, then COVID happened and I went AWOL from AU for 2 months because my family needed me more. I also wrote a take home exam on December 24th. This semester, I’ve written several quizzes between 10PM-3AM because that works best for me. Extensions are also pretty amazing!
My least favourite thing would be how SFA handles extensions and how that affects funding. I understand students typically don’t need another disbursement if they don’t owe more tuition. However, I had other government benefits I missed out on last semester because, despite extending all five courses and still having a full time course load, I was not considered a full time student. I was working at the time so I was okay but I can only imagine how this impacts those not working.
As a couple of my fellow candidates have already stated, if I could change one thing it would be the tuition increases. It is now cheaper for me to attend my local university (and stay in residence with a full meal plan) than it is to stay at AU and pay rent, I am staying with AU though due to the flexibility, however seeing as AU does not have expenses associated with students living in residence, multiple buildings for professors to teach courses, and not all the faculty (I think) needs to commute daily, I feel like tuition could be lower or at least stay the same while still providing AU with a profit
June 24, 2021 at 4:40 pm MDT #197086dmahabalParticipant
My favourite component of being a distance learner is that I do not have to question whether I am receiving a good quality education. I feel as though many people have the misconception that distance learning to be of low-quality. While learning with AU I have encountered many scenarios that have reassured and provided me with the confidence that I am working towards a high standard undergraduate degree. For instance, I have looked into graduate studies and the universities that I have considered other than AU’s all recognize AU. Also, I like AU’s variety of courses they have been accommodating to my academic abilities. Finally, I have been hesitant about a few of the assignment topics that some courses assign and at times I was perplexed about how this is applicable to learning and how to go about completing them. However, in terms of the outcomes I felt intrigued by AU’S own style of learning which is out of the ordinary.
My least favourite thing about AU is the workload of the courses that do not have exams as a requirement. Also, the technical glitches of some courses such as not being able to access certain journal articles and the out-dated sources found in the Digital Reading Room, and no active conversation in the Chat Rooms can be inconvenient. Furthermore, the online library has brought me to feel frustrated on too many occasions and having to out-source has been overwhelming, challenging and time consuming in terms of researching. I also have had issues with program requirements and how to navigate MyAU portal properly; therefore, I feel each and every student should be provided with one-on-one assistance from a course coordinator prior to beginning their studies which I feel will help eliminate issues for both students and AU’s administration.
July 22, 2021 at 12:32 am MDT #197161Malak11Participant
My favorite point was that distance learning was possible at the time of the Corona virus outbreak. And I could continue my education without any stress and be with my family.
What bothered me was the lack of timely and easy access to some articles and magazines. And I could not get help from anyone in this case.
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