By Nick Candiotto
Special to The Toronto Sun
Learning truly is a lifelong process, with many institutions making it easier for students to continue their education long after their "physical" college days are over. With the the largest distance education program in the Maritime provinces, Acadia University embodies this commitment to lifelong learning.
"We've been doing distance learning for a long, long time ... starting with print correspondence, to phone conferencing, right up to today with the Internet. So we are very experienced in the field," says Shawna Singleton, program co-ordinator at the Nova Scotia-based university.
Nova Scotia-based Acadia University has the largest distance education program in the Maritime provinces, offering more than 100 university credit courses.
By offering more than 100 university credit courses, including certificates in Business Administration and Computer Science, their reputation as a leader in the field continues to grow. With the convenience of print, video, CD and Internet-based courses, Acadia's program is committed to helping students reach personal, career and educational goals.
"The program can be for anyone. From those who have family or work commitments and can't get to the traditional classes, to our full-time students who want to take a course during the summer, but still have a job," Singleton says.
Developed and taught by the university's faculty, distance learning courses are subject to review by department heads and deans -- ensuring they are equivalent to Acadia's on-campus classes. In fact, distance education students are treated in the same manner as their counterparts on campus. They are responsible for meeting curriculum requirements and ensuring they have any program and course prerequisites.
"One of the advantages of Acadia's distance education program is that classes are taught by faculty members as opposed to tutors. The faculty member that does the teaching also does the marking and is available to our students through a number of mediums."
Courses are offered for three years ongoing, meaning students can also take advantage of Acadia's "start anytime" system.
"We will let anybody who has the prerequisites start whenever they'd like during the year. As soon as students register, we process their application and send out the necessary information or materials -- that's a huge distinguishing factor," Singleton says.
In most cases, courses are self-paced. Students correspond with their instructor and submit assignments via mail, fax or e-mail. Students receive either a print package of their course materials by mail, or have instant access to the material on the Web.
A growing number of Acadia's distance education courses also require participation in real-time online discussion groups.
"As we continue to add or revise courses, the use of technology is more prevalent. It's particularly true in our graduate programs where students are more aware of the tools and understand the pedagogical benefit to interaction with others."
To find out more about their distance education options and for admission information, visit the university's Web site at www.acadiau.ca
or call toll-free 1-800-565-6568.
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