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Athabasca University

Distance Education: A Great Way to Learn

What is distance education?

Typically, distance education means that you and your professor (also called tutors or instructors) are physically separated from each other.

Your distance education learning materials can be

  • print-based
  • on-line
  • audio
  • video
  • CD and/or
  • DVD

Like classroom-based students, your learning activities include reading textbooks and articles, completing assignments, projects, and essays, and writing exams.

In some online AU courses and programs, you can find yourself participating in group discussions and completing group projects with fellow students.

The only differences between classroom-based and distance learning are that you study from wherever and whenever you happen to be, and your primary contact with your professor (tutor / instructor) is by e-mail and phone.


As a student, you can obtain all kinds of services and support through the University's myAU portal.


What are the benefits of distance education?

Distance education with Athabasca University enables you to

  • receive personalized one-on-one teaching
  • receive high-quality Study Guides and learning materials developed by subject matter experts
    • you don't have to worry about taking lecture notes!
  • learn while you earn
  • start at any time (the 1st day of any month)
  • schedule your study times to fit within your lifestyle
  • set your own pace
  • stay at home or in your community
  • study from wherever and whenever you happen to be


How does it work?

Typically, the BPA programs use an approach called individualized study. This means that you work on your own within a contracted six-month course timeframe.

You receive

  • a hard copy Course Study Guide
  • your textbook(s)
  • any other required learning materials, such as articles, videos, audio tapes, or CDs
  • a Web link and password, if your course uses a website

You can

  • talk with your professor (tutor / instructor) by e-mail or phone
  • submit your assignments electronically (usually by e-mail)
  • write any exams at a location near you
  • request an extension for course completion, if you need it (refer to the AU Calendar on Course Extensions)
  • if it is a part of your course, use a course website (e.g., obtain online articles, view streaming video, or listen to presentations)

We also offer some courses in a classroom setting at select colleges in Alberta.

It's a great way to learn!

Updated July 29 2021 by Student & Academic Services

AU, CANADA'S OPEN UNIVERSITY, is an internationally recognized leader in online and distance learning.