A decade's progress in distance education astronomy

Martin Connors, Kevin A. Douglas, David A. Lyder

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


Astronomy is now a well established discipline area at Athabasca University, and it is useful to review changes in the past decade. Our astronomy courses are offered entirely by distance education. Course materials are based on a study guide and textbook, but with supplemental materials, some computer-based, forming an important part of them. Regular contact with a qualified tutor is also an important part of the Athabasca University distance education model. We now offer two first-year courses, a senior geology course with strong astronomical links, and the opportunity to obtain senior-level credit for independent research. Both first-year courses are surveys of the entire field of astronomy. One is at an introductory level with no prerequisites. The second is more mathematical and detailed, including computerized laboratory exercises. Through these courses, Athabasca University provides the opportunity for Canadians anywhere to study astronomy at the university level. In addition to describing progress we attempt to evaluate the reasons for the growth of distance education astronomy. Astronomy enrollment now approaching 200 students represents a tenfold increase in a decade.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-222
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct. 2003


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