Integrating Technology with the learning Process
The University of Atlanta’s Learn Center is the technological center of the University’s teaching and learning operations.
- Via the Learn Center, one accesses course syllabi, assignment-related specifics and suggestions, links to supplementary resources; examinatons and instructional guidelines.
- Via the Learn Center, one has interative options available: dedicated chatrooms, message boards, direct communication with faculty and administration. In fact, one can make contact with all offices of the University via this “virtual campus”: the bookstore to purchase or to sell books; all university offices (Academic Affairs, Student Services, Financial Services, among others).
- The Learn Center, if suitably utilized is central to the delivery system and provides students with a broad range of support mechanisms essential to student success. It is at once a key to learning and an informational center.
- In sum, the University of Atlanta’s Learn Center is a powerful learning platform -- at once highly sophisticated (in terms of potential and offerings) and yet user-friendly in every sense of the term.
Academic Environment and Student Achievement
- The University of Atlanta provides solidly-grounded courses, each and every one of which includes extensive professional-level readings supplemental to the assigned text or texts, and requires the assimilation and measurable application of large blocks of knowledge.
- Challenging assignments have been designed to promote strong critical thinking, analytical, and communicative skills. Each course has been developed and reviewed by multiple field experts, and is subject to regular revision, as the faculty, administration and National Advisory Council deems appropriate.
- In tandem with course syllabi and programmatic development, faculty of the highest caliber (nationally-recruited) select and approve the text or texts and readings for each course.
- Each course (general education courses, core courses, specialized field-specific courses) requires several critical reading/writing assignments (with emphasis on both content analysis and communicative skills), three essay exams, and one or two major research projects, plus a comprehensive final examination, with an approved proctor in place. The final examinations are notably challenging, as they require thorough assimilation of ALL course materials.
- Moreover, every degree program at the undergraduate and graduate level requires the submission of a Research Project, a detailed Field Work Experience, and a thesis (three notably rigorous demands). A Council of Readers, established as of Dec. 2006, evaluates every research project and thesis submitted and, while always tuned to constructive feedback, does not approve any piece of sub-standard work. Clearly, then, U of A students are receiving a thorough education, and completion of a degree indicates substantive achievement.
- Qualified faculty and significant learning resources are in place to facilitate and foster student success: that is the University’s ultimate objective. At the same time, it befalls the student to produce work worthy of the degree for which he or she is a candidate and such an standarads of excellence, clearly communicated throughout each program, remain central and non-negotiable.
Key Features of the Chat-Based Online Program
Time and Place Independent
Most communications in the Virtual Campus are asynchronous rather than real-time. While this naturally imposes some limitations, it has been found that asynchronous communications result in increased access for students since they can control the time and place for their participation. They enjoy far greater flexibility since activities need not be simultaneous. Asynchronous communication also enables both students and faculty to synthesize material at their own pace and to provide well thought out responses free of the pressure of instantaneous feedback. Students who need assistance immediately are able to contact a member of the administration during normal posted business hours via telephone or online chat room communication.
The Virtual Campus is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, enabling working adult learners to choose the times when they believe they are best prepared to engage in particular learning activities and spend as long as they wish working on them. The result is that the online adult learner has increased control and has more options than in the classroom.