Master of Education in Distance Education (MDDE) 601

Introduction to Distance Education and Training

Course cover

Delivery Mode: Group Study (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Prerequisite: None.

Availability: All terms

Note: MEd program students must complete Mdde601 & Mdde602 prior to all other courses
Early access to the Moodle Learning Management System begins a few days before the official start date of your course. At that time you will have limited course access.


This first core course in Athabasca University's Master of Education in Distance Education program is required for all program students. It provides students with an overview of current forms of distance education and explores a variety of applications, including distance education in post-secondary institutions, K-12 schools, and in workplace and training environments. Research and theory development are addressed. The course also examines distance education technology, online teaching and learning, as well as learner support and the management and administration of distance education programs.

In addition to the study of distance education, the course also involves practical skill-building activities to help you become a more effective graduate student and distance learner. Towards this end, the course will promote skills in scholarly writing, library research, and reflective practice, as well as in the use of a variety of web-based tools and resources.

Course Goals

The goals of the course are to provide you with the following:

  • a foundation of knowledge, skills and attitudes that will prepare you for further studies and enable you to become competent academics and practitioners of distance education;
  • an introduction to a wide range of literature in the field;
  • a critical approach towards the theory and practice in the field of distance education and online learning; and
  • the means to integrate prior knowledge and skills with the newly acquired knowledge and skills developed in the course.

Course Outline

The course is divided into six units

  • Unit 1: Foundations of Distance Education
  • Unit 2: Research and Evaluation in Distance Education
  • Unit 3: Distance Education Technology
  • Unit 4: Teaching and Learning at a Distance
  • Unit 5: Learner Support
  • Unit 6: Management of Distance Education

Learning Resources


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S. E., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2011). Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education. (5th ed.). New York: Information Age Publishers.


Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

Selections from the online textbook: Anderson, T. (Ed.). (2008). The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed.). Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University Press.

Other Materials

Online study guide and readings.

Student Assessment

Your grade will be based on three assignments and your participation in the course.

Activity Credit Weight
Assignment 1: Students will complete a critical review of a selected article. 20%
Assignment 2: Students will work in groups and develop a presentation based on their critical review of a selected article. 30%
Assignment 3: Students will write a paper for a proposed new distance education organization and discuss various aspects of its design. 35%
Course Participation: Students are expected to participate in the course forums. 15%
Total 100%

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.