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STUDENTS LOOKING TO get ahead in their studies during their summer months usually turn to local classes. But if the choices for courses are lacking the classes they need, students have an alternative option. Online courses from universities across Canada are being offered for University of Ottawa credit.

“Most often, courses are taken in the summer in order to catch up,” said U of O academic advisor for the faculty of arts Julien Quesnel.

According to Quesnel, there’s more flexibility with the courses offered when students start searching in alternate universities—most of which are found through the Canadian Virtual Universities website.

Courses online provide more choice for students, which makes them appealing to potential students.

“Depending on the course, the professor, the structure, some people prefer online courses to those offered at the university,” said Quesnel.

One student who enjoyed the choices offered to her online was Mary Hogberg, third-year women’s studies major at Carleton University. Hogberg took a full semester’s worth of credits online in order to catch up on her elective courses.

“The biggest difference was the lack of accountability I had to anyone,” she said. “It was on me to watch the lectures, but I found that all of the assignments were based on the readings.”

Online courses vary in how they are organized. Some require students to be online during set hours, while others allow for student to organize their own schedules for readings and lectures.

“I lucked out with a course whose material was based mainly on the readings,” said Hogberg. “But I know some friends who took mainly lecture-based courses and their main problem was making the time to watch them.

Quesnel echoes that self-motivation is the biggest challenge with taking courses online.

“It’s different, because you’re on your own, really,” he said. “There’s motivation and drive needed—you have to plan your learning on your own. If you’re working part time, there’s definitely a juggle that goes on. You need that little extra dedication to do it on your own.”

University of Ottawa students looking to take online courses need to see their academic advisor to make arrangements. This is to ensure the courses they want to take are approved by the university, and are equivalent in subject matter and course work to obtain equal credit.

“You need to have courses approved by what we call a letter of permissions,” explained Quesnel. “We have a database here in which we have a list of courses that we find are equivalent to U of O courses. However, if the courses aren’t evaluated, we have to contact the institution’s department that the subject is in and have it paired with our courses to establish equivalence.”

Students pay the institution from which they are receiving learning, and once they’ve submitted transcripts to the U of O, the course credits are transferred to their degree. The only fees paid to the U of O are for the transfer of credits and the permission letter itself. These two fees, according to Quesnel, amount to around $40.

Aside from the challenge involved in scheduling your own classes, Hogberg encourages fellow students to enroll online if they want to get ahead this summer.

“The course was easy, and didn’t take up much of my summertime,” she said. “Having taken summer school in class as well, I found that online classes did not eat up my summer. My experience was very good with them.”


—Charlotte Bailey