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Athabasca University to create one-of-a-kind online learning environment

Leading-edge technology benefits students at Canada’s Online University

Press Release

Athabasca University (AU), Canada’s first and foremost online university, is enhancing its digital learning technology to build the learning environment of the future, providing learners with an engaging and immersive experience unlike any other in Canada.

AU has partnered with industry-leading experts D2L and Ellucian to innovate and improve the learner experience, in an approach that is a first among post-secondary institutions in Canada. Once complete, AU’s integrated learning environment will be one of the most sophisticated in the post-secondary online space. It will bring together all aspects of online learning as a seamless whole, including the management of learning, data records, academic and financial services, credentialing, and learner support.

AU will use D2L’s Brightspace platform and leading-edge technology to create the most interactive course content for learners, provide individualized learning pathways, give learners personalized feedback and engage them in their learning through gamification, social tools, and video.

The Ellucian features will further add to the experience by giving AU learners enhanced access to grades, course registration, financial aid, and account management. AU will be able to deliver a more efficient and personalized experience for learners from the application process through graduation.

To provide a seamless service to learners across a lifetime of learning, AU’s integrated learning environment will be hosted in the AU Cloud. Earlier this year, AU was the first post-secondary institution in Canada to move its digital operations infrastructure into its own secure cloud environment. Technology will continue to be an important factor in removing barriers to access learning opportunities and driving innovation in the post-secondary sector.

In a recent survey conducted by Angus Reid, more than 80 per cent of respondents said they believe universities of the future will need to find innovative ways to integrate technology in learning. More than two-thirds of people surveyed said they would find more value in programs specifically created for a virtual environment, rather than in-person courses that had simply been moved online. And more than half of all Canadians (56 per cent) say university degrees will become much more individualized in the next 50 years.

“Above all, we’re educational innovators,” says Dr. Neil Fassina, President of Athabasca University. “More than 25 years ago we were the first institution in the world to offer an online MBA program. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we continue to build the education experience of the future in this integrated learning environment that will bring an incredible new experience to our learners. We’re looking forward to partnering with D2L and Ellucian as we continue to relentlessly transform learning into the future.”

The new technologies will support AU’s model of open enrolment and flexible learning, allowing learners to start their courses and programs whenever and wherever is convenient for them.

“Athabasca is accelerating the future of learning with a vision for a university built around the student,” says John Baker, President and CEO of D2L. “From traditional students, to millions of Canadians and people around the world looking to upskill or reskill – there has never been a more urgent need to personalize the learning experiences to help students achieve their full potential. Athabasca is a recognized leader, and we’re proud to work with them to build a next-generation learning experience.”

“Athabasca University is a trailblazer in Canada and a model for institutions undergoing transformation around the globe,” said Laura Ipsen, President and CEO, Ellucian. “As a longtime partner, we continue to be impressed by AU’s commitment to improving the student experience and are honored to work with them to bring learning to more Canadian students.”


About Athabasca University

Athabasca University (AU), Canada’s Online University, is one of the world’s foremost and fastest-growing online and open education institutions, serving more than 43,000 learners across 87 countries. AU is the fifth largest university in Canada and one of four Comprehensive Academic and Research Universities in Alberta. AU offers online Bachelors, Masters, and PhD programs alongside online courses for personal and professional development. It is uniquely founded on the principles of flexibility and openness, giving learners control over their studies so they can obtain higher education whenever and wherever it is right for them. For more information, please visit


About D2L

D2L believes learning is the foundation upon which all progress and achievement rests. Working closely with organizations globally, D2L has transformed the way millions of people learn online and in the classroom. Learn more about D2L for schools, higher education and businesses at


About Ellucian

Ellucian is the market leader charting the digital future of higher education with a portfolio of cloud-ready technology solutions and services. From student recruitment to workforce analytics; from fundraising opportunities to alumni engagement; Ellucian’s comprehensive suite of data-rich tools gives colleges and universities the information they need to lead with confidence.

Working with a community of more than 2,700 customers in over 50 countries, Ellucian keeps innovating as higher education keeps evolving. Drawing on its comprehensive higher education business acumen and suite of services, Ellucian guides its customers through manageable, sustainable digital transformation—so that every type of institution and student can thrive in today’s fast-changing landscape. To find out what’s next in higher education solutions and services, visit Ellucian at


Media Inquiries

Angie Zander, Director of Communications, Athabasca University, [email protected]
Dana Dean, Director of Awareness, D2L Corporation, [email protected]
Lindsay Stanley, Managing Director, Public Relations, Ellucian, [email protected]

D2L Media Contact

Colin Horgan
‪Executive Communications Director
[email protected]
Twitter: @D2L

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