The Hub Athabasca University first Canadian post-secondary institution to officially collaborate with Amazon Web Services

Athabasca University first Canadian post-secondary institution to officially collaborate with Amazon Web Services

Relationship with AWS will enhance online learner experience and streamline administration

Athabasca, Alberta – Athabasca University (AU) announced today that it is the first Canadian post- secondary institution to enter into a formal collaboration agreement with Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS). Not only will this collaboration modernize AU’s IT infrastructure, the two organizations will also be designing, implementing and managing cloud education programs, artificial intelligence and machine learning initiatives, and research-based applications for the education sector.

“Removing barriers around accessibility to post-secondary education is the first and most important step to elevating economic and social prosperity in Alberta,” comments Dr. Neil Fassina, President of Athabasca University. “Working with AWS, the province gains the advantage of being frontrunners in an ever-changing digital education space all while building tech knowledge, skills, and expertise right here at home. It is a win for learners, faculty, and staff—and the province, the rest of Canada and the world.” AU is undergoing a five-year Digital Transformation Strategy to modernize its infrastructure for all learners, and part of that plan is moving key applications into the AWS Cloud, and building an architecture that can support a million learners around the world.

In addition to facilitating access to a range of new learning and research environments, the collaboration broadens opportunities for innovative learning experiences that will allow AU to bend and flex according to the ever-changing needs of its diverse learners. One area of focus is creating ‘learning that learns from itself’ by adding machine learning and artificial intelligence to all interactions—giving AU insights on how to improve the user experience. The digital transformation will also allow students to learn anywhere, having classes be available across a number of devices including Amazon Kindle and Amazon Echo. The collaboration also puts a renewed focus on participation in AWS Educate and AWS Academy—two programs that train students and faculty on cloud technology and arm them with the skills needed in today’s IT-driven world.

“AU students globally will benefit from the university’s renewed approach to delivering digital education,” said Jeff Kratz, General Manager for Worldwide Public Sector for LATAM, Canada and the Caribbean. “By working with us through the AWS Educate program, we’ll see more graduates complete school with the cloud skills they need to be successful in today’s competitive IT environment. AU’s Digital Transformation plan is ambitious and we are confident the benefits of moving key applications to the AWS Cloud will greatly improve day-to-day operations.” AWS is a subsidiary of that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms.

Established 48 years ago, Athabasca University is Canada’s only public digital post-secondary institution and has a long history of being a leader and innovator in distributed learning. Today, AU is one of the world’s foremost and fastest growing online and distance education institutions, serving over 40,000 students worldwide across 60 graduate certificate, diploma, bachelor, masters and doctoral programs in liberal arts, science and professional education.

“I’m truly pleased to see Athabasca University’s commitment to collaboration, whether it’s with other institutions in our province or companies like Amazon across the world,” commented Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Alberta Advanced Education. “This innovative partnership will make it easier for all Albertans to get access to a high-quality education, no matter where they live, so they can get the skills they need to fulfill their dreams.”

“Our focus is to provide the highest quality Canadian digital learning experiences to learners of all ages, regardless of their location anywhere in the world. And we’re very excited to work with AWS to meet this mission,” presented Jennifer Schaeffer, AU Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at yesterday’s AWS first-ever Canadian Public Sector Summit in Ottawa. “We are confident that working with AWS will create stability with our digital systems, provide financial sustainability because of the ability to scale up and down based on need and create innovative opportunities for our students, staff, faculty and researchers.”

The digital evolution is a major component of a university-wide focus on being open, flexible and everywhere through its Imagine 5-Year Strategic Plan to enhance the learner experience today and for generations to come.

About Athabasca University

You can create and contribute as you study. This is how Athabasca University (AU) transforms lives and communities. The real world sees no separation between your education and the rest of your life. Neither does AU. Athabasca University was North America’s first online university. Its open and flexible environment is built on leveraging technology to enable learning. Athabasca is re-imagining its founding spirit with new investments in digital education. Athabasca University will never stop striving to perfect it. Open, flexible, and everywhere.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Alana Yim, Media Relations
Office of the President
Cell: 780-498-0870

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  • October 30, 2018