My Experience at Atlantic International University
After the storm comes shine. It started as a mystery that continued to demystify until the wave of uncertainty disappeared in the distance. The journey with AIU started on the morning of August 2008, when I got a mail from Sandra informing me that I have been enrolled by my brother into the dual program at AIU. The dream I thought came by e-mail, became true when I got a call from her to confirm my interest in the program and ascertain I ‘exist’ to begin the Andragogy studies with the University. Having not experienced this method of learning, other than the traditional lecturer – student adviser method used in Universities of learning, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to learn a new way of doing what others do, and mostly to continue my studies that was suspended at the University of Vermont. I was also unsure how I would learn ideas that would require further explanation from a lecturer on a subject matter. Amidst this dilemma, I knew I would surely learn new things, but what exactly they would be, I had no clue, yet I eagerly longed to advance my knowledge.
Initially it was not easy to break away from that form of learning, where students rely on the professor to proffer solution to problems. I sent many mails to my adviser, Prof. Valcin, to get him tell me what to do. He kept to the University rules, used his ingenuity to get me thinking and providing solutions to my own problems. He never told me it was my duty as an adult learner, yet he applied his expertise to get me started on the required path. I got so many materials explaining what the University expects of her students, ways to access and send mails and assignments, the students’ handbook, etc. Reading information, especially when it comes in very lengthy and bulky pages was a Herculean task for me especially as it was on the web and not in print material. A writer had said that one performs better when he/she is tested using the methodology he/she learnt with. This means that if one is used to reading textbooks, highlighting important facts on the pages of the text and all that goes with it, studying in a different environment would prove a great challenge. I had never done an online course nor learnt materials solely on the screen of a monitor. All my studies had been in printed hard copy not using the new technology. With these facts before me, it dawned on me that to be part of the train in AIU, getting all I needed in the Student Handbook online; I have to change my schema. I downloaded and printed the Handbook. I did this first because reading it on the website did not make much sense to me. Secondly, internet facility is not readily available in my locality, I had to pay every hour for using it in a cyber café. What more, my study habit had been to study my textbooks inside out to make sense of any course, so how would this one be? I also wondered how my job would allow me do my assignments to meet the school’s standard.
In all these confusion, my adviser took the bull by the horn; he was very understanding and encouraging. My joy was that he was quick to reply to my numerous questions. When it got very difficult for me to follow, he made an international call to explain things to me and was very willing to make more if needed. I felt very elated the day I spoke with him. It gave me an additional self confidence and sense of worth that a professor would call me from another continent. It was a great privilege and that spurred me on not to give up when the demands of my job doubled and wanted to ‘snuff life’ out of me. I was not daunted because I had my adviser’s assurance that many others passed through it and made, that I would make it too.
What more, doing my assignments following the required format and getting enough references was another task I am very grateful to learnt. When I finished planning my own curriculum design, I marveled at it because I have always wondered how the lecturers get to know what course to teach and what would constitute the content and method of evaluation. Working through mine own curriculum design empowered me and made working on the courses much less stressful guiding my thoughts and research. I told myself that even if I do not complete my program, what I have learnt so far would help me to plan a University curriculum anywhere any day.
As I said, it was not easy. My most frustrating experience was the deprivation I experienced seeking information from the websites. When I studied in the United States, I never experienced being blocked or deprived of any information from any website. I enjoyed what it is one expects from the internet, I got journals and logged into university libraries and ordered for articles.&nbs