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Master’s in physical education online program receives national award

Ann Marie Vaughan and Dr. Antony Card.


By Michelle Osmond and Heidi Wicks

Most might think it’s impossible to complete a physical education degree online, but Memorial University has proven the opposite, creating Canada’s first fully online Masters in Physical Education (MPE).

The School of Human Kinetics and Recreation (HKR) and Distance Education and Learning Technologies (DELT), the university’s online and distance education provider, partnered with the provincial government’s Department of Education (who funded development) to create and deliver the program.

The program recently received this year’s Innovative and Creative Programming award at the University Continuing Education Association (UCEA) international conference in San Francisco, California.

Bernard Baker is a current MPE student who says the program offers more than just the flexibility he needs.

“Having materials online gives me 24-hour access and the small class size means more personal connections with fellow students and instructors in a less intimidating environment than a classroom,” said Mr. Baker. “Students from various Canadian provinces attend our virtual classroom, which added to a diverse perspective around issues and topics related to education,”

Ann Marie Vaughan, director of DELT, was thrilled to partner with HKR and the Department of Education on the project. “The MPE program has been offered on campus since 1975, and it was evident that the curriculum delivery needed to be modified to reflect the changing needs of today’s students,” said Ms. Vaughan. “Recognizing that distance students are as varied as the places they live in, a student-centred service model has been adopted, and I am happy to see it has been so effective.”

The online MPE was designed for physical education teachers, enabling them to keep their current job, or not leave their families, while gaining the degree. “We are so proud of our MPE program and all the flexibility it offers,” said Dr. Antony Card, director of HKR at Memorial. “Making this program a reality was very much about offering our students the best possible learning environment and helping them reach their goals. And this award proves we’ve done just that.”

To enhance the delivery of the program and the learning experience for students, textbooks were replaced by e-books, customized by instructors and purchased from the publisher’s website, exams were developed and delivered online with support during the exam writing, and courses included videos to adjust the needs of different learning styles.

DELT also accepted an additional award at the UCEA conference for its marketing initiatives using social media through Facebook. Memorial University’s distance education capabilities make it the largest among Canadian comprehensive universities. Currently offering over 350 undergraduate and graduate degree courses from 10 faculties and schools, distance education has surpassed 15,000 registrations annually from across the province and around the world. The MPE program has increased the diversity of programs offered through DELT, as new courses for the degree were updated and expanded as well as adapted for online delivery with DELT’s team of instructional designers.

For more information about the MPE program, visit