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Learning at ACAS

 

Virtual Campus

The ACAS Virtual Campus located on the World Wide Web at www.amcollege.net affords graduate, undergraduate and non-degree diploma students an asynchronous learning environment with access to their courses and classrooms from any place where an Internet connection can be found and at anytime of the day or night, 24/7/365. Student’s login with an assigned user name and password from their home, office or laptop computer and enter course classrooms, see rosters and profile pages with biographies and photos of other students and the instructor, read assignments and course notes, listen to audio files, watch video clips or view PowerPoint presentations, perform research in the scientific literature or on the World Wide Web, post discussion pieces on current weekly class topics, post responses to a fellow classmates, ask the instructor a question or provide an answer to one, download files, upload papers and reports and complete timed online examinations. Additionally, there are student resource areas including an online library with a Master’s level librarian, a chat room, teleconference capabilities, a student center, a writing center, a career center, and other resources for learning and success. Courses have definite start and end dates and are lead by instructors who are facilitators for learning. Your fellow students may live in your state, the U.S., North or South America, or anywhere else in the world. Online learning is the most convenient and perhaps the best method of completing coursework and earning your degree or diploma in higher education.

 

Video Conferencing

Video conferences are available in courses through our subscription to Megameeting.com ®. Videoconferencing is our most recent step toward providing a robust student learning experience that parallels that of the traditional classroom. Using a headset with microphone and a Web cam, up to 15 students and an instructor can participate in a real-time classroom experience complete with PowerPoint, whiteboard, video clip and desktop sharing capabilities. Broadband Internet connectivity is recommended for the highest quality video experience. Students without a Web cam and microphone can also participate in a video conference with audio only via the teleconferencing system.
 

 

Academic Residencies

Academic residencies are face-to-face faculty lead courses intended to provide students with practical or “hands-on” program experiences built upon the theoretical knowledge acquired from completing online theoretical coursework. It is also often a way to increase cultural and intellectual diversity given the broad cultural backgrounds of ACAS students and faculty. In animal related programs with dogs and cats students will have the opportunity to work with animals in real-world settings such as animal shelters, animal sanctuaries and governmental animal control facilities. At present, animal related academic residency courses are held during the spring and fall semesters (see the Academic Calendar for more information). Students meet at the college’s 20-acre Dream Pond Science Field Station and Reserve in Crescent City, Florida U.S.A or at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Angel Canyon, Utah. Low cost student accommodations can be arranged by the student at local motels and bed and breakfasts in this rural community. An online classroom is set up on the college’s Virtual Campus for all Academic Residencies in order for students to gain additional information about a particular residency and to communicate with other students for the purpose of sharing rides, accommodations, etc. Students should budget their time and funds in order to participate in academic residencies when required for program completion. Students should also be aware of theoretical course prerequisites for academic residency courses.

 

Dream Pond Science Field Station and Reserve

The college’s Dream Pond Science Field Station and Reserve is located in Crescent City, Florida U.S.A., about a 90 minute drive from the Orlando, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville International airports. This lovely 20-acre lakeside reserve is home to llamas, horses, a miniature donkey, sheep, water fowl, and dogs. Students meet here for academic residencies and then are driven to animal shelters, sanctuaries and governmental animal control facilities where they will learn to handle, train and work with dogs. Crescent City is a rural farm and fernery area and boasts to be the “Bass fishing capital of the world” due to its several large fishing and boating lakes. Local accommodations are very reasonable by U.S. standards and students are encouraged to get to know each other via their academic residency course classroom on the college’s Virtual Campus before arriving.

 

Externships and Field Projects

Externships placements and Field Project courses are a means of achieving supervised experience and additional practical education in a real world facility operating in the student’s field of study. This includes developing or enhancing professional skills and responsibility, developing animal handling and assessment skills (in animal-related programs), and experiencing standard operating procedures in an actual business, non-profit organization or governmental agency operation. In some cases, students may work alongside a professional who works in the profession. The student is responsible for identifying such a facility or professional in, or out of, his or her community. Limited clerical or phone work that is job-related may be included. Externships duties may include several of the following responsibilities:

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Developing and investigating facts
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Conducting research
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Participating in operations
 
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Drafting documents such as standard operating procedures, case studies, and reports
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Participating in or attending sessions in which the host agency deals with the public
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Other duties assigned by the faculty member or supervisor and agreed upon by the host agency.
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The student will be supervised by one staff member at the host agency (hereinafter referred to as the supervisor), but may also work with others at the host agency.

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Externship and Field Project Pre-Requisites
All externship courses, and in some cases field project courses, have theoretical and practical course perquisite requirements prior to registering. For example, prior to registering for a canine behavior externship, students should have successfully completed a Virtual Campus-based canine behavior theoretical course and an Academic Residency practicum course unless prior approval is received by the student’s faculty adviser.
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Duration
Externships usually extend through a full semester, i.e. 12 weeks or 90 contact hours. If a program requires more than one semester of externship, e.g. two or three semesters, these are usually done back-to-back. In some programs, students may be required to change facilities and duties, e.g. one semester in an animal behavior facility such as a dog training school or animal shelter (performing behavioral tasks) and one semester in an animal husbandry facility such as a veterinary practice or animal shelter (performing care tasks). Students should consult the program outline and courses in the college catalog to be sure to register for the appropriate course or sequence of courses in programs requiring externship modules. Field projects are usually one semester in length, i.e. 12 weeks or 90 contact hours. Students may choose to work additional hours for additional experience with permission from the supervisor and faculty adviser.
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Preparation in Advance
Students who anticipate taking an externship or field project in an upcoming semester are encouraged to read the ACAS Externship and Field Project Manual, and assigned texts or papers if required, prior to beginning the course and to seek to identify possible host facilities or professionals in advance of beginning the course.
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Recordkeeping and Virtual Campus Classroom
Each externship and field project has an online classroom associated with it during each semester to use for communication and questions and answers between students and their faculty adviser. Students are expected to keep a journal or log of activities at the host facility and post this information, as well as questions for the course instructor, in the classroom on the college’s Virtual Campus each week. The faculty adviser will engage the student(s) in critical evaluation of the externship, discuss the professional experience at the host facility or with the field professional, identify operational and ethical issues raised by the externship experience, and explore the issues of procedure that relate to the student(s) experience.
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Externship and Field Project Assessment
The student will receive regular course grades and credits for all externships and field projects. Students should refer to the course syllabus for more information.


 

Thesis Project

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A thesis is a research document that represents the completion of the final requirement for the degree being pursued. It is a requirement for all ACAS undergraduate and graduate degree students. Undergraduate Students will select two faculty members for their thesis committee. Graduate students will select two faculty members and an external reader for their thesis committee. Since the thesis is normally the culmination of the student's work on a particular degree, the writing typically begins when all other coursework has been completed. In consultation with the thesis committee Chairperson, the student decides on a general topic and undertakes the appropriate research. When a draft of reasonable completeness has been finished and approved by thesis committee Chairperson, the thesis is submitted to the other member for examination. For graduate students once the thesis member approves the draft, it is then sent to the external reader for approval. Once the whole committee approves the thesis draft, it is sent to an APA editor. When it is returned and the student has made the changes and has recieved final approval by the committee, the student will defend the thesis (oral defense) with the thesis committee via a teleconference.

 

 

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