The Spring Institute

An exciting, challenging, and engaging feature of the MACT program is the Spring Institute, held each May for three weeks in Edmonton.

You will join students from two cohorts to undertake two core courses, completing the bulk of the work and assignments during your time on campus. There is pre-reading and there may be pre-assignments. Final assignments are due in June.

Achieving academic goals is not the only purpose of the Institute. Other benefits include:

  • Building and renewing connections with faculty, staff, and fellow students face-to-face before heading online
  • Gaining insight from internationally recognized experts through the Distinguished Lecturer Series
  • Exchanging ideas and viewpoints through the Annual Communications and Technology Research Symposium (poster presentation by second year students)
  • Networking and socializing with classmates at formal and informal events
  • Strengthening learning and study skills through special training sessions

The Spring Institute combines the campus experience of one of Canada's leading research-intensive universities with the convenience of intensive course delivery. Classes are held at the University of Alberta campus, which is conveniently located on major bus routes and has direct access to an LRT (Light Rapid Transit) station. 

What to expect at Spring Institute

At the first spring institute, you will meet your professors, your MACT cohort of students, as well as students from the previous cohort, and the MACT staff. You will begin work on the first two core courses of the program, COMM 502 Human Communications and COMM 503 Social Impact of Digital Communications. You will also be introduced to the University of Alberta's online course delivery system, eClass, which you will use for online learning in subsequent courses. In addition, an orientation to the University of Alberta Libraries and the MACT program will be given.

In the second year of the program, you will return to the University of Alberta for another three week residency. During the Spring Institute you will complete course work on COMM 501 Applied Research in Communications and Technology and COMM 506 Strategic Communications. A special feature of the Spring Institute is the Annual Communications and Technology Research Symposium. A scholar in the field of communications and technology is invited to speak at the symposium. As a component of COMM 501, you and your cohort will present the proposals for your applied final research projects as posters at the annual Research Symposium. The symposium is open to all members of the university community and is an excellent opportunity to share your research ideas and to receive valuable feedback from academic staff and fellow students. Social occasions such as the opening reception, a pub night and the farewell dinner provide a much needed break from the intense academic schedule and a great opportunity to network with colleagues and faculty.

The Cohort Model

The MACT program uses the cohort model of student progress. Historically, the word cohort referred to a band of soldiers in ancient Rome. Today, we use the term simply to refer to a group that has been established for the purpose of seeking a common goal or following the same path together. The goal or path is the student's program of graduate studies at the University of Alberta. You become one of a number of successful applicants who all enter the program and finish the program at the same time. Essentially, you attend the Spring Institutes together, work through assignments and projects together and eventually graduate together. Only one cohort is admitted each year, so you may hear occasional references to Cohort 2020, Cohort 2021 and so on. What this program model means to you is that much of the graduate student experience will be shared with other students in your cohort. Many friendships and professional relationships are established within each cohort, allowing you to meet and work with a relatively small group of people in the online and classroom courses to follow. Mutual support is a key benefit of working within each cohort.

The transition to the first online course in the fall of your first year can be smoother because you will have already met and studied with classmates face-to-face at the Spring Institute in May. Students often look forward to their second Spring Institute in part because of the opportunity to renew connections with members of their cohort, with whom they will have been exchanging e-mail messages and discussion postings during the intervening months. Fellow members of a cohort can support one another in the goal of completing the program.