Online instructor tracks elusive ‘student engagement’ in Africa


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Tents are lit by lamps in the evening as climbers prepare for the next day on an African expedition.

Actively engaging students is no easy task, but Robert Powell, who teaches online, has a plan. He will climb Mount Kilimanjaro next spring to spark the imagination of online hospitality students and show them career opportunities in their field around the world.

Powell will virtually take online U of A students on his trip to Africa. Readers can also come. The first in a series of articles is now live on The Online Learner. The series will follow Powell ahead of his February ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro and then 19,000ft to the summit. The blog, run by the Global Campus, will document Powell’s preparations for the experience he will share virtually with U of A students in his online hospitality classes in spring 2023.

Powell teaches several online courses as part of the School of Human Environmental Sciences homestay program at Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. This will be his second trip to Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. Powell uses real-time travel adventures to expand students’ perception of career options in hospitality management from a local to a global perspective.

The Global Campus supports U of A academic colleges that offer more than 75 online degree, certificate, micro-certificate, and bachelor’s degree programs. These programs are featured on the U of A ONLINE website at More than 440 students graduated from online degree programs in May.


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