Astria Learning: Providing IT Solutions with Dr. Jeff Bordes and Dr. Maja Zelihic

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Astria Learning: Providing IT Solutions with Dr. Jeff Bordes and Dr. Maja Zelihic

A lot of times, we hear from the higher learning institutions saying, “We want to go online, but we don’t know how to go about doing it.” Dr. Jeff Bordes and Dr. Maja Zelihic of Astria Learning say as they traveled through the world, a few requirements that we have are not necessarily resource requirements that translate into money. The requirement is more on the willingness to embrace new technology, adapt to a change, and willingness to take that jump into a different type of a setting.

Dr. Jeff Bordes is the CEO of Astria Learning. He specializes in E-learning solutions, client development, and business development. Astria Learning is currently providing IT solutions in nine countries and working with 208 institutions. Dr. Maja Zelihic is part of the educational team at Astria Learning and is a part-time lecturer at the University of Zambia in Africa for their MBA program that uses Astria’s learning platform. They share that the fear of the unknown can be pretty powerful, however, at the end of the day, they have a lot of programs, especially some of the government institutions who have historically been funded by government able to generate their own revenue and create sustainability.

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Online Classes So Important: Mandatory for Graduation

Times have certainly changed for high school education.  Alabama, Florida and Michigan are just some of the states that now require students to take at least one online course to graduate.  According to the article 10 Online Ed Trends Coming to a High School Near You, “Administrators believe that getting students to take online courses will better prepare them to work with the technologies they’ll face in college and the workforce.”

In Memphis online classes were increased due to an upswing in the desire by students to take these courses.  Online courses are available for both high school and middle school students.  An advantage for the schools is that they are less expensive.  In the article Online Class Required for Graduation in Memphis, the author points out that there will be some stringent requirements.  “The structure calls for accountability requiring students to log on, finish assignments, and participate in hour-long live chat sessions with an instructor and classmates. Teachers speak with students after each module to verify their identity. Proctored semester exams are administered on school grounds.”

The number of states adding online requirements continues to grow.  Idaho has a tech-focused school reform program that will require students to take two online courses.  Indiana has also jumped on the technology bandwagon.  Indiana state superintendent, Tony Bennett, recently announced that students will be required to take at least one online course in order to graduate.  In the article United States High Schools Including Online Coursework as Graduation Requirement, the author stated, “Mr. Bennett explained his rationale for an online course requirement by stating that he felt like experiencing an online course would help to prepare Indiana students for the technology they will be using at colleges and universities, as well as in the workforce.”

Related Articles

How to Teach Online Classes

I’m testing doing some radio podcasts.  This initial show has issues with the music in the first few seconds but it is just a test . . . Anyone interested in learning how to teach online courses may want to listen to this for helpful information though. Click on the picture to hear the podcast or click here.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/btrplayer.swf

Listen to internet radio with DianeHamilton on Blog Talk Radio

How to Respond Effectively in Online Discussions

Online college students often find that they are required to answer discussion questions in class.  With the popularity of texting and the lack of formality used when writing an email, many students are lacking the necessary skills to write an appropriate posting. 

Online schools often require that postings are substantive.  In other words, the postings should be substantial and have sufficient content to answer questions in depth.  Students may be given guidelines or a minimum word count to guide them.  However, when responding to fellow students’ postings, there are usually not specific word count requirements.  Therefore, it is important for students to respond in a way that is not merely showing their agreement or disagreement with what is being discussed. 

A good rule of thumb is to support what the student has said with at least one sentence. That doesn’t mean the student has to agree with the statement; they just have to support the fact that the student has made their point. 

Then after supporting them, the student can disagree or agree with the topic at hand.  They should include several more sentences explaining their position on the topic.  They could give examples and cite sources.  

A good way to end the discussion would be with a question that is either addressed to the original student or one that could be addressed to the class in order to bring more participants into the discussion.  

It is extremely important that students write in complete sentences, use correct grammar, check spelling and punctuate correctly.  For additional help with writing skills, please check out the following links:

Can Spell Check Make Things Worse?

Top 15 Writing and Grammar Mistakes

15 Ways to Improve Writing Skills

10 Common Writing Mistakes

Can Texting Damage Writing Skills?

Where Future College Students Are Finding Information

This E-Expectations 2010 report is out and it includes information about college-bound student’s expectations and how they are finding information about learning.   It can be confusing for recent high school graduates to know which college to attend.  In this report Google is the front-runner with 44% of students using this search engine to find college websites.  I found it interesting that 89% of the students learn about schools from traditional mail sources vs. 79% from email and only 65% from online searches.  Not surprisingly, 76% used Facebook as their number one social media resource  compared to only 33% using MySpace.

Ask Dr. Diane: First Time Online Student Questions

Ask Dr. Diane:  This week’s question is actually a compilation of several questions my “new to online learning” students have asked this week.

  1.  How much time does a student have to complete an online quiz?  This varies by school and by quiz.  In most of my courses, there is no time limit on taking the quiz.  However, many of the quizzes are set up so that you can only take them once.  If you get out of it, they often do not let you get back into it.  If you have technical difficulties, you might be able to call technical support and have them reset the quiz for you.
  2. How many discussion questions do I have to answer each week?  This also varies by school.  I have schools where I post one or two discussion questions each week that we get into a lot of depth discussing.  I have others were we have 5 questions.  Most schools require that you not only answer the initial question but that you also respond to some of your fellow classmates’ responses to that question. 
  3. How much time will I need to spend online each week?  This is a complicated question to answer.  Most of the classes I teach are asynchronous which means you can access the class during the hours of the day when it is most convenient for you. If a class is synchronous that would mean you would have to be online at a specific time.  In asynchronous classes, like the ones I teach, the majority of times students will spend will depend upon the course being taught.  It has been my experience that first-time 100 level courses require more reading than they do a lot of writing.  As you progress into master level courses, more research and writing will be required.  If you are reading more than writing, the time you spend online would depend upon whether your books were online books or regular books.  Even if they are online books, you could technically print them out.  I have some students say they spend about an hour a day online while others spend much more time.  A lot depends upon your learning style and that week’s assignments’ requirements.
  4. How are assignments submitted?  Each school uses a software program to have you access their classroom materials.  This software is called a platform.  The schools where I work use: OLS, Angel, eCollege and Blackboard.  The software for each school may differ to some extent, but in general, you will post answers to questions by responding in a way that is similar to responding to an email or a blog posting.  To upload assignments, it is very similar to uploading a file as you would if you were attaching it to an email. 

I answer a lot of these questions and more in my book:  The Online Student User’s Manual.

Ask Dr. Diane – Today’s Question About: Online College Student’s Learning Style

I am happy to answer questions about online learning, understanding personalities, careers and job changing, personal finance, and more . . . To see the list of things I write about, see the categories to the right. 

Today’s question:  In an online-learning system, how do you identify visual and verbal learning styles, and then what is the right method to use. Maybe you can give me the information and recommendations about it. Thanks.

There are several instruments (tests) that can be taken to give you an idea of your preferred style of learning.  You may have heard of VARK, Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory (ELT), or The Index of Learning Styles .

 Although it is the most helpful to do so, you don’t necessarily have to take a formalized test to know which of the styles best fits you. A student can try several different methods of learning to see which of them provides the most benefit. 

Some clues that you might be a visual learner would be if you like to:

  • Highlight or underline things to remember them
  • Prefer to re-write notes you have taken to better remember them
  • Find charts or graphs helpful
  • Find flashcards helpful

Some clues that you might be better with verbal learning would be if you like to:

  • Talk about what you have learned
  • Do well with audio books or like to record lectures
  • Read out loud to listen to questions asked and hear your answers given.
  • Like study groups

The following site offers a free learning assessment:  http://www.learning-styles-online.com.  This site could be a good starting place to give you a idea of what your style is and to suggest ideas of things you can do to help you learn based upon your preferred style.  

If you have a question you would like to ask me, please contact me by clicking here.

To receive a copy of my free online student’s newsletter, please click here.

Thanks for the great question!

Top Questions New Online Students Ask

I need your help! I am developing some videos for YouTube where I will be answering some of my student’s questions.  I would like to hear from those who have questions that you would like answered about online college courses.  Many of my students have questions about participation, time requirements, how discussion questions work, how to stay on track, how online degrees compare to traditional degrees, etc.  Please email me by clicking here and  I will send you back a response and your questions may show up on YouTube!

Distance ed students forming college clubs online – USATODAY.com

Feeling isolated as an online student? Join the club.

Or rather, join a club. At a handful of institutions, students working toward degrees online are meeting outside of class via the Web. These extracurricular organizations offer online students what many feel they are missing: the social and professional opportunities that historically have been part of the college experience.

“When you’re on campus, you have opportunities to engage your faculty and your peers,” says Debra Ann Mynar, 39, an online psychology student at Pennsylvania State University‘s World Campus. “When you do distance education, you don’t have those similar opportunities unless you make them.”

Some online college students may feel like they are all alone out there. This article by USA Today explains that there are some things that online learners can do to connect with other students. I set up chat rooms, in my individual classes that I teach, where students can interact. I see some students who feel at ease starting up a conversation . . . while others are more timid. I have noticed some of the schools are including more ways for students to become more visible to one another by allowing them to post profiles with pictures. Due to the popularity of social networking, there is no reason an online student should feel alone. I like sites I have seen from schools like the University of Colorado where students can blog about their experiences online. I hope more students who desire interaction take advantage of these sites or set up social networking connections on their own to become connected.