Online Tools That Bridge the Generation Gap

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Online Tools

Adult learners returning to school – especially an online environment – after several years often find the college experience has evolved significantly since they last set foot in a classroom. As if adapting to new technology wasn’t challenging enough, adults must also adapt to new styles and standards of learning. Someone in his/her late 30s who graduated college before the millennium might feel at a disadvantage learning alongside a student just out of high school who grew up using the internet and has been shaped by its technology and trends.

But really, online learning is about creating a level playing field for all students. At Ashford University, this premise includes the adaptation of a specific writing format – APA – and classroom and research tools that are used by the entire student body. With the resources provided, there’s a familiar standard, allowing students of different generations to learn and grow at the same level. These technologies are evolved from those used by previous generations of learners, and they can deliver more precise feedback and a more accurate critique of a person’s writing style, grammar, etc.

Sourcing and plagiarism

Take, for example, the Turnitin program, which is provided to all students as they begin their first course at Ashford. The program is designed to help students avoid “unintentional plagiarism.” We absorb information from countless sources every day, and a person may occasionally confuse original thought with something that he/she has read or heard online or in conversation. Turnitin allows students and faculty to determine the originality of their work. It’s an especially useful tool for students still becoming accustomed to APA format. If a student doesn’t realize he/she is plagiarizing a passage or idea, they will learn to properly source the information (Renard, 2000).

Revising work

In addition to Turnitin, the Writing Reviser tool is provided as a means of enhancing a student’s work. Adult learners returning to school after many years may not have been working in a profession that placed a great emphasis on writing. As a result, they haven’t been able to flex that part of their brain for some time. Being able to use a tool such as the Writing Reviser will allow them to see how their work can be improved, and they can take those lessons with them as they move forward at Ashford.

Online library

By far, one of the biggest advantages Ashford University students have is access to the online library, allowing them to search through thousands of articles, ebooks, academic journals, and visual aids. The experience improved recently with the launch of 24/7 chat assistance. If students are unable to find a resource through the search function, they can easily request a chat, and a librarian will help immediately.

Writing Center webinars

In addition to the resources provided in the online classroom, the Ashford Writing Center hosts bi-monthly webinars (students can follow Ashford on Facebook and Twitter to see them announced) on topics that range from basic Microsoft Word functions to integrating scholarly research into writing assignments.

The online college experience is going to be different for every student, but the tools are the same. Teaching everyone to get the most out of these resources is the University’s mission, so that students of all generations have a chance to succeed.

Written by Jason R. Latham, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education.


Renard, L. (2000). Cut and Paste 101: Plagiarism and the Net. Educational Leadership, 57(4), 38-42.


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