Online Learning Tools: Five Questions About Constellation
Constellation® is an innovative suite of online course learning materials created specifically for Ashford University. Steve Wainwright is the Associate Vice President and Editor-In-Chief of Learning Resources for Bridgepoint Education. He oversees the Constellation platform and spoke with Forward Thinking about keeping content fresh, increasing accessibility to students, and how Constellation improves user experience.
FT: How much content can you access on Constellation?
Steve Wainwright: Currently, about 150 of the most popular courses at Ashford use Constellation materials (this is about 70 percent of the sections at any given time). We continue to work with Ashford to revise and improve these materials, and to create new ones, in order to continually improve the learning experience.
FT: In what ways do students use Constellation?
SW: Constellation uses a browser-based e-reader that can be accessed from any computer or mobile device. A unique feature of Constellation is that students can access their learning materials in multiple formats. For example, audio learners or students on the go have the ability to download a professionally recorded audio version of the content. Someone who prefers a printed copy can print their materials or download a PDF to print later. We also offer native apps for Apple and Android, which are great for those times when students don’t have internet access, since downloaded books can be read offline. Students can download Mobi files for the Kindle or an EPUB file to use on any mobile device, e-reader, or tablet.
FT: How do you ensure course materials stay relevant?
SW: Our team consists of editors with experience from top textbook publishers. We recruit top scholars and authors to write the content. We then develop the materials in close collaboration with Ashford faculty to ensure it meets course outcomes and the needs of students. We’re able to tailor all the content, including examples and exercises, to Ashford’s typical student, which is an adult learner – very different from the traditional 18 to 22 year-olds for whom most textbooks are designed.
FT: How does Constellation enhance the reading experience?
SW: In addition to standard textbook pedagogy, such as figures, tables, and boxes, the online format of Constellation materials allows students to take interactive quizzes at the end of each chapter to assess whether or not they have mastered the material. If not, a rejoinder points them in the right direction. They can search the entire book for a concept, watch related videos, bookmark concepts for later review or make highlights and annotations, just like they would in a traditional textbook. In Constellation, students can also save or print their highlights and notes to make a quick study guide. These features help students master the required concepts efficiently and point them in the right direction when they get off track.
FT: How would you describe the advantages of online learning versus traditional learning?
SW: Learning is learning, whether it is traditional or online, and there are advantages to both types. We feel Constellation helps to enhance the innate advantages of the online learning modality. It enables a learning experience that is much more personalized and adaptive, allowing students to move at their own pace and to seek out the elements that best suit their learning styles.
See how Constellation content is created. View the presentation below.
Written by Jason R. Latham, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education