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College Spins Off Platform for Real-Time Online Learning

A two-year-old college that provides "face-to-face" classes online has spun off its active learning platform as a stand-alone service. Foundry College, which currently offers an associate degree in business management, said its software, "The Forge," emphasizes the community aspects of education in an online format.

For example, a scrolling video grid lets students be seen on video. They can raise their hand for attention from the faculty member, answer a question in an in-class chat window and engage with polls displayed by the instructor. Faculty can "spotlight" a student, and give him or her control to address the whole class.

Instructors can also create breakout groups of two to eight students for collaborative activities; those groupings can be also based on comparable knowledge and abilities as measured by in-class quiz scores and other data. Students can participate in debates, role-playing and other experiential learning in the breakout groups. And faculty can monitor breakout activities through "heat maps" that display how much interaction is taking place in each group. They can also interact with a single breakout group or all groups simultaneously.

Dashboards help instructors track student attendance, participation and learning progress.

"It's becoming increasingly clear that live, face-to-face instruction in an online environment has a vital place in modern education — and not just due to recent global events," said Stephen Kosslyn, CEO and president of the college, in a statement. "The Forge platform provides a better learning experience than is possible in asynchronous online courses. Both faculty and students actually feel as though they are sitting together in a classroom and engaging with the material and each other. It's the closest thing to 'being there' without being in the same physical space."

The college said those interested in learning more about the platform can reach out through e-mail.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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