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What Does the Online Environment Look Like?

Avatar Learning is based on the traditional college online class format with a few important differences. Since the courses are provided in a "at your own pace" format there is no fixed weekly schedule or due dates. In a more traditional format used at colleges and universities online classes require students to study and complete discussions, and presentations at fixed dates and all students must start and complete the course at the same time. In Avatar's approach Subject Mater Experts (SMEs) provide materials, quizzes, and recommended lecture and assignments that can be accessed at any time. Students are free to study and complete the material whenever they choose. There are benefits and drawbacks to both approaches. Some students prefer the scheduled approach because they need to feel involved, as a group, with the class experience. It’s rewarding to ask a question or offer a comment, and to receive feedback from the fellow students and faculty. For others, the non-scheduled format provides a better way to learn. Some students need more or less time to study the material then the group approach. In a scheduled class these students might get overshadowed by other students or be bored and lose focus due to the pace of the material covered.

We are a free service so we urge everyone who is thinking of going the test out route to reduce their college cost to give us a try.  Registration is free and painless, it only takes a few minutes and is only required so the system can show your progress as you progress. After you set up your account you can immediately register for as many courses as you want. We suggest that for a proper evaluation you select one course and complete a single section of it. Once you are happy with your understanding of the material in it take the quiz and see how well you would have done for that material on a CLEP exam.

How to evaluate an online course:
The look, feel and functionality of the site you use for online education is very important. Whether you use Avatar Virtual Learning or another online approach, there are certain basic functions and design elements that should appear in all course presentations. The key elements to look for and evaluate are listed below.
  • Consider how the course is introduced to you. - For instance, at Avatar each course has an introduction and key information displayed before you even register and start the course.
  • Does the course have a clear starting point for your course? - We headline the course at the top of your course menu and put key course start-up information in that section. This includes a welcome message, any special technology requirements for the course along with instructions on reviewing the syllabus, and any recommended links to review.
  • Is there an introduction available to fellow students? - Each of our courses has an "introduce yourself" discussion thread. This lets you see who has taken or is taking your course. It also begins a process of student communication that can continue throughout the course.
  • Is the organization of the course material? - Each of our course menus have meaningful names and clear, logical order for all menu items. In a traditional college online course, the menu and material covered is often designed for week by week since Avatar's approach is more flexible the material is section based.
  • Do all external links open in a new page? - Since Avatar's approach is open resource based all external links to study and review material open in a new window. This helps keep the student present in the existing course section while still accessing the new resource.
  • It must provide clear information on how to find help. - Avatar's non-faculty approach shifts the support and questioning of the material to pear based. To support this every course has an open discussion forum for students and volunteers to respond to student questions. This helps students start giving and receiving answers in a central point.
  • Do you get constant feedback on your progress? - For Avatar's courses each section has a quiz option.  These quizes are dynamically generated and can be taken over and over by the student.  The questions are typical questions for the material as would be given on a course exam like CLEP.  The score reviewed by the student at any time.