Enabling Online Self Paced Learning

Online Courseware Brokerage Services
In the current year it is estimated that a rather small percentage of K-12 instruction is online- about 1% (compare this with 10% for post-secondary). According to sources at the Education Industry Association, the online percentage of K-12 instruction will grow to approximately 50% in ten years. By that time, most online instruction will be received within schoolrooms- unlike the current situation wherein most online instruction is received in homes. This suggests that Asora's Stellar Schools design will become increasingly relevant going forward.

As should be evident to visitors who have reviewed our business plan for Stellar Schools (
available elsewhere on this website) that one of our roles will be that of a broker of third party products and services. In doing that, we plan to acquire and integrate third party online instructional content into the courseware that we will supply to customers- including franchisees.

Given our limited financial capital, we are beginning the development of Stellar Schools by first establishing a brokerage service, which will focus on instructional formats that accommodate self-pacing and on instructional content for the core curriculum.

Identifying prospective customers of online content
We are interested in providing brokerage services primarily to physical (brick & mortar) schools for the K-12 levels of instruction. Since we intend to provide AP courses, we sometimes identify them as 13th grade level courses. This leads us to occasionally use the nomenclature K-13 to express the instructional levels we cover.

Our company is an advocate of tutorial instruction because of its several advantages over traditional age-based group instruction. The latter’s defects, including pervasive social promotion in nearly every public and private school, suggest that the tutorial alternative should be considered.

To provide that tutorial instruction requires a self-paced learning environment supported by an asynchronous (on-demand) online instructional system. Thus our preference is to work with schools seeking a self-paced instructional format within core curricular areas. There is no need to convert all courses to the new online format in one step- the transition can proceed one or two subjects at a time.

Within Asora’s Stellar Schools project, we have our own long-term plans for developing/obtaining online content covering the core curricula for levels K-13. Implementation of those plans awaits adequate financial resources. In these plans we intend to maximize the use of third party courseware where it fits our curricular and instructional needs. Unfortunately, our review of this marketplace shows that none of the available courseware products have all- or even most- of the instructional components we seek. A list of those components or instructional formats is shown below.

As we develop our new brokerage service, we are seeking information from a number of vendors to learn more about their products. That should give us the knowledge base from which we can better assist our clients make purchasing decisions. (Though of secondary importance, we will also offer our services homeschooling families that are seeking online instructional resources.)

In the short run we intend to help clients find suitable “off-the-shelf” courseware products that can be used now. Then as resources and circumstances permit we plan to add other instructional components- either by producing them ourselves, by producing them jointly with client schools, or by working with third party courseware suppliers to provide them.

Co-development opportunities for customers
In the early phases of developing Stellar Schools there will be a number of missing pieces from our "arsenal" of courseware. We welcome customers who would like to help us develop these items. Partners in such development will share in future revenues from the courseware they help create. To learn more see our Development Opportunities page.

Identifying prospective suppliers of online content

We have found approximately 30 to 40 vendors and organizations that provide online instructional products and services in K-13 core curricular areas. Only a few vendors cover all of the subject areas, which suggests any given school or customer may wish to combine the offerings of two or more suppliers of the relevant courseware.

We have been querying these vendors as to their offerings. (What are the courses offered? And what are the modes of instruction? Also, how many of the following instructional formats are used in their courseware?) As we learn more about these suppliers, their offerings, and their willingness to cooperate, we will be in a better position to help clients obtain and use the most suitable courseware for their schools.

Our long-term plans foresee these courses having up to fifteen instructional formats that are listed below. Though we show them as separate items, we are aware that any given instructional courseware package may involve combinations of them.

The fifteen instructional formats of Asora Stellar Schools
Our instructional system is based on having students master each course’s knowledge items that we call Learning Concept Statements. The set of related Learning Concept Statements that would comprise a short lesson are called a Learning Concept Group. These lessons can be learned by following a combination of one or more instructional formats. We favor courseware that contains or accommodates as many of the following instructional formats as possible:

1. Lecturettes: For each Learning Concept Group a student may, on demand, receive a short video lecture presented by the instructional team, which we foresee as having two teachers and two student questioners. By “short” we mean that these lecture segments generally run no longer than 20 minutes. (For our calculus based physics course, we have produced two prototypical lecturettes.)

2. Supplemental Lecturettes: For a subset of Learning Concept Groups, which students often find more difficult than others, we present additional short lectures to help students “around” common mistakes and misconceptions.

3. Lecturette Notes Online: Expanded “scripts” of the Lecturettes are presented online in textbook format and is the primary textbook for the course as it contains all of the Learning Concept Statements and explanatory material that the student is expected to master. Material from the Supplemental Lecturettes is included in its appendices. (We have prototypes for a physics course.)

4. Lecturette Notes Hardcopy: A physical paper bound version of the Lecturette Notes is also provided to each student. (Again, we have prototypes for the physics course.)

5. Audio Presentations: Material quite similar to the Lecturettes may be presented in audio format. Some differences/augmentations in the presentations would correspond to information that would be presented visually in the Lecturettes.

6. Trade Text Hardcopy: A physical “trade” textbook. Generally, this book is used as a secondary textbook. (In the case of physics we use a book by Giancoli.)

7. Trade Text Online: When available, an e-book version of the secondary textbooks will be provided as well. (Publishers of the Giancoli text refused us permission to digitize their work.)

8. Confidence Based Assessment System: We intend to use the Knowledge Factor, Inc. system of assessment, which is described in more detail on our website. By knowing the confidence with which a student may hold an incorrect understanding of a concept or fact, it enables the instructional systems to better remediate the misunderstanding. Practice tests and official tests are drawn, in each instance, from a random sampling of the examination data base- the only difference being that official tests are proctored.

9. CyberTutor: After each administration of the practice test or proctored test, the CyberTutor mechanism compiles a remediation document that includes both textual and video presentations of the issues and concepts surrounding each question answered incorrectly. This means that students will encounter their video instructors again in this mode.

10. CyberWorkbook: Students can interact offline by completing CyberWorkbook assignments that are then scanned for grading by the Hub center staff.

11. CyberDrill: Students can interact online by responding to commands and questions presented online. Each such exercise will relate to one or more Learning Concept Statements.

12. CyberGames: Various computer games will be organized around the concepts of each course. They will be designed such that students who have mastered the course will tend to win more often.

13. Schoolroom Teachers: Within each Stellar Schools schoolroom there will be at least one teacher- operating in tutoring mode- who can help students learn the material.

14. Student Tutors: Many schoolrooms will also have present more advanced students who have already mastered the course content at a sufficiently high level to be accorded the status of “student tutor.” They will also be available to help.

15. Hub Help Desk: Finally, at the Stellar Schools Central Service Center or Hub- from which we plan to operate the Stellar Schools network- additional teachers will be available to answer questions when the resources at the schoolroom level prove inadequate.

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