Stenberg’s Online Education Assistant Diploma
During the pandemic, online learning has become the norm for educational institutions, including Stenberg College. However, did you know that for the past 8 years, our online Education Assistant program has become one of our most popular? To give you a glimpse into the world of online learning, we interviewed one of our Education Assistant (EA) instructors, Natalie Taylor-Lane, who is also a working EA, and took an in-depth look at what it means to take an online program.
A rich learning environment
Stenberg has provided online education since 2006 and, pre-COVID, offered Cardiology Technologist, Medical Laboratory Assistant, Licensed Optician, Pharmacy Technician, Psychiatric Nursing, Therapeutic Recreation, and of course, Education Assistant programs in an online delivery format. These aren’t courses that have been transitioned to online because of COVID, but were carefully developed using the best technologies and modalities available for online learning. Quite simply, online delivery is an effective, flexible, and well-respected option.
What does the online Education Assistant program look like? Most importantly, whether you take the in-class or online option, the content and learning outcomes between the two programs are identical.
Whether you take the in-class or online option, the content and learning outcomes between the two programs are identical.
Unlike most university classes, classes at Stenberg are much smaller, allowing instructors to be more attentive to your needs and build relationships with you. To ensure every student comprehends the material and is keeping up, instructors host weekly virtual classes online to review content covered during the week. This is a great opportunity to ask questions and get clarification on a topic. Often, others will ask questions you hadn’t even thought of. The sessions are also recorded, allowing students to go back and review at their convenience.
Perhaps surprisingly, online learning is highly supportive and engaging. Instructors must respond to emails from students within 24 hours (although they most often respond sooner). The online forum is another great way to seek assistance and share with their peers. Most classes also create online Facebook or WhatsApp groups to interact in real-time. For more personalized support, instructor office hours are also available outside of class. Office hours are scheduled times that instructors set aside to provide one-on-one assistance. You can use this time to ask your instructor questions about assignments, course content, or to ensure you’re on the right track. Students feel supported in the program because instructors and classmates are only a message away! Many of our students have made friends for life in our online programs.
Learning through engagement
Reading from textbooks can be fatiguing and sometimes difficult to comprehend and retain information… One of the important elements of online learning are the multimedia-rich resources that offer learners more engaging and dynamic content and accommodate different learning styles. In addition to current, industry-specific textbooks, students learn from:
- Cutting-edge articles that keep students current on theories and concepts
- Engaging videos that present different perspectives and points of view
- Recorded Instructor-led lectures that allow you unlimited review and are supported by additional resources
Put theory into practice!
Ultimately it is the integration of theory and practice, particularly during the practicum placement, that will prepare you to become an effective EA. During the program, you will constantly apply practice to theory as you consider and respond to practical questions and theoretical situations. Not only does this make your understanding of concepts and theories less abstract, but it prepares you for your practicum placement(s) at the end of the program in elementary and/or secondary schools.
After completing a particularly helpful exercise, one of Natalie’s students shared, “This is an eye-opening activity. Not only is this awareness crucial to me as a student, but these activities help me understand what my future students may be facing.”
“Not only is this awareness crucial to me as a student, but these activities help me understand what my future students may be facing.”
In addition to the discussion forum questions, the program includes projects that help prepare students to become competent EAs. One of the truly “ah-ha moments” in the course requires students to become familiar with a specific disability assigned to them by the instructor. This is a team-based project where students are paired up to create a brochure and a detailed presentation on disabilities such as anxiety, autism, Down syndrome, and conduct disorder. Like all of the learning, assignments, and projects in the program, this brochure will serve as an important resource in the field. And the entire class gets access to each other’s brochures so that all students can benefit from the information!
Connections with instructors and classmates
Stenberg EA alumni, Philippa Glossop, thought she would prefer in-class delivery before enrolling. However, because she wanted to continue working part-time, she ultimately chose online. “I wasn’t sure if distance learning was for me, but once I was online, there were so many opportunities to engage and collaborate.”
So many of today’s relationships are developed and maintained online through social media that it shouldn’t be surprising that online learning can be highly effective and social. In our online programs, students build strong networks and friendships. Some of this is accomplished through online forums:
- News forum: Updates and announcements by the instructor to keep students informed.
- Q&A forum: Used for general questions related to the course. Students can post and reply to questions. Instructors will also reply within 24 hours. Quick responses allow students to continue working on assignments without delay.
- Social forum: Students can informally socialize with one another but must adhere to rules of netiquette. Students can use this forum to set up study groups, encourage one another, and share stories – a community space.
- Discussion forum: Where students will complete and discuss activities with classmates and their instructor. Feedback is given by the instructor and classmates.
Forums are not the only social opportunity in this program. You might be surprised at how engaging the instructor is during the weekly 1-hour lecture. Students are talked with, not at. Natalie teaches conversationally, sharing her vast knowledge and experiences, and doesn’t just read off the lecture slides. There’s also a chat box where students can communicate with each other or ask Natalie questions, which she will respond to during the lecture. While it’s comparable to an in-person lecture, it may be even more engaging, and if you didn’t quite understand an important concept, hit play again.
Stenberg’s Education Assistant distance Diploma is designed to be completed online from the comfort of your home. The course content is easily accessible, well organized, and highly structured, making it easy for students to schedule and manage their time.
One of the main reasons prospective students don’t go back to school is a lack of time. We get it. It can be difficult, and many other responsibilities may take priority. However, online learning makes balancing work, home life, and school totally doable. With the support provided by your instructor and classmates and the flexibility to organize schoolwork around your personal schedule, you can make your education fit in with your life.
Invest in yourself
Although distance learning can fit into anyone’s schedule, it requires time and effort to succeed. But learning can be fun, especially when you are passionate about your future career!
Stenberg’s online delivery program offers students all the perks of an in-class environment with the added convenience of tailoring your commitments around schoolwork. You can study entirely online with the best available learning tools while connecting with classmates and participating in subject-specific discussions. Learning to communicate within this sphere and navigate its tools will provide you with lifelong skills that you can use to help your future students reach their full potential.
Stenberg’s online delivery program offers students all the perks of an in-class environment with the added convenience of tailoring your commitments around schoolwork.
It is incredibly fulfilling to make a real difference in the life of a child, and that is what EAs do. Are you ready to start making a difference supporting students with exceptionalities? Inquire today about becoming an Education Assistant.