Northstar Introduces Online Learning!Tom Cytron-Hysom, Consultant
Northstar Digital Literacy, a program of Literacy Minnesota, is releasing a new online learning platform, Northstar Online Learning. NSOL provides online instruction and practice exercises for independent distance learning. The first release covers Computer Basics, and will be released in late February, with additional modules to be released over the coming months.
NSOL provides the ability for testing locations to create individual learner accounts, which include direct links to online instruction and practice resources as well as a list of completed assessments with scores for the student. Individual accounts also offer links to all online instruction and practice resources.
Testing location staff can track their progress in both the lessons and the corresponding assessments. Sites can view the NSOL progress of all learners registered through their testing location. There is a robust reporting mechanism for ABE programs wanting to claim proxy hours for out-of-class work completed by students via NSOL.
NSOL will have many advantages for students. NSOL and the Northstar assessments are both based on the same standards defining what people need to know to succeed in using computers and the internet. It saves student work and shows their progress. Students can check their understanding with review questions. Testing location staff can more easily support students in their learning. After taking an assessment, student results will be saved to their NSOL accounts. There, they can compare their assessment results to their practice progress and understand which standards still need improvement, and which practice lessons will help master them.
NSOL is the second major curriculum resource released by Northstar in recent months. Comprehensive classroom curricula have been released for Computer Basics, Internet, Email, Words, Windows, and Mac OS, with others in preparation. There are 7-9 lessons for each module, each two hours long, and aligned to Northstar standards, to support adult learners in meeting the requirements to pass the Northstar Assessments (which are ABE content standards in Minnesota). Selected NSOL instruction and practice resources are also being integrated into classroom lesson plans for optional use in-class.
Both Northstar Online Learning and the Classroom Curricula are available only to test locations, as opposed to the free public site.
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