How Vista College Is Changing the Game for Online Education
By Dr. Art Waller, Online Campus Director
Those of us working in online education have always had a difficult task in front of us: how do we give students the skills they need for the career they want, all over a digital framework. Two and a half years ago, we decided to take this challenge head-on by throwing out the old playbook and adopting a fresh, new approach to our online degree programs.
We wanted to come up with a better way for what we do and how we do it. It didn’t make any sense for us to keep using the same methods that traditional institutions have been shackled to for decades: hire a professor, let them set up the curricula to teach a course, and then have them repeat as-is without really looking at whether it’s working for the individual student or furthering them along their career path. As long as you sat in the classroom and passed the professor’s test, then you must know the material well enough to apply it, right?
Not always. And we here at Vista College weren’t willing to stake our students’ lives and futures on a maybe. Our solution was to implement evidence-based learning in our online programs.
What do I mean when I say “evidence-based learning”? That term gets thrown around a lot, including by the traditional colleges and universities I talked about above. But oftentimes, those courses are taught the same way, year-in and year-out, with the only assessment being internal exams.
Vista College embraces the true idea behind evidenced-based instruction. It means:
- We utilize teaching methods that have been subjected to peer research and review and proven to be effective in the classroom.
- We empower our faculty to check in consistently with each student throughout the length of the course and adapt their strategies if they find someone isn’t quite grasping a particular learning objective or competency.
- We employ an advisory committee of business owners and outside experts to keep us appraised of industry trends so we can constantly reevaluate learning objectives and ensure students are getting the best out of their education.
But beyond the theory behind evidence-based learning is the strategy. Vista College takes a triangular approach, starting at the top with the question of assessment. Namely, how are we checking that our students are learning what we want them to learn?
Instead of relying solely on internal checks, we take it one step further. We believe so much in the education we provide that we use an independent third-party, one completely separate from our school, to assess how we’re doing. They evaluate what our students learn, so at the end of the day, we have independent, unbiased evidence that the people in our programs walk out knowing the objectives, outcomes, and competencies we want them to.
The second and third parts of our evidence-based learning triangle look at the classroom itself. On one side of it, we have the faculty — making sure we know not just who is teaching our students, but how they are engaging with them, how they are focusing course content, and how they adjust to different learning styles and needs. On the other side, we have the resources that our students use every day. We keep up-to-date on the latest educational tools and technologies that help optimize learning, because we know how critical it is for our students to have the kind of media that will keep them engaged.
When you enroll in an online program at Vista College, you get education as it ought to be: an interactive, dynamic experience that adapts both to you as an individual and the job market as a whole. An education that stands up to rigorous review and outside evaluation and actively builds a bridge between learning an objective in theory and putting it into practice in real-life settings. An education where every aspect, from enrollment to graduation, works in tandem to support Vista College’s primary goal: to get you Day 1 Ready to advance in some of the fastest-growing careers in the U.S.
It’s more than just our mission statement; it’s our driving vision. And we’ve got the evidence to back it up.
Ready to learn more? Check out our Online Campus!