Over the past seven years the profile of our students have changed to such an extent that 82,8% of our current students are distance learners. During the early years of ATS 100% of our students were full-time: we knew their names, faces and their voices. We could recognise when the Holy Spirit was working with a student and many times a class was stopped so that the group could pray for a pressing need or spontaneously start to worship the Lord. (If you were part of ATS and have a testimony in this regard please share it in the comments below)
The fact that the majority of our students are not in front of us on a daily basis is frustrating to us, as we know what they are missing. Yet, we understand the reality we are faced with and we have made it our personal goal to overcome this challenge.
Orientation weeks, seminars, Saturday classes and newsletters are all ways that we aim to better accommodate the needs of our students. One strategy, however, that has eluded us for some time is an online e-learning platform. We’ve investigated popular e-learning platforms such as Moodle, BlackBoard and Oracle but all these systems were found to be too cluttered with features, not user-friendly and not solving our students’ needs.
We wanted a solution that provides a place where we (students and lecturers) could all meet, read, write, view and learn together.
The ATS-team is very excited: we have recently launched the pilot of our e-learning platform called StudyBuddy.
The outcomes we set out to achieve with StudyBuddy are, to:
- Address a feeling of isolation that result from students struggling on their own, having no contact with or input from lectures and fellow students.
- Help motivate students.
- Assist students in effectively pacing their studies so that they finish their preparations in time.
- Facilitate social learning.
- Foster better understanding of the work.
StudyBuddy is intuitive to use, works on mobile phones and is beautiful.