How our online courses work
Students have the flexibility to start any of Sevenstar’s courses on any Monday of the year. Once a student is enrolled in an online course, they will receive an email containing their login credentials and start-up instructions. Each student uses a temporary password to log in to their online classroom for the first time, but will be able to change their password later. The course environment is designed to be visually pleasing and intuitive. To ensure that students can access lesson tools and materials on their device, a system check is conveniently available on our login page.
Student orientation is provided at the beginning of each of our online courses. New students are taught all the information they need to be successful during orientation, while experienced students will be able to complete the orientation in minutes. The student orientation concludes with a short test confirming students are knowledgeable about the course and asking them to introduce themselves to their instructor.
Our student orientation ensures that students have the tools they need to succeed in their course. It shows students how to navigate their course, complete their work, and contact their instructor or get technical support. It also makes students aware of policies, procedures, and expectations.
Online classroom experience
Before students begin their first day as online learners, they are introduced to their online instructor through a welcome email. As students begin their coursework, they will use the skills they perfected during orientation to navigate the course and interact with course material. Online lesson content is engaging and interactive, while also providing all the academic resources and accountability needed to thrive.
Our online courses are designed to teach concepts, provide practice problems, and deliver assignments and assessments. Students will take each assessment one time to test mastery of the material presented. Even though course content is primarily delivered through the online lessons and not by the online instructor, students interact regularly with their instructor by providing feedback on assessments and assignments. The online instructor’s role is not to lecture or tutor as in a traditional classroom, but rather to provide support and guidance to students throughout the course.
Our instructors engage students through discussion forums, course email, and scheduled calls and chats. They also support students by answering questions related to the subject matter, grading non-computerized assessments, providing appropriate feedback, and encouraging students to stay on pace.
Assignment due dates and breaks
Students are expected to stay on pace and work independently to complete their coursework. Target due dates for each assignment and assessment are provided to help students stay on track. Due dates are automatically generated based on the start and end date of the course. There will be breaks during the year when no assignments will be due and no new assignments will be scheduled for completion. If needed, students may use these breaks to complete coursework, submit assignments, and take exams. To avoid late penalties, students will need to submit assignments within 14 days of the target due date.
Students will not have target due dates and instructors are not required to respond, grade, or conduct office hours on the following dates:
- Saturdays and Sundays
- Easter break (Observed from the Thursday before through the Monday following Easter)
- Memorial Day (Observed the last Monday of May.)
- Independence Day (Observed on the fourth day of July. If Independence Day falls on a Saturday, it will be observed on the Friday prior to. If it falls on a Sunday, it will be observed the Monday following Independence Day.)
- Labor Day (Observed the first Monday in September.)
- Thanksgiving break (Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday of November. The break will include the Wednesday prior to and the Friday following Thanksgiving.)
- Christmas break (Observed for two weeks around December 25th and January 1st with the goal of returning to coursework on January 3rd.)
Technical problems sometimes arise even when students are surrounded by assistance, training, and resources. Sevenstar’s learning environment features a searchable “help” knowledge base, which is accessible not only through our online course system (Maestro), but also by clicking an icon link that is available on each page of our online courses. Our User Support Portal provides students with quick answers and downloadable resources to get immediate assistance on common issues. It also provides steps to take if these resources do not answer their questions, including the submission of a ticket to request assistance from a live support specialist.
One commonality between online and classroom education is that parental involvement plays a big role in academic success. Encouragement, accountability, and support are necessary for student achievement at every school. In an online learning environment, parents have an even larger responsibility to provide structure and organization at home than students receiving an education within a school building.
As a Christian parent, your role is to lovingly enforce rules and raise your child according to Christian principles. Ephesians 6:4 commands parents to “bring [your children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”—in other words, to discipline them, teach them, model to them, and love them in such a way that they learn to love God above all else, to trust Him, and to obey Him.
With online education, you get to make more choices and exercise greater control, but that also means a greater level of involvement than delegating education to instructors and staff at a traditional school. While we can provide curriculum, instructors, and structure, parents still need to assist with homework, communicate with instructors, and motivate their child to stay on pace and reach academic goals. We can’t do it without you, nor would we want to!
Instructor interaction and grading
If your school opts to use an online instructor provided by Sevenstar, our instructors will respond to questions within 24 hours and grade assignments within 48 hours of submission (this does not include weekends). The student and instructor will communicate through graded assignments, regular email, and phone or Skype at least monthly.
As the student participates in coursework, a contracted and certified instructor will interact with them in order to ensure a successful learning experience.
While not a lecturer or tutor, the instructor will grade assignments, give constructive feedback, and answer any questions their students may have.
Students can also expect their instructors to record grades to build their transcript. Here are the types of interaction you can expect to receive from your instructor:
- A welcome email
- A welcome call (scheduled by the student)
- A response to emails within 24 hours (not counting weekends)
- Grading of assignments within 48 hours (not counting weekends)
- Up to two Phone/Skype calls per month (scheduled by the student)
- The issuing of a final grade
- Student grades
Reports and secure exams
To maintain academic integrity, all semester exams are required to be proctored by an adult selected by the enrolling party (either family and/or school).
Prior to and/or during each exam, the proctor will:
- Review Sevenstar’s academic integrity policy and monitor student adherence to it.
- Provide a distraction free environment for student testing.
- Ensure instructions are followed and only approved materials are utilized.
- Verify the identity of the student taking the semester exam.
We are often asked the following question:
“What prevents students taking online classes in a remote location from cheating on their online exams?”
By reading the following explanation, you will discover why students find it so hard to cheat in our online exams and why they so often get caught if they try.
Online exam philosophy
Online examinations in Sevenstar courses are not simply “face-to-face” classroom tests transferred to the Internet. Exams are designed specifically for an online environment. This means that the medium and delivery has been considered and designed into the actual exam. Exams are not simply the regurgitation of facts, or rote memorization that can be manipulated by cutting and pasting. These exams are driven by the concepts of critical thinking.
Exams use question banks of many more questions than need to be delivered at any one time. For example, an exam of 20 questions will be “fed” by a question bank of more than 100 questions. Students taking the same exam at the same time are rarely going to see the same questions, because the question bank is randomly generating questions for each student. This goes a long way to prevent cheating.
Perhaps the best and simplest way to combat academic dishonesty is to inform students from the beginning about the high level of reporting and oversight that online instructors have regarding their progress and movement within the course. An instructor can generate a report on what students are doing in the course. Instructors can identify when the student has logged in and review how long they spent reviewing content, completing assignments, and taking exams. The system detects when the student is no longer active to prevent students from visiting a page to act like they were working. This knowledge discourages students from attempting to be dishonest.
Conditional release of content
Instructors can create learning paths within their courses that will protect, release, and hide content in order to encourage academic integrity, honesty, and achievement. For example, instructors can hide all quizzes and tests until the students have completed the lessons leading to a module exam. Then, when the student is ready for the exam, only the exam itself will be visible within the course. The instructor could set the system so that the student cannot see the exam ahead of time and cannot see any of the lesson material once the exam has begun. Conditional release of content is taught to all instructors in our standard instructor orientation course.