Constellation, Ashford University's suite of innovative electronic textbooks, has been recognized in the 2011 Horizon Report, a respected publication that identifies emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on higher education. Technologies are examined for their potential in teaching, learning and creative inquiry.
Bridgepoint Education, Inc. (NYSE: BPI), a provider of post secondary education services and Ashford's parent company, launched Constellation on April 29, 2010. The Horizon Report, co-produced by Educause and the New Media Consortium, showcases it as an example of "innovative work going on among learning-focused institutions." The report is published annually and has more than 600,000 readers in 70 countries.
Technologies featured in the report are placed among adoption time frames for mainstream use. Constellation, included in the "one year or less category," demonstrates how electronic books are successfully being used in higher education settings today.
"Hundreds of institutions vie for recognition in the report, but only a few are selected as exemplars of specific technologies in higher education," said Elizabeth Aguiar, Bridgepoint Education vice president of Learning Resources and Publishing. "It's an honor to be included among the ranks of Amazon, Stanford University Medical School and Rochester Institute of Technology."
Created and maintained by Ashford University, Constellation is a compilation of interactive web-based course materials. Developed exclusively for Ashford University students, course materials include textbooks and essential readings; audio and video programs; interactive exercises; and supplements organized in a purposeful way to support the learning process.
Materials are displayed in a proprietary, browser-based reader. Students may access them on their computers or mobile devices, such as iPhone, Kindle and iPad. Students are free to use their course materials in any way they wish. They can listen to the audio versions, download to multiple devices, print without restriction, keep for future reference or share with colleagues.
"It's my salvation," Yvette Tait, 54, an Ashford University student earning her bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies, said. "It's convenient and comprehensive. Constellation is easy to access, downloading is quick and all the information is in sync with the class." Tait, a Cocoa, Fla. resident, has plans to become an environmental engineer.
Constellation content is customized for Ashford University students and designed to reflect the institution's curriculum, learning objectives and outcomes. Materials are developed by Ashford University faculty and other leading experts in their fields who must have previous writing and teaching experience.
The process is managed by an editorial team responsible for engaging qualified authors to write text for the courses. The team then leads the process from a rough draft to an academically sound finished product tailored to course objectives.
Currently, 11 Ashford University courses use Constellation. Plans call for creating many more digital books over the next two years, to include general education and foundation courses for various majors.
"Many institutions offer electronic books and incorporate some of their digital assets into learning platforms. Constellation is exceptional in that it provides unprecedented access to all materials, including textbooks," Aguiar said. "The Constellation team is a blend of brains, talent and intellectual curiosity between developers who created the Constellation Reader and the editorial group who create the content."
Aguiar adds that Constellation supports Ashford University's mission to provide affordable, accessible, high quality, higher education. "Constellation materials replace third-party textbooks, which have typically cost online students $100 per course. Constellation costs $75 per course," she said. "Constellation demonstrates that technological innovation in the digital age can be applied to bring our students easier access to important resources whenever they want, plus provide great educational value."
Visit https://content.ashford.edu/horizon for more information and a tutorial.
About Bridgepoint Education
Bridgepoint Education's postsecondary education services focus on offering associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in such disciplines as business, education, psychology, social sciences and health sciences. Bridgepoint Education's regionally accredited academic institutions – Ashford University and University of the Rockies – deliver their programs online as well as at traditional campuses located in Clinton, Iowa, and Colorado Springs, Colorado. For more information about Bridgepoint Education, visit www.bridgepointeducation.com or call Shari Rodriguez, associate vice president of Public Relations at 858.668.2580.
About Ashford University
Founded in 1918, Ashford University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (www.ncahlc.org). The University offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs online and at its Clinton, Iowa, campus. The University is known for its high quality yet highly affordable online and on-campus programs. For more information, please visit www.ashford.edu or call Shari Rodriguez, associate vice president of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.