Link-Systems International: A Holistic Student-Centric Approach To E-Learning
Vincent Forese, President & CEO With the advent of the Internet, e-learning as a concept was first introduced in the mid-nineties and since then has been accepted as a medium of education in many academic institutions worldwide. However, its adoption was slow until the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which acted as a catalyst for rapid digital transformation, making it a ubiquitous feature of the formal education system. Many academic institutions found the sudden transition to online learning modules challenging, as it was still a relatively new approach to imparting education to its students. Furthermore, the implementation of e-learning has also transformed the role of faculty members from the traditional teacher-centered to a more student-centric model. As students’ needs grew, academic institutions aimed to provide students with greater access to online support services similar to or identical to the assistance they would receive on campus in a 'face-to-face' environment.
To this end, Link-Systems International, a market-leading educational technology company, has developed several unique and effective digital solutions to address the required essentialities of teaching-learning in the current education system. Established in 1995, based in Tampa, Florida, Link-Systems International (LSI) has been at the forefront of helping academic institutions quickly pivot to online tools using robust and cost-effective platforms that facilitate the sharing of content over the Internet. Although no two services are alike, online tutoring services are generally designed to provide students with convenient, easy-to-use, and integrated support. Despite its many advantages, institutions often struggle with technical aspects and increasing costs associated with providing online tutoring services. In this highly competitive segment of the educational technology marketplace, LSI’suniqueness is rooted in its holistic, student-centered approach, where support functions are combined into a single, unified process overseen by education professionals. “We are dedicated to helping our academic partners meet their student engagement, retention and success goals with our full range of technology solutions and proven strategies,” explains Vincent Forese, President & CEO of Link-Systems International.
Enriching Virtual Learning with a Full Range of Education Tools
The student-centered suite of interoperable LSI products and services is designed to overcome student persistence and retention challenges throughout the student life cycle. LSI partners include K12 schools & districts, colleges and universities, academic consortia & systems, K12 & highered learning companies, tech companies, and joint labor-management programs dedicated to providing online educational content to members of organized labor and their families.“Link-Systems is more than an outstanding vendor; they are a partner to the learning assistance community and a collaborator in serving our students. Their student-centric philosophy is evident with student service solutions that are inclusive, accessible, equitable, and sustainable,” says Ted Blake, President, Association of Colleges for Tutoring and Learning Assistance (ACTLA).
The company’s suite consists of three primary products - NetTutor, Pisces, and Sofia. Eachoffering can work together in conjunction with each other or independently as stand-alone solutions.
NetTutor is an award-winning online tutoring service in partnerships with academic institutions that mirrors or supplements support services offered in schools, colleges, and universities. A unique aspect of NetTutor is its commitment to tailoring customized online tutoring guidelines for tutor-and-student interaction. If, for instance, an institution wants online tutoring to act as an extension of its on-ground tutoring and support services, this can be arranged. The company’s online tutoring service is tailored to the needs of each student and accessible 24 hrs, all days of the week. Experts at LSI work with an institution’s faculty and staff to create rules of engagement, obtain syllabi and other course materials relevant to their students. The tutoring team works under the direct and constant supervision of the director and tutoring managers who monitor and ensure high-quality services from tutoring labs in Tampa, FL and Tempe, AZ. All LSI tutors receive initial and ongoing training in implementing best practices for online tutoring. A hallmark of the NetTutor service is that the tutors meet every student where they are at their moment of need— with an unwavering commitment to quality, inclusivity, and accessibility. Tutors use the Socratic method to engage students in dialogue and empathize with students. In this way, NetTutor empowers students to develop critical-thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and the capacity to work independently. In addition, NetTutor is seamlessly integrated with any learning management system at no extra charge to the client and delivers 24-hour customer support in English and Spanish. The Pisces platform brings the convenience of online collaboration to students by extending the reach of campus support. From office hours and group projects to tutoring and peer study sessions, Pisces empowers institutions to provide online education services by supporting distance education best practices and accreditation requirements. Alongside best-in-class web conferencing tools designed for education such as audio, video, drawing canvas/ shapes, and screen sharing, it includes academic collaboration enhancements that encourage learners to communicate ideas and solutions intuitively. With Pisces, institutions have the flexibility to design personalized online student services and academic support programs that work best for their students.
Lastly, Sofia combines the convenience of auto-graded math and English homework and the affordability of online education resources in a single platform. As the cost of education rises, institutions look to help students cut-down expenses on course materials and resources. With over 12,500 assessment items, Sofia offers algorithmic math across the curriculum spanning arithmetic through Calculus and Statistics, plus English from grammar through composition. It lessens an institution’s dependence on expensive textbooks or study materials. Using Sofia for math and English assignments gives faculty and instructional designers freedom of curricular choice without having to rebuild all of the assignments. To students, a Sofia assignment looks like every other assignment with its unmatched depth of integration within Canvas and Brightspace means students and faculty work entirely within the LMS.
Its integration requires no complicated programmingor assistance; install and use, making it an ideal homework platform for students and teachers alike. “With full access to all math test banks from grade six through college in Sofia. Instructors can assign practice to help students bridge the gaps caused by COVID learning slide. Between teachers who know their students best and Sofia’s learning aids that offer just-in-time help, including access to a live tutor at that moment of need, Sofia supports students as they attempt to overcome learning challenges, balance competing priorities, and pursue their educational goals," explains LSI President Vincent Forese.
Dedicated to Facilitating High-Quality Student Engagement
E-Learning has played a pivotal role in helping all levels of students and academic institutions as they dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially shaping a whole new paradigm for the ed-tech industry. As the world is on the cusp of recovery, school bells summoned students back to classrooms that had stood empty for the previous year and a half. While some students return to classrooms and catch up on unfinished learning, others fall further behind, widening pre-pandemic gaps. As academic institutions attempt to balance their efforts to continue limiting disruptions while supporting student recovery, online learning can be a cost-effective solution to level the increasingly unequal access to education and opportunity.
We Are Dedicated To Helping Our Academic Partners Meet Their Student Engagement, Retention And Success Goals With Our Full Range Of Technology Solutions And Proven Strategies
Since its inception, LSI has gone to great lengths to align its solutions with students’ current needs and challenges, helping students and academic institutions achieve measurably better learning outcomes. “The Link-Systems leadership team has consistently approached our relationship as truly collaborative partners, and they have demonstrated an ongoing stake in our success. Their focus on putting student success first and appreciation for input from our stakeholders has fuelled a collaborative partnership that allows us to effectively serve students from a diverse set of colleges and demographics. I can say unequivocally that Link-Systems’ student service solutions, specifically NetTutor and Pisces, have significantly improved our ability to support online student success and meet student equity goals.” - Jory Hadsell, EdD, Vice Chancellor, Foothill – De Anza Community College District and Executive Sponsor, CVC-OEI (www.cvc.edu). In collaboration with its education partners, the company makes research-based, data-driven decisions to further innovation in its efforts to develop cost-effective edtech products and services that empower students to become successful learners. LSI was the first educational technology company to offer a high-quality online tutoring service that integrates a proprietary, state-of-the-art whiteboard specifically designed for online learning. The company plans to remain true to their steadfast commitment to student success by continuing to expand services where help is needed.