In the News: Are MOOCs the Key to Lifelong Learning?

July 8th, 2016 by

With the digital world presenting new opportunities and constant change, education can no longer end with a formal college degree but rather continue throughout a person’s life. MOOCs offered through institutions such as Coursera are likely the future of lifelong learning.

computer-1185637_960_720MOOCs — massive open online courses — are programs offered by a university, available to people worldwide via the internet. MOOCs are free, with some offering the option to pay a small fee in exchange for graded coursework and a certificate or credit upon completion. Courses are short and engaging, consisting of videos, readings, problems to solve and forums to facilitate discussion between students.

The skill sets required for jobs in the digital age change faster than Apple releases a new iPhone. That’s where MOOCs come in. Institutions like Coursera partner with colleges and universities to offer courses that teach both hard and soft skills. You can learn a new programming language or how to improve your interpersonal communication skills. There is also the opportunity to deviate from skill development and simply learn more about topics of interest like history or music.

In addition to career development, MOOCs make higher level education available to people who previously may not have had access. Higher level learning is no longer a privilege of the financially stable, but available to people from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

MOOCs also promote general education to people on a global scale. A MOOC course provider called edX has developed a program called Open edX which allows countries to use the edX platform to launch their own MOOCs. Countries like Saudi Arabia have used Open edX to launch education campaigns with the goal of helping women gain access to education.

Next Step Academy offers similar online courses, offering learners of any age and background knowledge about careers-in, life skills and professional development. Courses are quick, mobile and informative. To find out more about Next Step Academy, register and start taking courses, visit


In the News: Root the Robot is Changing How to Teach Code

July 1st, 2016 by

A new educational robot developed by engineers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute is changing the way students learn to code.

Root, a small hexagonal bot, magnetically glides across the vertical surface of a whiteboard. Students use the programming app Square to write code and tell Root what to do.  Square allows students and coders of different ages and abilities to create code. Elementary students can use a simple block-based graphical environment, while older students can learn traditional text-based coding. Students can toggle between the different levels, allowing them to transition easily to more advanced coding and eventually working with JavaScript.

13041000_540267342843493_5036030573229621768_oRoot can draw, erase and respond to lines drawn on the whiteboard. Root is also equipped with 15 multicolored LEDs which students can program and plays musical notes to show it’s mood and personality. Root is designed to fit in every classroom, using the whiteboard already equipped at the front of the room. The goal is to empower the next generation of coders and promote STEM fields in schools, making STEM practical, fun and interactive. Students can program Root to play games or to simply erase the board at the end of class, providing a real life example of coding in the classroom.

The Wyss team is working on a curriculum to go with Root in the classroom. The robot will be available for schools to purchase next year for about $200 each. Root doesn’t require any special setup and teachers can become coding instructors without any training.


Interested in learning more about coding? Take our quick course “Careers in Coding


In the News: Number of Homeschooled Students in the US Increasing

June 24th, 2016 by

The percentage of children being homeschooled has increased from 2.2 percent in 2003 to 3.4 percent in 2012, as reported by the US Department of Education. This may seem like a relatively small change, but that is almost a 62 percent increase within the last decade.

To help you visualize those numbers a little better, 2.2 percent of all students in the United States is 1,096,000. When that number increases to 3.4 percent, that represents 1,773,000 students. In that way, the number of homeschooled students has increased by 677,000 in less than ten years.

computer-1185626_960_720The rise of virtual learning opportunities is the main reason for the increase in students being homeschooled. There have always been parents dissatisfied with the education system, or wish to remove their children because of bullying, school violence or religious beliefs. Access to virtual learning makes it easier for these parents homeschool their children, especially for single-parent families or families where both parents work. Traditional homeschool methods typically require one parent to stay home to teach the child, but now the child has the ability to learn more independently and track his or her progress online.

Virtual learning takes the form of online classes, full time virtual charter schools or blended online learning where students combine online and classroom-based learning. These programs are flexible and allow students to work at their own pace. Advanced students can move ahead and students who struggle have the opportunity to slow down without falling behind. Coursework can be customized and tailored to the child’s needs and interests.

The number of families choosing to homeschool their children is expected to continue growing as virtual learning develops and homeschooled students continue to excel. Next Step Academy aims to be a part of that cutting edge, offering more than 70 online courses in life skills and careers-in. To find out more how you can integrate online learning into your curriculum, visit


Steps to Improve Your Writing Skills

October 16th, 2015 by


Learning how to write well is a continuous process. Sure, we learned how to spell our names in kindergarten, and we’ve all been fluent in our native language for some time now, but writing well is not the same thing as simply being able to write. Written communication is a skill that needs to be constantly fostered, and can always be improved upon. Whether you’re a Pulitzer prize-winning author or a college student with 5 term papers ahead of you, we have some great steps for you to improve your writing skills…

1.Review the basics

Reviewing basic grammar rules will help you avoid common mistakes in writing that many of us make on a regular basis. While these mistakes are common, they hurt your credibility and muddle your message. These common mistakes can be easily avoided by simply reviewing the basics we all take for granted. Refresh your memory on sentence fragments, the proper use of semicolons, and subject-verb agreement. Of course, these are  just part of the basics. Take our Basic Grammar/Writing Toolkit course to cover all your bases!

2. Change your writing process

Many of us stick to writing one draft of whatever document we are producing. Rather than producing several versions of the document, this first draft is often our final draft. Maybe we feel rushed, or maybe we are just plain old lazy about writing. Whatever the reason, this habit results in a sub-par end product that is unclear and/or filled with errors. This can easily be avoided by changing how you write. Rather than trying to spill all your ideas out at once into a cohesive document (which rarely actually works), go through the steps of writing one at a time—prewrite (brainstorm, outline, etc.), write, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite

You can also change how you revise and edit (or maybe you need start revising and editing…). Don’t just rely on spellcheck! Instead, read your writing aloud and listen to find out if it actually makes sense, ask someone else to read it or listen to you read, or print it out and make notes with a pen. The more you review, revise, and edit your writing, the better the end product will be.

3. Write more often.

No one is a perfect writer, but practice does make pretty-close-to-perfect. The more you write, the more you can hone your skills and develop your own unique voice. Make a habit of writing every day for at least 10 minutes. If you can, try to read every day, too. A great exercise to improve your writing skills is to read a newspaper/online article or blog post and rewrite it in your own words. This will boost your critical thinking and reading skills, your writing skills, and give your inspiration for what you want your own writing to be like.

For more tips on how to improve your writing, take the Next Step Academy Basic Grammar/Writing Toolkit course. 



How to get the most out of an online education

February 25th, 2015 by

SONY DSCOnline learning has increased in popularity in recent years. It’s a convenient choice for those returning to the classroom or just beginning their education. It allows people to continue to work full-time, while still being able to get an education. According to Dr. Steve Perry, a revered education expert, nearly half (45%) of the 21 million students in the United States took at least one online course.

Although it’s gaining popularity, online learners will have some challenges when pursuing their degree or certificate. Here are three tips to help make online learning effective:

1. When looking at programs, make sure to choose a school that has an up-to-date curriculum. Traditional classroom learning and technology-based learning are two very different environments. Perry suggests that an online curriculum must address these differences and prepare students for the challenges they will face in an Internet-based environment. Clearly communicated goals and learning objectives, successful use of technology and the opportunity for personal interaction with instructors and other students all point to the success of the online student. The best online program will be the one that has up-to-date curriculums that reflect the current trends happen in the desired sector.

2. Make sure to still polish life skills.  Learning online is a different environment. Since communication with instructors and peers is conducted online, learners miss out on face-to-face communication. In that way, having the ability to communicate effectively in a digital environment is an essential skill to possess before enrolling in an online learning curriculum. Also, according to Perry, 4 in 10 college graduates do not possess the complex reasoning skills to manage white-collar work. The ability to make decisions and solve problems and the ability to obtain and process relevant information are skills most desired by employers. Make sure the online program you pursue allows you to develop those skills and, if not, supplement those skills in an alternative learning platform. 

3. Stay motivated. It may be difficult to to do homework and study when going to school online. In traditional learning, distractions are set aside because students are in the classroom. While learning online, nothing is stopping students from being pulled away by other demands. In order to combat those distractions, make sure you pay attention to your syllabi which will help you plan out your study and homework schedule in advance. Try setting up a structured plan with deadlines in a planner or on a calendar. Before getting pulled away, look at what’s due and decide if time can be spent elsewhere.

> Next Step Academy offers a variety of online courses dealing with life courses. The quick and easy 10-minute courses will help improve these skills that employers expect a potential employee to have.



Do you have the time?

January 29th, 2015 by

It’s easy to dismiss those things that take time. We want everything to be quick and easy, but also fulfilling and worthwhile.

Next Step Academy is quick (when compared to some other online courses), but also rewarding. Sometimes all we need is a snippet. Just a enough information to justify that we are headed in the right direction (our “Careers In…” courses) or a refresher course in a skill we know we really should have (any of our Life Skills courses).

Here is where we think you’ll find those minutes each day to complete a course at Next Step Academy.


That seems easy! So what are you waiting for? Take a course today!


Better direction for learners everywhere

September 22nd, 2014 by

NSA-FB-logoWelcome to Next Step Academy, an online school for people of all ages at every stage in life. We are on a mission to help learners like you get where you want to be.

Ready for college? You’re in the right place to discover opportunities available to you, from career choices and program options to critical life skills like Interviewing Skills and Time Management.

Going back to school? It’s never too late to follow your dreams. Find out what it takes to earn that degree you’ve always wanted and take your career goals to new heights.

Looking for a career change? If you’ve been wanting to try something new and are ready to make a move, Next Step Academy can help you take the first step toward the life you’ve always wanted.

Not sure what you want to do? Don’t sweat it! We are here to help you figure it all out. Take a look at our extensive and ever-growing suite of courses. And, if you don’t find what you’re looking for, let us know! We just may create the course you’re looking to see.

Our exclusive online courses offer critical information and clear direction. All courses are organized into two categories:

  • Careers In” courses help facilitate intent as learners explore potential degree, program, and career opportunities.
  • Life Skills” courses help learners gain the knowledge and wisdom they need to hit the ground running both personally and professionally in order to fulfill their life’s potential.

Next Step Academy is a non-accredited educational resource. Each course is packed with valuable information and presented in an effective and engaging way. The courses are quick, easy and designed to be used across a variety of devices—including smartphones, tablets, laptops and more.

So, what are you waiting for? Register today and begin taking your next steps to a brighter future! We’re excited to be a part of your journey.


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