Quick Query: Full Sail Educator on Online Learning

There are various choices for ecommerce merchants who wish to learn new skills which could be applied to their organization. Full Sail University is just one of those online alternatives. Having a physical campus in Winter Park, Florida, the college offers online applications in areas like web design and development. With this “Quick Query” we talked with Ani Gasti, Full Sail’s director of faculty development.

Practical eCommerce:Tell us about Full Sail University. What degrees do you offer that would benefit an ecommerce merchant?

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Ani Gasti: “For the ecommerce merchant, there are some really obvious degrees I think. We have just graduated our first class of students in our master’s degree for Internet advertising. So, undoubtedly, Internet marketing is a place that is logical for an ecommerce professional. We provide that both for the bachelor’s and the master’s degree, but it is offered online only. There are some additional areas or degree areas which make sense I believe for ecommerce merchants like web design and development and visual arts for graphic design. But actually I think any of our level areas make sense for someone in the field of ecommerce because nowadays you are using all those tools for promotion. You use video and music and games and all of the various multimedia which we teach at Full Sail in some manner or another in every area of ecommerce.

PeC: The online advertising degree focuses on things like SEO and social media and analytics. Who are the specialists that you call on to teach these topics?

Gasti:“We need to satisfy our certification requirements, so in our master’s level we must have people at the doctoral level teaching or at least half of the school has to be at a doctoral degree. All the college in Internet marketing are fulltime, residing in Winter Park or the area of Orlando. Many have a shake which they hang out there and they are working as consultants. Consequently, they’re practicing Web marketers themselves and therefore the pupils are involved in the procedure. They are helping out these faculty members that do consulting work. Therefore, it’s really very good experience and it is very applied daily.”

PeC: What do you do to make sure that the online learning experience is at least as good as a conventional education?

Gasti:“Among the things we did at the start when we’re considering going on the internet, we thought,’Well, let us do our due diligence and study the present learning management.’ So, you might be familiar with terms such as eCollege or Blackboard and with all due respect to these entities, they did not deliver education in how we like to deliver it. Thus, we bit the bullet and decided to build our own online learning platform. And what we’re able to do that is address some of the greatest weaknesses of conventional online education. A couple of the large ones are a feeling of isolation on the student part and the perceived limit of what online education can be. And so, in designing our own learning management system, we built it in such a way that the pupils are very connected to their teachers, to one another and to the school itself. So a lot of online education is much more like a digital correspondence program. We built it to provide education using all of the multimedia tools on the internet that we use on campus. I’ve had many pupils say actually that they’re more engaged and connected within this internet degree of Full Sail than they were in their previous courses somewhere else.”

PeC: several ecommerce merchants are so occupied with their daily operations which –if they have something they have to learn– they may visit YouTube and look for a tutorial. That is absolutely free. Or they take one course offered via a website like Lynda.com. What’s the benefit of Full Sail over either one of these choices?

Gasti: Well, first of all, allow me to say that I think those choices are terrific and we use them. We use those in our classes. We’ve got courses where the students–as a part of the class material–get a lynda.com account, and our faculty members have their own YouTube stations and we utilize the present free stuff out there also. But it’s only part of the picture. The use of education, I believe, is to put everything into perspective. I love to use this case. One could say, ‘Why study French literature? All of the French novels are already out there.’ However, the education part is teaching you how you can talk French and read and write it and then to learn what’s the purpose, the significance and the background of all this. That is what we do with all our degrees. We teach the tools, but we put it into a larger context and provide a perspective and a feeling of what the value of all of this is and what is my role in this for the pupil.”

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“With Internet advertising, I think there has been a history of people learning parlor tricks. You learn what is the latest tricky thing to do with SEO, as an instance, and that’s excellent. That may help your organization to a certain degree, but we think Web marketing is a profession. So, yes, learn the tools and the tricks, but in addition, you have to be a strategic thinker in your area, your industry, so as to create a mark and become the most successful that you could be.”

PeC: Anything else you want to share with the ecommerce merchant?

Gasti:“The entire world is becoming more interactive and more collaborative and entrepreneurs will need to be sure they’re doing this as well. 1 thing that we’ve performed at Full Sail is to have an extensive use of web 2.0 tools and use them as teachers ourselves. Our students use them as students in the projects they perform, and our graduates–our working students–use these tools as professionals. I only want to thank them for being the backbone of the economy–the tiny businesses which are keeping things moving. At Full Sail, we do what we can to offer the education, resources and training for our students to follow the exact same entrepreneurial path. Our objective isn’t just to own graduates, but to have happy, successful graduates.”