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When we first released LaunchPad, one thing we would always talk about are the 'curated units'. For Macmillan, this means that within each chapter of the book (and ebook), we select or create high quality resources that go with that chapter and appear within the unit structure. Those resources might be LearningCurve quizzes or videos or multi-media activities, depending on the book or LaunchPad in question. With just a few clicks, you can assign all of these resources for the chapter at once, trusting that the curator has done just what you would do in your class.


Now that LaunchPad has been out for a while, we know that not everyone wants to use these units. We survey students and instructors at the end of every semester and at the end of the Fall 2015 semester, 35% of instructors told us that they don't use the pre-built units, but rather create their course from scratch. Depending on how your course is organized and which assets you want to use, this makes a lot of sense for some people.


So how would you do this? It's very easy! First go to the Instructor Console and then click on General, Navigation, and LaunchPad Settings. Then select LaunchPad from the menu on the left and you will see the option to "Remove these units from your course?"


Remove Units.png


Once the units have been removed, you can then go and create your own units (maybe you organize by week or module or topic, instead of chapter) and then you can go to the resources and add in just the items you want (maybe you just want the ebook and LearningCurve or maybe you just want the video assignments you've created). In this way, you can completely customize the course the way you want to. And don't worry, if you remove those units, you can always add them back in by going back to the same spot and select "Add these units to your course." For more detailed instructions, check out the online user guide or talk to one of our Digital Solutions Specialists to find out which approach makes sense for your course.

My husband and I have this long-standing discussion where we talk about famous people that we'd like to have over for dinner. There are some great athletes that I think would be terrible dinner companions, even if I do like and support them in their profession. Steph Curry, however, seems like a great guy to have over for dinner. There was a little article about him in Sports Illustrated that mentioned, among other things, how he responded to a teenage fan who was just diagnosed with bone cancer. I don't think there is any way to teach someone how to talk to strangers with kindness and compassion; it's just something you either can or cannot do and it appears that Steph Curry has that skill in spades. For that reason alone, it is worth supporting Steph Curry this year.

I've been traveling and visiting programs interested in Writer's Help a lot over the past few months. Many writing programs have expressed interest in the writing in the disciplines coverage, and I love showing how each disciplinary writing section in Writer's Help 2.0: Hacker version includes a discussion of:

  • questions posed by that discipline
  • what counts as evidence
  • writing conventions

Since WH is at its core a research project, I've been asking more questions about how students approach their writing problems when completing writing assignments for other courses. I wanted to share some of the cross-disciplinary search terms students have used in the past:

  • "how do doctors write"
  • "double-blind"
  • "original contribution"
  • "project statement"
  • "scientific study"
  • "presentation of results"
  • "how to create an appendix"
  • "orthopedic writing"
  • "writing in education field"
  • "for engineers"

So in an effort to find more topics that inspire me, a friend suggested that I check out some TED Talks. (Thanks, Jen!) She had one in particular, but I decided to start by reviewing talks on education. As the parent of a 9-year-old girl, I found this one by Reshma Saujani on Teach Girls Bravery Not Perfection to be particularly interesting. And I found some of her stories resonated with me, especially after my daughter was the only girl in her session of robotics camp last year. Let's hope we can recruit some more in 2016--and we'll get work on that coding next.


In the past 8 years we've had literally millions of students use LearningCurve. It is consistently one of their favorite parts of LaunchPad, and our most frequently assigned 'asset'. We are thrilled to announce that for Fall of 2016 LearningCurve will be updated - to learn about the details and to see our slick new interface check out this screencast. LearningCurve Marketing Video for Fall 2016 - YouTube 

I was trying to consistently write about something inspiring, but I hit a wall in February. None of the books I read were particularly inspiring (even though I liked some of them quite a bit). The news and political coverage are not inspiring to me. Even the weather (and winter) where I live have been depressing. But just this week, things took at turn for the better--and the word is new.


I have a fun new project that I'm working on, where I have to learn a lot of new stuff and use my brain to assess it all. I am learning a new technology, which is inspiring me to re-think the way I work. And, best of all, I decided to try a new approach to some marketing emails that I sent out and, despite the fact that they aren't particularly well written haikus, I'm getting lots of good feedback for trying something fun and new. So that's what's inspiring me today: trying something new.


And even if that means trying a new flavor of ice cream or wearing a new outfit that you think isn't "you", I recommend you do it anyhow. What's the worst that could happen? (Okay, don't go there, but it really probably isn't that big of a risk in the whole scheme of things.) Go new!