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Jonathan Bratt

Requesting New Content

Posted by Jonathan Bratt May 31, 2016

The Sapling Learning content library contains a broad selection of high-quality questions, but there will likely be times that you can’t quite find the problem you’re looking for. When this happens, one of your options is to submit a request to our content team.


When we receive a request for a new problem, we first decide whether it would be a valuable addition to our library. If we determine that the problem would be a good addition, one of our subject matter experts writes it out in detail. The problem is written in full Sapling Learning style, including a complete solution and specific feedback. Next, the problem goes through at least two stages of internal review to ensure accuracy and quality. After passing review, the problem is added to our library.


From start to finish, this process typically takes about one week per problem, depending on the complexity of the problem. Questions involving graphics will generally take longer.


In 2015, about 80 of the new questions that we added to the physics and astronomy libraries were written in response to requests from instructors. Some of our best content has originated this way, so please keep the requests coming!

Before a new question goes “live” in the Sapling Learning physics library, it must first pass a rigorous internal review process. However, the question’s journey of improvement doesn’t end there. After a question begins to be read and answered by students, issues with it may become apparent. Sometimes, an instructor will suggest a correction or improvement to an existing question. When this happens, we evaluate and implement the changes as soon as we can. For minor edits, these fixes are often applied the same day.


Our internal content experts also work to identify and fix potential issues with existing questions. Each year, we compile comprehensive statistics on the performance of every question in our content library. Questions are ranked by how often they are assigned by instructors, how frequently students gave up or answered incorrectly, and many other criteria. Based on this data, certain questions are selected for revision or replacement.


We take the quality of our content very seriously, and it is our goal to be continually improving our existing questions, along with writing new ones. Your feedback is an important part of this process, so please don’t hesitate to contact us with your comments or suggestions.

We wanted to share some resources showing how easy it is to copy your integrated LMS and LaunchPad or Writer's Help course. This makes it simple when teaching multiple sections or the same class next term.


We will also be hosting a series of webinars between Tuesday, May 17th and Thursday, May 18th that will walk through these steps and allow for the opportunity to ask questions specific to your course needs. Sign up for one below!




Watch our videos on:


View our full Canvas, D2L, or Blackboard integration video series.




Copying your Integrated D2L and LaunchPad or Writer's Help Course

Tuesday, May 17th at 12:00 pm

Register here


Copying your Integrated Canvas and LaunchPad or Writer's Help Course

Wednesday, May 18th at 12:00 pm

Register here


Copying your Integrated Blackboard and LaunchPad or Writer's Help Course:

Thursday, May 19th at 11:00 am EDT

Register here

Every question written for the Sapling Learning Introductory Biology, Genetics, or Anatomy and Physiology Libraries goes through an extensive process to ensure the highest possible quality and accuracy. All of the people who contribute to content development—authors, content reviewers, and final reviewers—are experienced educators with either a Masters or PhD in the biological sciences. At minimum, each question receives 4 hours of attention from one of your peers.

Our authors spend three to five hours in the initial authoring process, which includes researching how the topic is covered by most textbooks and writing the question, answer choices, hint, and solution. For each question, the author must also predict the most common errors a student might make and provide targeted feedback for each error. Next, a content reviewer spends at least 1 hour reviewing the question for its pedagogy and factual accuracy. A copy editor then looks over the question to ensure correct spelling and grammar. Finally, our content lead oversees the entirety of the subject and checks the question one last time.

As the semester winds down, it’s time to confirm that you have your LaunchPad gradebook set up exactly how you want it to ensure a smooth end to classes. Check your settings, attend to lingering unsubmitted scores, and export your gradebook so you can start summer vacation early!


1. Review the basics. Before you finalize your gradebook, it doesn’t hurt to review the settings to make sure you’re displaying the information you want and that you understand all the data the gradebook is reporting. Did you know you can toggle between student and professor view directly from the gradebook under the “Display Options”?

Learn more about gradebook basics here.




2. Enable “Zero Scores For Unsubmitted Assignments.” By default, LaunchPad does NOT automatically give zeroes to students who don’t attempt assignments that are due for points. To set up your course so that students who fail to attempt work are given zeroes, be sure to enable the “Zero Scores For Unsubmitted Assignments” setting in the instructor console.

Learn how to turn on the Zero Scores feature here.


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3. Manually grade assignments. Some assignments, like those that require written responses, need to be manually assigned a score by the professor. In other instances, instructors may want to change a student’s final score after reviewing their individual circumstances. Both are possible by clicking on the area of the gradebook where a student’s point score is (or would appear) and typing in a new point value. If you’re unsure whether an assignment needs to be manually graded, look for the “paper” icon where a student’s score should be.

Learn more about manually scoring assignments here.


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4. Drop lowest scores. It’s easy to automatically drop a student’s lowest score(s) in a certain gradebook category. Just go to the Gradebook Preferences in the Instructor Console and edit the “Drop Lowest” number by clicking on it and entering a new number. Be sure to group similar assignment types (like quizzes or homework sets) into the same gradebook category to maximize the utility of this feature.

Learn more about dropping lowest scores here.


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5. Use weighted gradebook categories. If you like to grade your courses by percentage weights rather than by point distributions (for example, if you want to make homework assignments 20% of a student’s total grade regardless of how many points you make each assignment worth), you can do so by sorting your assignments into gradebook categories and then assigning percentage weights to those categories. Just access those settings in the Gradebook Preferences under the Instructor Console—you’ll need to turn on the “Use Weighted Categories” setting and assign percent values to your categories on the same screen.

Learn more about Weighted Gradebook Categories here.


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6. Import grades for offline assignments. If you use LaunchPad as your primary gradebook and want to import scores from an offline assignment into the system, use the import feature within the gradebook screen to add scores for tests, essays, clicker questions, and other types of assignments that are completed outside of LaunchPad.t

Learn more about importing grades into LaunchPad here.



7. Export your gradebook. When the semester is complete and the gradebook is finalized, the grades can be exported to either a .csv or a .txt file via the gradebook page. Professors can choose which data fields from the gradebook to export, including specific data for each assignment. If you plan to transfer your grades into BlackBoard, Canvas, or D2L, you’ll want to be sure to export them in .csv format.

Learn more about exporting grades here.




If your gradebook issues aren’t addressed here or you need other end-of-semester assistance, we encourage you to sign up for a training session with one of our Learning Solutions Specialists by going to the Training Center page. Happy grading!

As you have read about previously, we are making a number of changes to LaunchPad for the fall. All courses are getting an updated LearningCurve and a number of English courses are getting new diagnostics and new reports on those diagnostics. In addition, I have more to announce! For twenty-three titles now across the disciplines (and more courses, going forward), we are updating and improving the way quizzes are created. There will be soon be five tabs (Basic Info, Search Questions, Review & Modify, Settings, and Assign Due Date) when you go to create a new quiz. The Search Questions tab will have new filters, so you can search by chapter, question type, level of difficulty, and Bloom's level. The Review & Modify tab is designed to make editing your quiz easier, and the order of the tabs was re-done to be more intuitive. For more info on how this will look, check out this short video or the online user guide. In addition to making the quiz creation process easier, this will also allow us to make real-time updates to quiz questions, instead of having to wait until the end of the semester. Talk to your rep to find out if your LaunchPad course is getting this update for Fall 2016.

One of my colleagues sent out this today today (Differentiated Instruction in the College Classroom | Higher Ed Beta ) with the idea that this is a way that technology can help in the classroom--with students working on different projects online, or doing peer review, or even using LearningCurve adaptive quizzing. It's something to think about as you begin to contemplate ways to tweak your course for fall semester.