When I first started working with LaunchPad, I took one look at that Instructor’s console and shivered. “What could possibly be in there that I would need?” I thought to myself. I didn’t exactly vow to never open it, but I certainly avoided it. My energy was turned toward populating the course I was scheduled to teach. As a result, I knew what I wanted to do with LaunchPad, but I was unable to make it work within the grade book. I became frustrated. Assignments were not in the order I wanted them; there had to be a way to organize the grade book to suit my need for order.
Knowing that the current line-up was not what I had envisioned, the second semester I decided to populate Launchpad by simply putting in each assignment as it appeared on my syllabus. For certain, I thought, anyway, that this way my assignments would be in date order. In other words, I opted to follow the schedule on my syllabus to populate LaunchPad. This method worked a little bit better, and I found myself not needing to rearrange my grade book--or wishing I could. However, as I insert new assignments, the same problem arose: the assignments would be out of order.
I finally got brave. Enter the instructor console. I overcame my aversion to the console and learned that this little button could help so much. The general navigation and Launchpad settings is pretty self-explanatory. Click on that and the title of the course can be changed as well as what timezone the class is located, which is important because I teach in two different time zones, Hawaii and the Pacific Time Zone. From here, I can arrange the home page on LaunchPad. Since many of my students were requesting to have the most recent assignment on top of the screen rather than sorted by the default settings in LaunchPad, I discovered that I could change this section to suit their needs.
The batch due date update is really important if you're going to be teaching the same class the following semester. In this place you can easily plug in the previous semester’s start and end date, the new start date, and all of the assignments will fall into line (assuming, of course, that you’ve copied your previous course instead of starting fresh). In other words, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. All of the due dates will be adjusted accordingly. The only downfall to this is if you are changing your syllabus for the coming semester, keeping some items and eliminating others. If that's the case, it appears as if your new assignments will be out of order from the previously included assignments, but that is simply not the case. There is a place to go to reorder all of your assignments to accommodate changes in the syllabus.
The grade book preferences really is the Holy Grail of the instructor console. In this spot, you can easily put in the percentage for passing the class (even though the universities I work for state that 60% is passing, I put it as 70% so that the students strive for that “C” grade), ask LaunchPad to put in zero grades for any assignment that has not been completed on time, and re-arrange each of your assignments so that they line up according to your syllabus and sensibilities. A word of caution here with respect to the automatic “0” grades: if you have assignments to be graded manually, on the day after the manual assignment is collected, “0” grades go through. My students didn’t panic here--I told them what was going on, and they seemed to accept it as if it were a part of daily life.
To re-order the assignments, click on the blue “Show Assignments” toggle. There, your categories will appear. You can then open up the categories to show everything that is contained under each category. You can not only re-number the categories here, but you can also re-number the assignments within each category. You can also remove categories that you may have accidently set up. This is now your customized grade book that reflects your own sensibilities and your own preference for order.
One other fast note: You don’t have to go back out to the assignments page to go to another section on the Instructor Console. Just click on the blue button on the top that says, “Instructor Console” and you will arrive back at the main navigation for the Instructor Console.
I hope this blog on using the Instructor Console is helpful for everyone! I can assure you that I was frightened of this spot--I didn’t want to break anything. But now that I have figured out how this can help me and make my life easier, I’m happy to share my findings with you! As always, email me if you have questions. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and I am happy to answer questions, share course materials, or even help you to come up with ideas to make your classroom LaunchPad friendly.