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2016

How do I want to assess my students' competencies and monitor their progress in my course? Such a question can lead an educator to consider the means by which they gather data or measure the retention of concepts and material during the duration of their course. One way to do this is through a traditional form of assessment: quizzing or testing.

 

In LaunchPad, there is the option to construct and edit this kind of assessment. Being different than another LaunchPad feature, the adaptive quizzing feature called LearningCurve, the more traditional quizzes in LaunchPad are, by default, listed at the end of each chapter and module. These summative and timed quizzes are aimed at testing the student over the material that was just covered in the chapter or module. They tend to be concise, having less than ten questions for the students to answer. 

 

However, the quizzing feature in LaunchPad is also highly customizable, which means that if you want to give a large assessment, like a midterm or final test, you have the option to do just that. Below, you will see that, as I indicated earlier, by default the quiz comes at the end of the chapter. In instructor view, let's click on it and see what comes up. 

 

 

Selecting the "Chapter 1 Quiz" row from the LaunchPad home screen will bring up the window below. If you follow the yellow arrow, I have circled where you can go in and edit. In the past, I have found it helpful to start with the publisher's default content, which gives me a template from which to begin, and then go in and tweak or make the changes I need to in order to fit the class. 

 

Apart from just the edit button, you may also want to pay attention to the way that each of the pools of questions listed below are grouped together topically and randomized. This, of course, is more rigorous pedagogically insofar as it reduces or eliminates any sharing of the answers. But, for our purposes, let's click on the edit button...

 

 

Doing so shows more details and gives us more options. For example, you can rearrange the order of the question pools, you can delete a pool, or you can edit that particular group of questions - see the yellow bracket. The new options that are available include creating new questions, showing feedback, importing questions, displaying the question pools, and collapsing the details of each pool. Clicking on "Create New Question" will give you the option to build your own quiz.

 

 

In the yellow box below, you will find that click on "Create New Question" give you several options of the specific kind of question you want to create. While I haven't gone into more detail or shown the interface where you actually do create the questions, it is very similar to other tools you probably have used in the past to build online assessments. Suffice it to say, LaunchPad has a lot of deep or advanced features that I think are best learned through exploring or messing around with - in a test or dummy course similar to the one I have been using for this blog post. 

 

Another feature I have used in the past, and I am sure many instructors would use as well (especially if you have taught from an older online platform), is the "Import Questions" option, to the right of the yellow box and listed in blue.

 

 

Once you click on that, the following dialogue box appears. Some of you may be familiar with the formula it offers on how to import questions. That is, follow this template in a word processing program to get the correct formatting so that LaunchPad will recognized and place the information in the right way. My sense is that this formatting is pretty standard. So, some of your old test banks that you designed maybe for a more dated system should upload correctly (or just minor tweaks are required). 

 

 

Finally, I wanted to show you that you may also search the entire database of publisher provided questions using various filters and keywords. This is great because it allows you to quickly sort and organize all of the test and quiz questions that are uploaded into LaunchPad. 

 

Below is an example where I searched for the term "Watson" - an early behaviorist in the psychology profession. You can see that the system lists all of the questions, regardless of chapter or module, that contain the word "Watson" - allowing you to select ones that you may want to add to a quiz.

 

 

In summary, I tried to give you a taste of how LaunchPad handles the construction of traditional, timed quizzing and testing. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how to use the publisher's content as a springboard to customize and build your own quizzes, even how to upload quizzes and test banks the you may have used in the past.

The LaunchPad family of products (LaunchPad, LaunchPad Solo, and Writer’s Help) all have a quirk when Daylight Savings Time starts and ends that causes assignments aligned with the system’s internal clock to shift by an hour. As a result, for any assignments due after 11/5/16 for fall 2016 courses, make the due time an hour later than actually desired (so that when we gain an hour, the due time will become earlier). (I would recommend you wait until Nov. 6th, say after breakfast, to see the impact on your due times and make the changes then.) In addition, make sure you use a computer that is set to the same time zone as the course to edit assignment due dates/times.

 

If you live somewhere that DOESN'T change times, please note that if your computer DOES change times, this will still impact you and you should adjust your assignment due times. If you have any questions, please reach out to our Customer Support team. 

 

Also, don’t forget to set your clocks back too!

The first thing that your students will see when they sign onto LaunchPad is the "Welcome Page." The default settings automatically include a couple widgets: an RSS feed from Scientific American and a list of upcoming assignments that are due. However, there are many ways that you can customize this page to fit your teaching style. 

 

In this post, I am hoping to show you how I have used the "Welcome Page" in my courses. This demonstration will aid you in both learning about ways to customize LaunchPad as well as give you some pedagogical tips that could be incorporated into your own teaching style and LaunchPad courses. 

 

You will notice, below, that when you are in instructor view you have the ability to edit the "Welcome Page." Following the yellow arrow and clicking on the "Edit Page" button will bring up the edit screen.

 

 

The edit screen, featured in the screen capture below, lets you do several things. For example, you can rearrange the different widgets to different spaces on the page, you can add a new widget, and you can delete a widget. You may also notice that the two widgets that are enabled by default are an RSS feed for Scientific American and a list of the upcoming assignments that are due. 

 

Let's say that we want to add a new widget. To do this, you would click on one of the empty yellow boxes or where it says add new widget. 

 

 

Once you do this, the following gray box will appear - I have circled it in yellow. You have a few options here of what you can do. You can, of course, add or re-add an RSS feed from Scientific America, add your own custom RSS feed, add or re-add the upcoming assignment widget, and, finally, you can create your own.

 

As a tip, in the past, I have had students use the Scientific America RSS feed to write a one page article that summarize some of the current research coming out of the psychology field. As an educator, I think it is important to stay as up-to-date as possible on the current literature and latest developments within the field. And, as a result, having this continually updated feed on the home page is a nice resource to utilize if you want to have students engage with current research in this manner. 

 

To give you a concrete example, let's click on "Create Your Own."

 

 

This will bring up a dialogue box that looks similar to an HTML page you can create within the module and chapter system of LaunchPad. This is great because it allows you to edit and customize the widget pretty extensively.

 

Below is an example of how I have used this to create my own widget on the "Welcome Page." A lot of time, I have found it helpful, especially when teaching a fully online course, to post a class wide, at least weekly, update about the upcoming material that may also include technical and logistical notes. You can do this on the "Welcome Page" and students will see this every time they sign onto LaunchPad. 

 

 

Posting a weekly update on the "Welcome Page" is one way I have used this LaunchPad feature in my courses. Also, as I have indicated, the Scientific American RSS feed is great if you are trying to help students stay on top of the most recent research and literature coming out of your discipline. 

 

Overall, I hope that I have been able to give you some ideas about ways to customize the "Welcome Page" in LaunchPad and, in addition, given you some ideas about how to incorporate it into your own teaching style.

There is a wealth of content and features in LaunchPad that are either not enabled by default, or take a little bit of digging to actually find. In this blog post, I am hoping to shed some light on this publisher provided material by showing where you can access it within the LaunchPad system and, then, by exploring what some of this content looks like. This includes, for example, things like lecture powerpoint slides, flashcards, video activities, and the instructor's resource manual. I will also add my own experience as an instructor in terms of what I have used in the classroom or what I have found to be helpful.

 

Let's begin with where and how to access these materials within LaunchPad itself. You will notice that below, on the main screen of LaunchPad, the left menu frame contains the "Resources" button. Click on this to access another menu where you can sort these features in various ways.

 

 

Below, you have the option to sort by type, chapter, or content that you've created. I have gone ahead and chosen to filter this by the content type to make it easier to categorize and understand.

 

 

Once sorted in this way, it will bring-up the various categories of materials that are built into the LaunchPad system. Some of these include case study exercises, flashcards, videos, lecture slides, the instructor's manual, etc. You may also notice that I have indicated that there are two kinds of files: files that are geared toward students and can be accessed by them and files geared toward instructors. The yellow arrow pointing down indicates that there are more instructor resources that cannot be shown on the screen capture. 

 

 

Taking as an example, under the instructor resources, the lecture slides, I have displayed a selected chapter below. I have used these kinds of materials in class before (when I was teaching a hybrid brick-and-mortar and online course).  I have found these slides to be extremely extensive and comprehensive, covering virtually all of the material that is embedded within the eBook or hard cover textbook. What also is nice is that you may edit, delete, or add slides in order to customize the lecture powerpoint toward your own pedagogical style. 

 

 

As another example, in the following screenshot, I have included the instructor manual, which provides curriculum and pedagogical guidelines by which to structure your course. This can be really helpful if you are looking for an experiential activity or a new assignment to provide to your students. There are a lot of tips and tricks within each instructor manual and, making for easy access, they are broken up as per each chapter. 

 

 

Lastly, I have selected the flashcard activity that can be available to students. This can be really helpful if you want to give your students a pedagogical aid by which to memorize or learn some of the key concepts of each chapter. You will notice that each flashcard also contains the page number where the student can go look-up the context wherein this concept is introduced. 

 

 

In the forgoing, I have tried to highlight, briefly, some of the great resources that can sometimes remain "hidden" within LaunchPad. My goal was to demonstrate both how to access these student and instructor resources and also to provide a couple of examples of what some of these materials look like.

 

I have found, as I have indicated as an example, the lecture slides to be exceptionally helpful in structuring my lecture and classroom time. What's more, it has been much more convenient for me to have these resources accessible over the internet and on LaunchPad as opposed to, say, carrying them on removable media or a USB drive. This way, they can be accessed from almost any computer or device - making you able to prepare for class or to teach virtually at any time!

Customizing the content in your LaunchPad course is the first step toward making it uniquely yours. For this blog post, I want to show you how to do precisely this. I will first walk you through the different kinds of assignments and features that can be added to LaunchPad while also providing a few personal anecdotes from my own experiences teaching. Then, I am going to show you one of the customizable features that I use most often: "Document Collection". By adding this to your course, you will be able to attach virtually any file format (for example, PDF or a PowerPoint file) so that it is accessible and downloadable by your students.

 

To begin, you will see below that I have highlighted the "Add New" button that appears in the home screen in LaunchPad. Click on this to access the customizable content window.

 

 

Once selected, a window with eleven different options appears. I am going to briefly walk you through each of these. You may also be able to read the description that LaunchPad provides in the window as well. 

 

The "Unit" selection is generally used as a kind of module placeholder for other content. In other words, it will help you build and structure your course. Use this if you want to create a unique module on the LaunchPad homepage. I typically select this to advertise extra credit opportunities or to post a large assignment like a final research paper.

 

 

Next is the "Discussion Board" option. Be sure to check out my other blog post that goes into more detail about this feature: Using Discussion Boards in LaunchPad

 

But, again, this is an excellent way to integrate your course fully into a single LMS platform - this is something that I have done and found it very convenient and helpful. 

 

 

Third on the list is "Document Collection" which is something that I am going to go into a lot more detail later on in this blog post. As a result, I won't say too much right now other than this will allow you to upload and make accessible various kinds of documents to your course. You will also be able to type on an HTML page and include instructions or other kinds of content like URL links.

 

 

Speaking of links, the next option will let you post a URL exclusively by itself. This can be helpful if you want to give students quick and direct access to a certain webpage or online resources. This would be opposed to having them click into a HTML page and then selecting the link from within the text. In general, this is a pretty standard and straightforward feature.

 

 

The "Homework" content is somewhat of a new feature to LaunchPad. It will allow you to provide a very customizable experience for the student by bringing together and interlinking eBook content, APA or other professional standards and learning objectives, and quiz questions over chapter or lecture material. I would recommend creating a test course, like I have done here, and playing around with this one as there are many ways in which it can be deployed in your course.

 

 

Next, the "HTML Page" is a pretty standard feature on other LMS platforms and other university content delivery systems. In it, you can edit a page much like you can a word processor page. I have found that this is helpful if I want to provide quick instructions to students or include a link with some context around it. 

 

 

The "Offline Assignment" option is great if you are teaching a hybrid course, both online and in person. For example, if you give a large exam or assign a big research paper in the brick-and-mortar classroom, then you can use this to provide an entry in the gradebook in LaunchPad. This way, the students will be able to view current and up-to-date grades even though the assignment was not provided through LaunchPad. 

 

 

"Link Collection" that is pictured below, is a hybrid between the "Link" and "HTML Page" features. It is pretty straightforward in that you will be able to edit an HTML page and attach, in a separate way, a URL link.

 

 

By selecting "Quiz", you will be prompted to create your own quiz questions or select them from the pre-established test bank. I am sure you are familiar with at least a similar feature if you have any experience with teaching online. An analogous logic applies in LaunchPad, allowing you to develop your own form of timed quizzing (or you can use the built-in adaptive quizzing found in LearningCurve).

 

 

Using the "Video Assignment" feature is great if you want to upload your own media lectures to the course thereby making it much more personable and, perhaps, more pedagogically effective. You don't have to be super proficient in internet and video technology in order to do this. For example, you may embed a YouTube video you record right on the site or you may upload, for instance, a .mpg or .mpeg file recorded on your computer. 

 

 

Finally, the "Dropbox" gives you a place to let students submit any kind of document - whether that be a final paper, research proposal, or weekly journal reflection. This will also create an entry in gradebook where you can render a grade for the document; furthermore, allowing you to provide personalized feedback to individual students. 

 

 

In the last part of this blog post, I will take a more detailed look at the "Document Collection" feature largely because I use it so extensively and I would guess, by extension, that other instructors do as well. 

 

Below is the screen that will appear after having selected it from the original menu (above). You will notice that there is an option for you to select "Attach a Document". 

 

 

Once you click on this, a prompt will show-up for you to browse for the file you want to upload. Again, the file type is really irrelevant, since the system can handle anything from a PDF file to a PowerPoint slideshow or a Word document. 

 

 

I have selected a PDF file. You can also see that the "Description" box acts as basically an HTML page where you can provide context for the file or instructions on what the students are supposed to do with the attached document. 

 

 

This last screen shot is virtually the same screen that the students will see. You will notice that I have highlighted how the uploaded document appears giving the students the option to download it. 

 

 

I hope that this outline of customizable content in LaunchPad has been helpful in giving you an overview of the ways in which you can add your own material into the system or, at least, riff off of the default assignments that are already provided. 

 

I have found LaunchPad to be extremely user-friendly when I have attempted to incorporate my own documents and brick-and-mortar assignments into an online platform. By extension, I think that the students, as well, have appreciated how seamless and efficient it is to have mid-semester content (like an extra credit assignment) appear within the user interface.