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2018

      Recently, I was skimming an article on the dangers of cheating services for online classes (What can I say? I like to know what my students might be doing...), and the author gave some alternatives to abusing online classes for people who tended to stress about them. That got me thinking: Are students aware that there is help available to them? Do they know that there are other options besides resorting to cheating in an online class? Many students feel as if there is no other option; they are too stressed with deadlines, life factors, and unrealistic goals to consider the options available to them in helping them succeed throughout their college career. As a TA, observing college freshmen has become a full-time hobby for me, and the reason is not just professional.

 

      As I watch these younger students struggle with their new-found freedom and coursework, I'm reminded of all the practical information that they should receive during their first year in higher education. I've never been one for abstract thinking; to me, there needs to be a practical purpose behind everything we do in college. When students begin to advance in their educational journey, online classes become an increasingly popular way to continue college classwork while seemingly taking the "easy" road. While you don't have to be in a physical classroom, online classes, however,  can still be stressful. The simple lack of teacher-student interaction can put certain students at a disadvantage, especially if the student does better in a physical classroom. Cheating in an online class can seem like a gigantic help if the student sees no other way of being successful in the class. Being the practical person that I am, I've compiled a list of things students might do instead of resorting to the act that will haunt them for the rest of their college career.

 

1. Ask a professor/instructor for advice. 

Students are painfully unaware at times of just how much they should ask for help/advice when it comes to the online college classroom. Most are afraid of looking incompetent and risk getting the help they need. Here's a secret, however: Professors are here to help you. The majority of them want you to ask questions and to feel comfortable seeking help. Don't understand a discussion group? Ask for help. Can't figure out where to post an assignment? Ask for help. Not 100% sure what the professor is wanting from a certain paper? Ask for help. Nine times out of ten, they'll be incredibly glad that you asked. An effort is extremely appreciated in higher education. 

 

2. Make sure you absolutely have to have this particular online course. 

Many students make the mistake of taking an online class so it'll be "easier" on them. In a way, it's completely understandable. I've done that myself. However, I've never backed myself into a corner when it comes to the assignments. I know my limit and I don't exceed it. Too many students sign up for an online class and are blown away by the sheer amount of reading or writing. This makes them stressed, puts them behind, and can ultimately lead to cheating in some form or fashion. If you don't need this particular class, don't sign up for it. Know your limits and what you are capable of at this point in your education.

 

3. Don't be afraid to drop the class. 

This particular piece of advice could scare some students away. Drop a class? I would never! Hear me out: Instead of struggling and stressing and cheating to stay afloat, just drop the class. Recognize that this isn't the best situation for you. So many students struggle with when to finish college; they are so worried about a specific timeline for their life that they can resort to things that hurt them in the long run. Personally, it took me 14 years to complete my undergraduate degree. I had a kid, worked in the real world for a bit, and then was able to finish. One great thing I learning from the experience? There's no need to rush. I'd rather give 100% and do my very best work than rush myself through the biggest undertaking of my life.

 

While there are other ways to help students navigate the online education waters, these tips are just a few of the ways that students can take a deep breath and hopefully put some thought into their educational decisions. 

 

If you are interested in the previously mentioned article on the dangers of cheating in online classes, see https://www.usnews.com/education/online-learning-lessons/articles/2017-01-27/4-dangers-of-cheating-services-for-online-c… 

Becky Anderson

Maintenance on 4/29/18

Posted by Becky Anderson Employee Apr 25, 2018

We will be performing system maintenance on Sunday morning (4/29) from 12:01am Eastern until 7am Eastern. This LaunchPad family of products will not be available during these 7 hours. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please plan accordingly and thank you for your patience.

For me, there have always been pros and cons to online classes. The pro category is mostly the flexibility aspect. It's hard to compete with. But honestly, there are many cons, and I see them as a college instructor AND as a student. There's something to be said for interactions between the teacher and their class, and online classes lose that authenticity. However, one of the biggest issues surrounding online education is who benefits from it. It would be naive to assume that every student would benefit from an online class, because, well.....no two students are alike. While teachers must do the best they can for the largest number of students, students who struggle in college end up on the losing side. They aren't challenged, there is no personal interaction with the teacher, and the class structure can cause problems. 

 

In Susan Dynarski's New York Times article, "Online Courses are Harming the Students who Need Help the Most," the author takes a brief glance at the reality behind online education for those students who do not excel in college. While backing up her story with recent data, Dynarski tells us that the main issue for these students who are less academically proficient is the lack of teacher-student interaction. These students need encouragement, and face-to-face classes are exceptionally better at providing this for them. 

 

While proficient students who excel in college tend to do better in online classrooms, it is hard for teachers to balance out the needs of both. Dynarski suggests that the research behind "blended" classes (a hybrid of both online and in-person classes) is something that needs to be looked at. These classes could bring positives to both groups of students, and that is something we should be focusing on---giving a fair shot to every student.

 

 

For more information on this subject, see Susan Dynarski's article: Online Courses Are Harming the Students Who Need the Most Help - The New York Times 

Are you using Macmillan Learning’s technology in an interesting way? Do other instructors ooh and ahh over your course? Do students say, “I’ve never had a class quite like this!”?  If so, we want to hear from you!

 

From July 16-18, we are going to bring in a select group of faculty members to our New York Office. We want to hear from instructors using our technology in a new, different or generally brilliant way. If you are selected to join us, we will pay for your travel costs to our New York City office, meals, and two nights lodging in the city, and we hope to get your feedback on our technology plans for the future.

 

Apply Now! 

 

As part of the trip, you will also need to give a brief (15-minute) presentation for us on how our technology (LaunchPad, Sapling Learning, FlipIt, LearningCurve, SaplingPlus, Writer’s Help, WriterKey, Achieve Read & Practice, or Hayden-McNeil Custom Digital)  is changing your course, improving your teaching, or engaging your students. As part of the application to participate in Tech Ed Week, we will need a description about your presentation, and then at the meeting, we will record these presentations so we can share your great ideas across the country.


If you are interested and your participation in this sort of event at our expense is approved by your institution, please fill out the application, which is available at the link below.  The full rules are here. Confirmation by your ethics officer will be required if you are selected.  The application period ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on April 30, 2018. We will notify all who are selected at the beginning of May. Please let me know if you have additional questions and we look forward to hearing from you.

   Learning different avenues to make the most out of an online class isn't limited to young adults. While many typical-aged college students are adept at using these classes, the same can't always be said for adult learners. Adult learners are becoming a bigger and bigger part of the college experience, and consideration must be given to the unique circumstances that surround that experience. Adults have full-time jobs, husbands, wives, kids, religious activities, social causes, etc, that must be taken into account when designing online classes for the adult student. 

   This subject is, once again, one that I have experience with handling. I have taken many online courses over my college careers, and one thing seems to be present in all of them: the inflexible times and activities that comprise each class. Personally, this always made me extremely upset. Especially when I was taking split level classes as a Masters students with undergraduates, I always wondered, "Why are my assignments due at the same time?" or "What if I can't post my discussion responses at that same every day?" As a Masters student, getting lumped in with the 20-year-olds can start to take a toll on you. 

   Katy Herbold writes about these same issues in her article "Giving Students Choice in Online Learning Environments: Addressing Adult Learners Needs." In the article, 69 graduate students are questioned as to the types of things that help them succeed in online courses. These adult students overwhelmingly said that if they were given more opportunities for flexibility and designing their own content, they not only were more happy with their results, but also felt as if their individual needs were being taken into consideration. 

   I know what many instructors are saying, however. How do I plan a class for adults who each have individual needs? The answer, in Herbold's opinion, is the class syllabus. By allowing students more freedom, adults use that flexibility to excel in a class that might have been too much to handle. Herbold writes, "In addition, to address the adult learning characteristics of being autonomous, self-directing and self-responsible, students were given the latitude to select the activities they preferred and that would best meet their individual needs" (122). By doing this, Herbold states that "student responses regarding the course structure were more than 90% positive" (124). 

   These numbers are very promising, especially for a working mother and wife such as myself. I long for the day when adult students are able to design their course around what fits their educational needs, and also their time schedule. 

I have been penalized far too often for having a sick kid or being sick myself.

 

Wouldn't it be nice if....oh....say.....we were treated like adults?