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3 Posts authored by: Deanna Roskop

In Part 1 of the series “LaunchPad”, I focused on how to use LaunchPad in your classes and what tools are helpful to use.  Part 2 of the “LaunchPad” series went on to discuss the most important aspect, the benefits to the students in using the product.

 

The 3rd and final part of the “LaunchPad” series is the benefits to the instructor. As an instructor, I continue to appreciate the benefits of efficiency, ease, and freeing up class time to teach using hands-on activities.  In freeing up class time, I have been able to improve my teaching to apply the information, complete activities, and drive concepts home more for students.  The use of digital products also enables our culture’s desirable use of technology in the classroom. 

 

Breaking down these instructor benefits in more detail, let’s start with the most significant benefit to me…efficiency. I am so grateful for the time digital learning saves me from grading and entering grades.  Assigning LearningCurve assignments, as well as learning to use LearningCurves, is fast and easy.  Having students take their LearningCurves and quizzes online frees up more class time for me to teach and complete application activities.  I also appreciate that the quizzes and LearningCurves are already created for me.  Again, it saves me time not to have to write these, and I can even edit them if I wish.  I am also so pleased and confident when I can provide students with more affordable options since purchasing the online version is usually lower cost.  A repeat from a previous post, it forces students to actually USE their text, and delve into the material.  Especially in the communication discipline, I find it provides students with a better understanding, with the ability to apply it, and to RETAIN it.  Thus, I have seen my students be more successful and have higher grades.  Since students all have different learning styles, it adds the benefit to serve many different learning styles.  To reiterate, it also gives students an opportunity to use technology in their learning.

 

In summary, my 3-part series “LaunchPad” discussed the digital products I use, how I use LaunchPad, the benefits to the students and to the instructor.  The benefits I’ve seen have been well worth the use.  If you have any hesitation on beginning the process of using digital products, I emphasize that it is not difficult, and is fast and easy to use.  If you still waver on the decision, Macmillan offers many opportunities to train and help you.   With the benefits to the students and instructor and the ability to get ahead on the latest technological savvy classroom, I encourage you to jump on board.

In Part 1 of the series “LaunchPad”, I focused on how to use LaunchPad in your classes and what tools are helpful to use.

 

The important aspect, besides how and what to use in LaunchPad, is the benefits of using LearningCurve to the students.  I discovered these benefits from observation of students and their grades, speaking with them, and surveying students at the end of the semester.  I ascertained most students see the benefits and appreciate use of LearningCurve.  Students are benefitting by preparing in reading their material more, retaining more information, appreciating the ease of use, being provided an affordable option, and providing successful learning opportunities in a stress-free environment.

 

To break down the benefits more precisely, the most common benefits include: 

 

Students learn and retain the material better. In the past, I always struggled with encouraging students to read their text; however, they now actually read the e-text and remember the content! 

 

The digital platform is user friendly.  Students appreciate having to only log in through one site (through BlackBoard), and once they have logged in the first time, they never are required to log in again if they enter through BlackBoard.  It surprised me how much students dislike login pages because they won’t remember their login information. 

 

Having immediate access to the text online anytime from anywhere is extremely helpful.  Students have been known to access the text and quizzes from school, home and even work during their busy, mobile schedules.

 

Students concur that online quizzes from home are preferred over in-class quizzes and exams.  They value the ability to take an exam on their own time when they are comfortable, because they are able to use resources, and have the ability to take the quiz during the time of day they learn best or when they have time.  Students also like that they can start an assignment, save it, and return to it later.  In short, students are “testing” well because they are completing it in a stress-free environment.

 

It is also satisfying for students to see their grade transfer and appear in their BlackBoard gradebook.  It provides for a productive feeling with immediate feedback.  It also keeps students from having to “record-keep” or save hard copies of assignments, quizzes and exams.

 

Students expressed gratitude that the professor actually used the materials that students were required to purchase, and they were grateful for the reasonable price.  As surprising as it is to me, students complain that many professors never refer to or use the products students spent a lot of money on.  In using this product, students are offered an affordable option that they will indeed use and learn from.

 

The digital product saves students time in many ways, from the ability to purchase e-text access online (no trips to the expensive bookstore!), having access any time, having their grades tracked and transferred for them, etc…

In the high technology culture we now live in, most students have trouble keeping their technology devices put away.  Further, many young students arrive at college having greatly used technology in their middle and high school education.  Whether we like it or not, simply put, this is how they now learn.  Therefore, if many students learn from technology, prefer technology, and don’t want to go without it, I see it as a benefit to harness technology and incorporate it into their learning.

 

Check back for the third and final post on how using LaunchPad can benefit you, the instructor.

“Professor, may we take more quizzes than what’s assigned?  Will you go ahead and assign more LearningCurves?  I’d like to do some ahead of schedule.”  Do these questions from students seem like an unrealistic dream?  As unrealistic as they sound, they have indeed been asked on numerous occasions since I started using LearningCurve assignments through LaunchPad.

 

Before using digital products, most instructors dream of having motivated students who plan ahead and have a desire to learn.  Although we may have a few of these students here and there, they are not common.  Therefore, when I have a product that encourages a student to work hard and work ahead, I jump on it.  Using Macmillan Digital Products, including LaunchPad and its LearningCurve, have proven to be extremely beneficial to my students and me (the instructor).  I’d like to encourage you to jump on board, too, by sharing the following four helpful aspects to using LaunchPad:  1.) Which products I use; 2.) How I use LaunchPad; 3.) The benefits to the students; and 4.) The benefits to the Instructor.  In this first part of my LaunchPad series, I will focus on which products I use and how I use them.

 

First, let’s start with which digital products I use.  I have used several different publishing companies’ digital learning, and LaunchPad is easily the most user friendly thus far.  I currently use LaunchPad for both “Real Communication” (Intro to Speech Communication) and “A Speaker’s Guidebook” (Public Speaking) texbooks.

 

Second, how I use LaunchPad may be helpful.  It’s important to note that when using digital learning, such as LaunchPad, it should appear in your syllabus so students realize the importance of their use of the product to their learning and overall grade from the beginning of the semester.

 

I have LaunchPad mentioned in four places within my syllabus to drive home the significance.  Within my syllabus, LaunchPad appears in the sub headed sections, “Required Text/Materials”, “Course Policies: Exams/Quizzes”, “Grading Evaluation”, and “Class Schedule.”

 

An example of one of the places in my syllabus that LaunchPad appears is in the image below.  You will also see from the image that students have immediate access to the Publisher’s Help Desk contact information.  This will ensure the instructors do not have to deal with any technical difficulties that may arise.

Syllabus Image 1

 

Next, let’s also look at how LaunchPad appears in my BlackBoard (Learning Management System/LMS), because this makes access to LaunchPad for both the instructor and students so easy.  Additionally, it enables integration so grades can be transferred over from LaunchPad to the BlackBoard gradebook.

LP in Bb Image 2

 

Now, more importantly, what types of assignments are in LaunchPad?  The specific assignments I use in LaunchPad range from a PRCA (Self-Assessment Score of Communication Apprehension), the e-text, Chapter LearningCurves, “What About You?” Self-Assessments, Tips & Techniques (for Anxiety Reduction), and Videos (Speech samples) and 2-minute video clips.  All of the assignments help students retain and apply the material.

 

As you’ll see, the home page of LaunchPad is similar to a modern technological look students are familiar with.  Furthermore, it is user friendly by having gradebook, calendar, e-text, and assignments with due dates all at first glance when they enter LaunchPad.

LP Home Screen Image 3

 

A favorite assignment feature on LaunchPad is the LearningCurve.  Macmillan describes LearningCurves as an adaptive quizzing and personalized learning program that puts the concept of "testing to learn" into action. It is game-like quizzing motivating students to engage with their course.   

LC Home Screen Image 4

In the sample question, you can see students will be shown if they answered correctly.  If they answered incorrectly, it will further explain why he or she missed it, followed by an opportunity to try again, get a hint, access the e-text, or have it look up the answer for them.  The student has a total number of points to reach to finish the quiz, so the more they answer correctly from the start, the more points and faster they will reach their total.  If they are missing concepts, they will be asked about those again to ensure they learn the content.  At the bottom of the screen, they are able to track their progress.

LC question wrong Image 5

 

After covering how I use the digital products in my classes as well as the great tools available, return in a few days to read part 2 and 3 of this series which will focus on the most important part: the benefits of using LaunchPad to the students and instructor.