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In an effort to keep all of our products working smoothly, so you can keep your work going, we are doing a scheduled maintenance of LaunchPad, Sapling, and FlipIt on Sunday, October 20th from 12:01am until 7am Eastern. During these 7 hours, neither you nor your students will be able to access these products, so you should alert your students and make any adjustments to assignment due dates.


Hopefully the advanced warning and the fact that most people don’t have assignments due on Sunday mornings mean that this won’t be a terrible inconvenience for you or your students.


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Becky Anderson

LaunchPad Checklist

Posted by Becky Anderson Employee Aug 14, 2019

In an effort to make sure you are all ready to go before classes start, here's a short checklist of how to prepare yourself and your students to use LaunchPad this semester. 


Course Set Up – Prior to Term

❏ Bookmark the LaunchPad sign in page:

❏ Attend a training and develop confidence in your ability to use LaunchPad

❏ Learn your username and password (and don’t put it on a post-it note in your office for students to see)

❏ If you are using an LMS in conjunction with LaunchPad, make sure your integration is set up correctly and that you’ve attended the LMS training session

❏ Bookmark Instructor Help and know how to contact Customer Support 

❏ Set up a new course for the new term. (You can copy your existing course and branch it, if  you have multiple sections of the same course, or create a new course.) 

❏ Make a series of assignments for students to complete. If you are new to LaunchPad and want to start small, we typically recommend that you begin with LearningCurve.

❏ Confirm that your assignment settings match the goals of your course.  (For instance, do you want to make the assignments due before class to enable discussion or after class, to confirm understanding.) 

Activate your course so it is available for students to enroll into. 

❏ Prepare for your First Day of Class with students by using our FDOC tools or by talking to your local representative.


Getting Started with Students - First Day of Class

❏ Provide students with the access information needed to join your course, whether they are buying access through the Macmillan LearningStudent Store or purchasing codes directly from your campus bookstore. 

❏ Explain to students why you are having them use LaunchPad and show how it can benefit them

❏ Make students aware of the three purchase options: purchase now, enter an access code, and pay later. 

❏ Make sure students know when and how to contact Customer Support.  

❏ Make students aware that the full ebook is included in LaunchPad, and it’s available to be downloaded for reading offline


Gradebook Results and Assessment – During and After the Term

❏ Review the gradebook to identify common student misconceptions and inform course and lecture plans 

❏ Use individual student data for early intervention 

❏ Download my student results from LaunchPad (or, if using an LMS, from the LMS)

❏ Think about how to change and improve your course for next semester

❏ Review the Macmillan “Webinars on Demand” for new ideas on how to use LaunchPad in your course.

Learning Curve quizzes are a great tool to help students review material and prepare for classroom discussion, and they also provide us with metrics to indicate what students might be struggling with so we can better tailor our classroom time to meet the student’s needs. Students often ask “how can I better study for exams?” and sometimes ask for review sheets or some way to test their knowledge prior to the exam, so they can see what they know and what they do not. Showing student how to properly use Learning Curve quizzes to help them study for exams provides them with a critical tool for learning and developing metacognitive skills.


When it comes to studying, a lot of students’ report reading and re-reading the text, highlighting as they go, but these strategies have been demonstrated to be relatively inefficient in terms of learning (Dunlosky, et al, 2013). If we can direct them to utilize more high-impact practices, such as self-testing, we can encourage learning as well as promote the development of study skills that can benefit them over the course of their academic career and beyond. To help our students better learn material and prepare for exams, we can direct them back to the Learning Curve quizzes and explain to them how to use them as a study tool.


When students study material in the same way that they will be asked to recall it later on an exam or quiz, we find an increase in performance for that material, this is often referred to as the testing effect. When students prepare for a standardized exam, like the SAT or GRE, they are encouraged to take practice exams in order to assess what they know and identify areas where there is are gaps in their knowledge. Roediger and Karpicke’s (2006) investigation of the testing effect demonstrated that students who tested themselves on the material perform better than students who reviewed the material for the same amount of time despite the former group of students spending less time initially on the material than the students who simply re-studied. Roediger and Butler (2011) build on the testing effect and repeated retrieval, demonstrating that an expanding interval between retrieval attempts provides better retention. We can use these findings to benefit our students by explaining to them that learning science has informed us, through evidence-based research, that the best way to study is to do it in little bits, spread out over time, and repeated self-testing can be an efficient way to learn and practice material.


Explaining the testing effect to students and how to use Learning Curve quizzes more effectively has the potential to increase student grades and engagement with your course. These best practices give them better control over their success in your course. When we explain to students how to better use their study time, we can help them become better learners in all their courses.


Best practices:

  1. Let your students know that re-reading and highlighting may seem like they are working, but actually provide the least benefit to learning. Let them know that instead of taking more time to study, they use the time they already allocate to study more efficiently.
  2. Direct them to the Learning Curve quizzes as a way to test their knowledge and study for exams.
  3. Tell your students that if they get a question wrong, do not copy the question and correct answer to review later, instead write down the concept that the question was about, look it up and then write down (in their own words) their understanding of the concept. Inform them that this helps get the idea into your memory, copying the question and answer may feel like work, but is not helping you understand.
  4. Encourage your students to study often, in small blocks of time. Very few students I’ve spoken to enjoy cramming for 8 hours the night before an exam. Let your students know that they should study in the same way personal trainers will tell you to work out, in small blocks of time and with concentrated effort.
  5. Tell your students about the testing effect (there are many you-tube videos you can show in class or put on your LMS) and how it works. Encourage them to prepare for exams by reviewing Learning Curve quizzes and taking notes.




Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving Students’ Learning with Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions from Cognitive and Educational Psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1), 4–58. doi:10.1177/1529100612453266


Roediger, H. L.; Butler, A. C. (2011). "The critical role of retrieval practice in long-term retention". Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 15 (1): 20–27. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2010.09.003


Roediger, H. L.; Karpicke, J. D. (2006). "Test-Enhanced Learning: Taking Memory Tests Improves Long-Term Retention". Psychological Science. 17 (3): 249–255. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01693




Benjamin has been teaching psychology courses at Blinn College, a two-tear open enrollment community college located in Bryan, Texas, for the past 10 years.  Benjamin integrates a host of student success components into his course to help his students with college skills, such as studying, time management, and presentation skills. In addition to teaching, he is the Faculty Fellow for the Center for Teaching and Learning at Blinn College, and provides instructors of all disciplines with several workshops a##nd presentations each semester. He presents on a wide variety of topics concerning andragogy, teaching methods, and student success with a goal to provide faculty with different perspectives and methodologies to promote success for themselves and their students inside and outside of the classroom.

The team has been working hard on improvements to LaunchPad this year. A lot of the changes are ‘behind the scenes’ like security improvements and changes to how LaunchPad works for visually impaired users working with JAWS, but a few to highlight are:


We just released some student onboarding changes that adds a "Purchase Access" and "Enter A Code" button to the top of the LaunchPad course if a user has less than 30 days of access remaining. This is designed to make life (and purchasing) easier for students using Trial Access. 



To further help with student onboarding, we increased character limit of the LaunchPad school name field so institutions with a very long name won’t be truncated, making it easier for students to find their school. 


We removed the Flash Player from the LaunchPad System Check since a) we have very little Flash content in LP anymore and b) Flash is going away, as you know. 



The "Zero score for unsubmitted" Gradebook Preference is now disabled by default for copied/branched course. This prevents the issue where an instructor creates a copy or branch of an existing course but doesn’t update the due dates and then when students enroll in the course, they automatically receive a zero for all past due assignments.



Did you know that you can drag and drop items in the Launchpad calendar? Or batch update your settings in Sapling? Do you have the 411 on Achieve Read and Practice?


Whether you know the tips and tricks or not, receiving training from your Learning Solutions Specialist (or LSS for short) will help get you “in the know” on the digital platform you’ll be using this semester and how to best utilize it for your own course goals.


So, who are the Learning Solutions Specialists?

The Learning Solutions Specialists (LSS) are part of the Customer Experience group. Each Learning Solution Specialist is a discipline expert that is responsible for helping instructors have a better experience with Macmillan Products. When speaking to instructors, that LSS can demo the product and give you a preview or give you a full blown training, from content familiarity to functionality and best practices.


Why Should I Meet With An LSS?

45 minutes can change your entire semester. While you may explore your Macmillan product on your own once you have been given access, our LSS team can highlight key functionality that you may have missed and share best practices on how to implement the many learning resources.


There are many benefits to meeting with an LSS:

-1-on-1 Meetings focused on your needs and questions

-Understand the best practices used by many other instructors

-Learn with a guide

-Discover Tips and Tricks

-Start getting your class setup while on the meeting


What Happens After my meeting?

Traditionally, after meeting with the LSS in your discipline, you will be sent a follow-up email that will recap what you spoke about, include technical support info and knowledge article links, as well as an extension of help offered for any further questions you may have about your educational digital platform.


As you can see, there are many benefits for taking time to meet with a Learning Solutions Specialist. This time will be well spent and save you time throughout the semester.


Schedule a demo or training.

Macmillan Learning has a Faculty Consultant program that might work for you.  



The Faculty Consultants talk about how they implement our products in their classes. They can speak about how our products actually work in real classes with live students.


They can talk about how LaunchPad changed their class or what students think of Sapling or how they included Achieve Read & Practice into their syllabus or how they use iClicker to engage students. So if you are thinking about using LaunchPad, we can connect you to another faculty member to learn more about what they  use in LaunchPad and why they like it. Or if you aren't sure how Sapling would fit into your program, you can talk to an Faculty Consultant about their experience with Sapling.  Or if you want to know if Achieve Read & Practice really works, you can talk to a peer about the benefits of R&P. Lastly, if you want to know anything about iClicker--active learning activities, grading best practices, or benefits of the student app & remotes--our Advocates are prepared to help out!


If you want to learn more, just comment on this post and we'll be in touch! 




If you missed our Spring 2019 Webinar Week, you can watch all the recordings here. And if you're inspired, comment on one or more of the recordings and you could win one of our great trade titles (see the list below) just for communicating with us. If you're interested, check out all the rules here. And we hope to hear from you soon! 


  • Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
  • The Sun Does Shine by Ray Hinton & Laura Love Hardin 
  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty 
  • Factfulness by Hans Rosling et al 
  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer 
  • A Higher Loyalty by James Comey 
  • Free Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah 
  • Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff 
  • The Field of Blood by Joanne B. Freeman 
  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman 

Palm Tree Planted Near Pool


Okay, so I will confess that Question Pooling is probably my favorite part of LaunchPad. (Yes, I'm a nerd and I'm okay with that.) Hopefully you know all about question pooling already and this post is a boring reminder...but just in case, here's a recap: 


With Question Pooling, you can create a group of questions from which one or more (depending on the setting) is chosen at random for students (and we do this for some of our pre-built quizzes already). If you pick questions that are all related to the same topic (which is sensible to do, by the way), then students are all being quizzed on the same concept, but the actual question they see varies--making cheating harder to do (not that students cheat, but you know, hypothetically...) and giving you a more diverse question base. So you could end up with a quiz where students see 10 questions, but those 10 questions are pulling from a pool of 50 questions, so each student likely ends up with a slightly different quiz from each of their colleagues. 


Check it out and let us know what you think! 

At this point, hopefully you've gotten all your students into LaunchPad and you want to see who has started to do work. So you open up the gradebook and bam--there are ALL these pieces of data in the gradebook. What do they mean and how can they help you and your students? I think one of our BEST resources is the LaunchPad Gradebook TutorialThis help article shows everything you need to know about the gradebook and more! Check it out and let us know what you think!




Friday, February 8, 2019 at 2:00 PM ET


While the benefits of a classroom response system in large lecture halls may be obvious, those same benefits can be obtained in smaller, more intimate class of 30 or fewer students. Led by Brian Geislinger of Gadsden State Community College, this webinar will discuss both how iClicker can be effectively used in small classes, as well as the unique challenges that active learning techniques in a smaller group can present.


After earning his PhD in Physics from UAB, Brian Geislinger has taught Physics and Astronomy at Gadsden State Community College for the past 10 years. Brian has been recognized with a number of awards for innovation both in teaching and for the use of technology in his classroom.



If you're just starting out with LaunchPad and you are overwhelmed with the number and variety of resources in the product, just start with LearningCurve. Assign one LearningCurve before each class period so students come to class prepared for discussion. This will allow you more freedom in your class to talk about what's important, and you can see which students are doing the work or which topics are causing problems. And though it's hard to believe, students consistently, over the years, report actually enjoying doing work in LearningCurve because they can make progress, ask questions, and they actually learn! They view the interface as 'game-like' and the online format allows them to learn without feeling silly by asking questions in class. It's a win-win, so give it a try! 



And if you're nervous, reach out to our implementation team of help in setting up your course quickly and easily. We're here to help! 


In the summer of 2018, we had a number of faculty come into our New York office to review our plans for digital offerings going forward, and also to tell us how they are using our products. My favorite presentation from that time was from Tim Molina at Northwest Vista College in Texas talking about getting students to go media-free in his communication class. If you're looking for something fun and interesting to do this semester, check out this 16 minute video. Thanks, Tim! 

If you have students who want to get the print book to go with LaunchPad or LaunchPadSolo, please be sure to alert them to the options at the Student Store.


Why rent textbooks from Macmillan Learning?  

Renting textbooks can help students save money throughout their college career. Textbooks rentals are available from 3 months to 1 year—choose the duration that works best. The best part of all? We offer free shipping for all hard-copy textbook rentals with immediate 14-day access to the online e-textbook.


Did you know that you can integrate iClicker into your LaunchPad course to keep all your grades in one place? And that you can use iClicker for attendance? With iClicker, use GPS technology to ensure that students are attending class. No more attendance codes that can be easily shared via text!


Learn more or sign up for a demonstration.

Becky Anderson

First Day of Class

Posted by Becky Anderson Employee Dec 27, 2018

As you start to prep for your next round of classes, don't forget that we have syllabus inserts and presentation decks for you to use to help students get registered with LaunchPad. 


Please view the following presentation slides and download the attached syllabus insert, input your course information, and share them with your students prior to your first day of class. You can post them in your learning management system, e-mail them, or print them out to distribute in class.

If you want to make any changes to the presentation slides, go to File > Make a copy and edit the copy you create.

Good luck and let us know if you have any questions as you start up classes!