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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?

Thanks so much for taking the survey to let us know which day, if any, you have a preference for us doing maintenance. As a result of your feedback and our data on low usage times, we are going to do a monthly maintenance one Saturday/Sunday of the month, from midnight Saturday until 7am Eastern Sunday.

 

During the maintenance window, you will not be able to log in or do work in the LaunchPad family of products. 

 

The schedule for the next few months (all times Eastern) is:

Midnight April 28 until 7am April 29

Midnight May 19 until 7am May 20

Midnight June 24 until 7am June 24

Midnight July 28 until 7am July 29

 

I’ll share another reminder about these maintenance periods as we move into the fall. Thanks for your patience with us as we continue to work to keep the product running smoothly. 

 

(NOTE: We are NOT planning on doing a maintenance in March.) 

            As a Masters student in an English department, I have taken my fair share of discussion-based classes on campus. In fact, my university refuses to give a Masters degree in Literature to a student who hasn't taken a required number of these classes. Most of them are night classes, and as a full-time student, TA, and mother, taking theseRosie the Riveter  at night can be rather stressful. I found myself longing for the freedom of an online class. As an undergraduate, I had taken many online classes---mostly so I didn't have to be on campus.

 

Ah, the thinking process of a twenty-year-old. 

 

              However, as a 32-year-old wife and mother, being able to take an online class or two is important to be able to accomplish the large amount of work that I am tasked with every semester. My first one in graduate school will be "Language and Gender," taught in the Fall of 2018. It is being taught by a male professor whom I've never had before at this university, and I must say, I'm a little nervous. Online classes are a tricky business. Some professors have a very laid-back attitude, while others couldn't care less if you signed in or not. One-on-one interaction and group discussion is a crucial part of a degree in Literature, and I can't help but wonder how this class is going to be. Will there be males in the class? How will the professor handle the sensitive topics? How will we do class discussions? As I think about these things, I'm reminded of one of the most informative classes I've ever taken as a graduate student: Instruction of Composition. This campus class was taught by a female expert in composition pedagogy, and although the class met in an actual classroom, the professor found interesting ways to incorporate online elements into the daily activities. My favorite of these activities was what I called "Skype Speakers." Every few weeks, a different expert in the field of composition would Skype into our classroom and give an interesting lecture and answer questions. It was an amazing learning experience, and the entire class was engaged and focused on the material. This is, however, not the case with many classes, including those taught online. But how can we get there? How can we take an online forum and make it informative, interesting, engaging, and memorable? The answer might lie in feminist pedagogy. 

 

            Feminist pedagogy is an all-encompassing way of teaching material to a class. It is more learning-centered, more democratic in execution, and redefines the power dynamics that are usually present in most online classes. In Nancy Chick and Holly Hassel's article "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Virtual": Feminist Pedagogy in the Online Classroom," the authors attempt to clear up the misconceptions of feminist pedagogy and argue that this specific type of teaching can help students in every class they take throughout their college careers. Chick and Hassel point out that  "This framing of [these] questions also puts the emphasis on how to use the technology, but we don’t want the technology to dictate our pedagogy" (197). Unlike a regular classroom, technology can hinder the teacher-student dynamics and can create a sterile, name-less environment. So how can we use feminist pedagogy to create a more welcoming, informative learning environment? Well, for starters, teachers must reevaluate the power dynamics in the virtual classroom. The learning process must be more democratic in nature; the professor should not assume that he/she is all-knowing and the students are the subjects of that knowledge. A discussion must be a two-sided entity, and both parties must teach and receive. Chick and Hassel also suggest smaller group size when doing online discussions. This makes the discussion more personal and relatable. They even suggest that the class use teamwork to build a wiki page together, something that would enable students to work together and to maintain an open dialogue with their peers. 

 

         Overall, feminist pedagogy attempts to restructure not only campus classes, but online ones as well. By adopting these characteristics, online classes can begin to have a more engaging and informative learning experience. I, for one, would love to think that feminist pedagogy could become the norm for online classes. Imagine the discussions! Imagine the freedom!

 

      I hope my Language and Gender professor knows about this.......

 

 

For more information on online feminist pedagogy, see Chick and Hassel's article, "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Virtual: Feminist Pedagogy in the Online Classroom."

https://julierenszer.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/chickandhassel.pdf 

   Over my course of being a TA, I've learned a number of things about college coursework. One of the biggest areas of debate at the moment is online class pedagogy and for good reason. Online classes or discussions tend to viewed by many people the same as a trip to the dentist: you either love them, or they're the bane of your existence. The logic behind this is pretty simple. As a student, you've either had a good experience or you've had a bad one. To be honest, teaching an online class or discussion can be the same way. 

   Online coursework provides a number of advantages to today's college student, but the work goes both ways. The instructor must make sure to provide a well-rounded online discussion that facilitates learning and fosters involvement with the class material. Sure, the students need to do the work and post their findings, but the instructor's role in an online class discussion is equally as important. By facilitating the discussion around specific lessons, the instructor has the power to be able to serve as a model for how they want the class to engage in the activity. 

   In David Baker's article, "Improving Pedagogy for Online Discussions," Baker gives practical, detailed tips for instructors in how to set up these discussions and the parameters they need to follow. He is also very blunt about the role of the instructor in these discussions when he observes, "Organizing instructor-facilitated online discussions is fundamental and demanding...teachers are expected to serve as a planner, role model, coach, facilitator, and communicator" (26) To state the obvious, these are big shoes to fill. Instructors can get bogged down in the amount of work to teach and can forget the details concerning their online discussions. It is no longer fine for the students to just talk--there must be a reason behind it, a learning objective to follow. Teachers need to be participatory as well. 

   Baker goes on to explain that small groups in an online setting can reduce "social loafing," which "refers to the tendency to minimize one's group involvement" (27). This idea helps solve the problem of student's who use online discussions as a way to avoid the weight of the assignment. Smaller groups and assignments promote more participation. It is up to the instructor, however, to assure that these assignments and discussions are well-organized and well-prepared. 

   Online discussions can flourish or flounder, but the responsibility lies not only with the student but with the instructor. From syllabus design to facilitating specific learning-centered discussions, instructors must be role models and should design the course around what benefits the student. 

 

For more information on online pedagogy, see David Baker's article, "Improving Pedagogy for Online Discussions."

http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.una.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=a4113313-3146-4b81-91c9-798dcfb246fb%40sess… 

Lee Hall

Beyond the Formula

Posted by Lee Hall Mar 1, 2018

Beyond the Formula: Encouraging College Freshmen to Think Outside the Box

 

            As college instructors, we’ve all seen it. The look of dread on student’s faces when we approach the research paper, the argumentative essay, or the exploratory paper. For the most part, this can’t be helped. As college freshmen, their job is to learn the foundational skills that will not only help them succeed in their college career, but hopefully into their professional one as well. However, most students enter college having learned certain “rules of thumb” that helped them survive the writing process in high school. What do I mean by “rules of thumb?” Certain tried and true tactics such as the five-paragraph essay, the thesis-at-the-beginning-rule, or revising the paper the night before the due date. Students used these methods successfully in high school and assume it works for college as well.

            As a TA, I have a unique perspective into the freshman composition class, and let me tell you, I’ve seen a lot of students who are blindsided by the fact that these “rules of thumb” must evolve in college. Since I am closer to their age than their professors, I have had students confide in me their fears about these new types of writing that college expects of them. In “Rediscovering the Kernels of Truth in the Urban Legends of the Freshman Composition Classroom” Thomas Lovoy examines some of these “rules of thumb” and what we as college instructors must do to encourage our students to adventure beyond the formulaic writing steps that these students have come to know and trust.

            Admittedly, some of the blame is on ourselves. Lovoy writes, “As we teach the same key concepts, year after year, it can be too easy to allow our lessons to fall into a lethargic routine of tips, almost like advertising slogans” (Lavoy 11). Freshmen composition teachers can fall prey to rehashing the same material from high school without thinking of new ways to engage the students in the writing process. So what kinds of help can we give? We can encourage students to write beyond the standard five paragraphs, and instead, we can show them how to adventure into writing without putting a set limit on the ways to get their information across in an interesting, relevant way. We can also give them ways in which they can revise their paper by being more invested in the process. These ideas are just a few of the ways that we, as composition teachers, need to revitalize our teaching methods and truly engage with what the student needs to learn. That is our job, after all.

            What do we have to lose? We might just teach them something.

 

For more information on encouraging students and specific tips on writing, see Thomas Lovoy’s article “Rediscovering the Kernels of Truth in the Urban Legends of the Freshman Composition Classroom.”

http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.una.edu/stable/27559167 

We will be performing maintenance between Friday, 2/23 11pm ET thru Saturday, 2/24 7am ET. During this time the following will be unavailable:

  • LaunchPad - Logging in, registrations and assignments
  • Writer’s Help
  • LaunchPad Gradebook

Please adjust your assignments accordingly. We have put a message up within the product as well, but please be sure to alert your students too. Thanks for your patience.

Student Store Instagram Contest Description

 

Calling all students! Do you have any tips and tricks to prepare for midterms? Tell us your best study tip in a short video for a chance to win a $500 gift card! Learn how to enter here.

As you begin a new semester, if you have any unanswered questions, you can:

 

 

Have a great 2018--and be sure to let us know if you need anything!

 

And for those of you who missed the email, here are some quick links that you might find useful at the start of the semester:

 

Becky Anderson

LearningCurve Works

Posted by Becky Anderson Employee Jan 16, 2018

We know that about 79% of all LaunchPad submissions are LearningCurve. We also know that LearningCurve has a 90% satisfaction rating with students. And I just got this tremendous quotation from a professor today:   "In the 10+ years that I've been teaching, I've never experienced students come to lecture so prepared and knowledgeable before; this is due to the Learning Curve assignments"

 

You can learn more on our LearningCurve catalog page, or check out LearningCurve in your LaunchPad (or SaplingPlus) course. 

We know that for people new to LaunchPad, they just want to learn the key functionality to get started--not all the pieces that the product offers. To that end, we just added a series of Interactive Guides to LaunchPad to get you up and running when you first log in. For instance, when you first go in to create a course, you will see the guide for how to create a course.

 

 

You can follow this step-by-step walkthrough to actually create a course. At the end of the tutorial, you will have a fully functional course to explore. All in all, we added seven interactive guides to LaunchPad, including ones on Course Creation, Dashboard Navigation, Course Activation, Instructor Resources, Gradebook Tour, Instructor Console, and Zero Out Past Due Assignments.

 

Interactive Guide List

 

You can open them up by clicking on “Guides” on the right, or close them out with the x. We are testing these guides out this semester to see if you find them useful. Please let us know what you think by responding to this post (or by using the guides themselves)--and let us know if you have other topics that you think would benefit from a guide.

As of today, the LaunchPads for Gunn’s Speech Craft, O’Hair’s A Speaker’s Guidebook 7e, and O’Hair’s Real Communication 4e have a new video assessment program. We know that the best way for students to improve their public speaking skills is to give a speech and then watch themselves giving the speech with accompanying feedback--and this new assessment program makes that process so much easier!

 

So why did we do this and what do you and your students gain with this change?

 

The new assessment option will allow you to do the following:  

 

  • Instructors and students can record directly into the assignment.
  • Instructors can add comments and fill out rubrics in the assignment during live speeches and load directly into students’ assignments, all simultaneously.
  • When students finish giving a speech, instructors are done recording and assessing. And since the video and feedback is all in one place for students to reference for learning and improvement, the feedback loop is complete.

 

The program is simple to use with superior commenting, recording, and rubric assessment features. Features include:

  • Powerful feedback
    • Multiple comment delivery options for rich feedback. Comments are side-by-side with the video. Instructors and students can submit text comments or post audio, video, documents, or images as feedback.
    • Visual markers that map the plusses and minuses of the speech. Easy-to-set-up markers make it possible for instructors and students to call out key issues or positive points of the video. You can track every “um,” every speech citation, every use of eye contact, and students will see these markers mapped visually against their speech video.
    • Descriptive rubrics and publisher-provided rubrics that provide crystal-clear assessment. The rubrics in the new program provides more than just a number score for each criteria; they will now include written information on what each score means, i.e. what a 1 means, what a 2 means, etc. Instructors can create and edit their own rubrics, or they can use or edit ours.
  • Real-time feedback
    • Instructors can record each student’s speech directly into the assignment and assess it live while the student is giving the speech.
    • Students can see their video powerfully, paired with instructor feedback immediately.
    • When the speech is done, the instructor is done with their assessment. Because the grading work of the class is done at the end of the class hour, instructors get their lives back.
  • Mobile device-friendly: Through iOS/Android apps that will go live later in the spring, video can be recorded on a mobile device and loaded directly into an assignment. This is a huge improvement over LaunchPad.
  • Live streaming: Instructors who teach online public speaking classes bemoan the fact that students miss out on the live experience of giving a speech. With our new video assessment program, online speech classes can live-stream their speech video while the instructor and class assesses it in the moment.


We will be adding this to new LaunchPads as they release, going forward. If you have any questions about this exciting new part of LaunchPad, let us know! (And check out all the instructor directions here, to get started today!)

Becky Anderson

Upcoming Maintenance

Posted by Becky Anderson Employee Dec 21, 2017

On December 31st, from 12am to 8am Eastern, we will be doing maintenance on LaunchPad and Writer’s Help. During that time, you will not be able to log in or access grades. Your students will not be able to do any work in the LaunchPad family of products either. We have selected this day and time as it is historically a low-usage period for us, so hopefully this doesn’t cause you too much trouble.

 

In addition, please note that our Customer Support team is getting some time off at the end of the year.  The office will be closed on the following dates:  12/24, 12/25, 12/31, and 1/1. Please use the support documentation during that time to get any of your questions answered, or fill out the support form and an agent will get back to you when we reopen at 8am Eastern on the next day of business.

 

We have added this information to the pop-up that appears on the log-in page and first page in the product, but if you have any classes running over the Dec. 24 to January 2 period, please let your students know about the maintenance and the support hours as well as they may not read the pop-up.

 

If you have any questions, let us know.  And we look forward to working with you in 2018!

It is disheartening to know how many students don't realize that their LaunchPad includes the ebook--and we wanted to help fix that. So with the newer LaunchPads, we added an Orientation Quiz to help students better understand how to use LaunchPad. There is a short video to watch and a series of quiz questions so students know how to find assignments, reach out to tech support, locate their ebook, see their grades, and more. You can assign this to your class at the start of the semester to make your life, and your students' lives, easier. 

 

If your LaunchPad starts with a Welcome unit, open that up for the Getting Started Quiz that you can quickly and easily assign. 

 

LP Getting Started Quiz

 

Let us know what you think about this--and if you have any suggestions for improving this, we'd like to know that as well. And if your LaunchPad doesn't include this quiz to start, you can easily add it using these directions. Have fun! 

Inclusive Access is an option that ensures when students register for your course, they are charged for the course materials at a discounted rate. They save money and have access to course materials on the first day of class! 
How does this work?
  • Macmillan Learning works with you and your bookstore to find the best price and product for your students. 
  • The format of the product is often dictated by your school but any Macmillan product is available for adoption including LaunchPad, Writer's Help, and our ebooks.

 

Contact your rep to learn how to offer Macmillan content via Inclusive Access or check out our website for more info.