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   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.
Becky Anderson

Are you ready for 2018?

Posted by Becky Anderson Employee Nov 27, 2017

So the end of the semester is around the corner...and then the next round of classes will start up shortly. 

 

What should you do to make it all go smoothly? Prepare now! 

 

Check out information on reviewing, changing or exporting grades for fall, as well as creating and activating new courses for spring. And don’t forget to sign up for training to make sure you have all the information you need to make the next semester even better! 

Let us know if you have any questions—and have a great rest of the term!

On Saturday, 10/28 from 4am -7am Eastern, we will be performing maintenance work on LaunchPad and Writer's Help. During that time slot, both LaunchPad and Writer's Help will be unavailable. Please adjust your assignments or plans to do work accordingly. 

While we are waiting to have "Spring 2018" added to the LaunchPad dropdown as part of the course creation process, there are no issues if you want to create your full course now tagged to another semester, and then go in later and change that semester to Spring 2018. We want to encourage you to avoid procrastination! 

As of today, 70 LaunchPad titles have the link to the new ebook under the Help Menu. We wanted to give students the opportunity to access the mobile-optimized and accessible ebook, as well as give offline access. (You can look to see if your book has this functionality.) 

 

So how does this work in LaunchPad?

 

Go to HELP in the upper right of your course. You will see the option for “Download Offline eBook.” Click on that. (If you don't see that option, then your book doesn't have this functionality, unfortunately.) 

 

You will then to go to a new log in page.

 

Enter in your email address to create an account.

 

That will then opened the book on your bookshelf:

 

Then, if you want to do the app, you need to download the “Macmillan Learning eBook” app and use those same credentials that you just created, to log in and see the book on your device.

 

If you go to another LaunchPad course that has the offline ebook, simply enter in your existing username and password, and you will then see that additional book appear on your bookshelf. (You will not need to create another account.)

 

For more information, directions, and visuals, check out the article in the support community