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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

Thursday, September 7th at 2 PM EST, Professor Benjamin White and Macmillan Learning will host a 20-minute webinar where he will share his strategies and approaches to thinking about and incorporating digital resources effectively into his classes. A brief Q&A session will follow to address any questions you might have on these topics.


Register Now:


If you can't join us, we will record this and post the recording in our Webinars on Demand Community. 

About the Host:


Benjamin White—a professor of psychology at Blinn College—has been successfully incorporating digital assets into his courses for over seven years and has been at the forefront of utilizing technology in his courses to provide better educational opportunities for his students. He serves as the faculty fellow for the Center for Teaching and Learning at Blinn College, where he delivers professional development talks and workshops to faculty several times a semester on various aspects of pedagogy, teaching, presentation strategies, and learning.



One of the greatest benefits of using LaunchPad is how easy it is to customize to create the perfect course for you. But not everyone knows that you can do all these things, so here’s just a short refresher on how you can customize your own LaunchPad course.


First off, you need to choose the correct LaunchPad course to begin with. Make sure you are using the author and version of the book that best matches your course goals. (And we have lots of books available with LaunchPad, so this can be daunting. Work with your local representative to find the best book for you, or you can see what we have by browsing our catalog.)


Once you have the base course selected, next comes adjusting the content. You can re-name and re-order chapters/units, delete existing units, or add new units. You can add additional resources to your course, like your syllabus or student policies, discussion boards, outside links, video assignments and more. You can pull in resources from our resources tab that are in the course, but not assigned.


You can create or delete assignments that we have created for you. You can edit existing quiz questions or add your own quiz questions. You can pool questions for greater variety and security in your assignments. You can create video assignments. And for all of these assignments, there are a variety of settings that you can adjust, such as number of attempts, time limits, or ordering of questions.


Since so many people using LearningCurve so extensively, you should know that you can remove topics in LearningCurve, as well as adjust the target score.


You can manage your roster, dropping students from your course, creating groups for assignments or for various accessibility reasons, or emailing some or all of the students in your class. You can change assignment settings for particular assignments or particular students.


If you want to know more, check out all the articles in our support community or reach out to us if you have additional questions. We love to be able to tell you, “Yes, we can do that!”

As a recent graduate, I remember all too well the shivers we would get as students when professors muttered the word “test” or “quiz”. If you wanted to hear a symphony of groans, add in the word now and a sea of furrowed brows and hand slams would fill the room.


Tests get a bad rap in the academic world nowadays. With test anxiety being shed to light, academia has become aware of the negative effects it can have on students. Some students dislike testing because it makes them question their intelligence with every wrong answer. Others get stage fright, and can’t perform under the pressure, time constraint, etc.


Not everyone’s IQ is defined by a mere test by any means, and some professors have shied away from administering them. For some students, an examination apocalypse would be a dream, but what if I told you that testing could actually be a good thing?


It’s all about the execution.


According to the Scientific American article Researchers Find That Frequent Tests Can Boost Learning  through the psychological process of retrieval practice, the repetitious nature of test taking actually aids students in retaining knowledge longer term as opposed to traditional teaching methods (Paul). Retrieval practice, formally known as “the testing effect” argues against the “reading the material and being tested on it later” method, but rather encourages students  to learn through frequent state of testing. Now while consistent testing sounds intense, many do not realize the brain empowered blessings this poses. Studies have shown that when testing a student on material even before they have had their lecture can improve knowledge retention rates even beyond the final exam.


Learning Curve and iClicker are excellent examples of just that. Learning Curve allows students to answer multiple choice and short answer questions before the actual lecture, making students read the material and answer basic questions on what they read. To continue the testing repetition, using iClicker’s REEF Polling can continue the testing habit in a group setting. If more students get in the habit of answering questions based on the material, when it is time to take the official exam, they are more likely to excel and score higher.



Paul, Annie Murphy. "Researchers Find That Frequent Tests Can Boost Learning." Scientific American. N.p., 08 July 2015. Web. 24 May 2017.

As you may recall hearing from us earlier in the year, the LaunchPad team has standing Wednesday releases scheduled. As a result, we’d like you to assume that between 4 am and 8am Eastern on Wednesdays we may be having a release that may require downtime. You should not have assignments due then just in case.


Using that same model, the team would also like time for more advanced work, like database improvements, on the weekends this summer. Consequently, there is the possibility for a release every Saturday in June and July from 3am to 8am Eastern for all products in the LaunchPad family of products; do not have any assignments due during that time. We will return to our standard release schedule in August, as the Fall classes will be starting; the additional release windows are only for June and July.

We hope that by giving you advanced notice, even though we may not use every Wednesday and every Saturday, that it makes scheduling your short, intense summer classes that much easier.

Many instructors have adopted online discussion boards as a tool to encourage students to communicate with each other, share ideas, and participate in peer review. It’s also one of the few ways to check in on students to make sure they are actually reading their assigned texts (though the effectiveness of this is debatable).


Plenty of students will admit that participating in discussion boards is pretty low on their priorities when juggling multiple courses, campus life, eating, and maybe getting a wink of sleep every now and then. In my experience, these discussions counted for a fairly minute portion of my grade, which translated to me posting first on these discussion boards in order to write something that was articulate but not exactly insightful.


Genuine, thoughtful discussion can be beneficial to developing critical thinking skills and challenging students to question both their knowledge and their patterns of thought. This, however, is not something that can be forced. 


Creating dynamic discussion online is not an easy task, but if done correctly these discussion boards can become an invaluable resource for students to become both better thinkers and writers. 


So this question remains: How can instructors make online discussion more than a perfunctory task?


  1. Use Small Groups
    In some of my best classes, splitting the class into groups of four to six students eliminated the anonymity of posting. With the knowledge that my posts would have a specific audience, I was more likely to actually put effort into my responses and try to give helpful feedback to my peers.
  2. Ask Thoughtful Questions                                                                                                                                       This may sound obvious, but I challenge you to examine the prompts that you are giving your students. Are you challenging them to think or guiding them toward a specific response? 
  3. Relate Their Coursework to Their Real Lives                                                                                                           Students are more likely to actively engage with a text if they believe that the topics and themes are relevant to their lives on a personal, professional, or political level. If you find that students do not engage with specific texts it may be time to reevaluate what you are using in class.


Like anything else, discussion boards can be incredibly effective when used well. Make sure you are reading your students’ posts and starting good discussions yourself. Consider doing the discussions within the e-Book itself to further foster reading and critical thinking. Bring up interesting topics in class to prove that you have read the discussions, and that will likely prompt students to be more thoughtful in their responses. And think about making the discussion boards worth more of students' grades if they are helping you achieve your goals.


Let us know if you have other ideas to make discussions even better!

I’ve taken a fair amount of classes.

By the time I crawled across the finish line most people refer to as “graduation,” I had earned enough credits for a double major in English and Linguistics (and just short of a triple major in Speech Pathology).


I thought I was going to be an Audiologist. Funny how life turns out.


The average class I’ve taken has become a vague memory only to be recalled upon reviewing my transcript, but the ones that stick out (for both positive and negative reasons) have shaped me deeply as both a writer and a generally intellectually curious person.


One class that I took close to my degree completion was a course called Hearing Science. This course was one of the core requirements for Linguistics majors at my college and combined anatomy and physiology, audiology, and just a bit of physics to really simplify things. Although the course was a requirement for my major, it wasn’t offered every semester, and since I was a senior I was advised to take it as soon as it was offered. But when it came time for me to register it was only offered as an online class.


Despite how daunting it felt to be taking a difficult course fully online, initially the idea of an online class appealed to me. I was working part time, writing my senior thesis, and participating in club activities. Being able to work on my own schedule was something I really needed.


But what I hadn’t anticipated was that this particular instructor seemed to believe that “online course” meant “teach yourself.”


She uploaded her PowerPoints onto BlackBoard for the entire semester. She had a section for quizzes that would come up bi-weekly. She had a section for the midterm and final exams. That was it. Those PowerPoints and my textbook were the only means of instruction, and the only time I interacted with that instructor that fall was to tell her that BlackBoard had incorrectly marked me wrong on a quiz.


This created endless stress and anxiety for me that semester. There are people who are completely capable of teaching themselves how to cook, play guitar, or change a tire. I am not one of those people. I learn by hearing and asking questions. I am one of those annoying students who asks questions she already knows the answers to in class. Somehow hearing things over and over again helps them click in my head. There was no way I was going to perform well in this class if reading was the only way I could learn.


So I improvised.


I created my own audiobooks by recording myself reading chapters from my textbook. Then when it was time to study I would listen to those tapes religiously. It worked, and I did very well in that class, but this required me putting in time and effort that I didn’t have at the time.


I know that this is not the way most instructors teach online, and my experience is just an outlier from the norm. With all the digital technology and online homework systems available there’s really no excuse not to make online learning as effective as possible. Trust me, your students will thank you for it.

Please note that you may have received several e-mails from a Macmillan Learning employee attempting to share a Google document with you.


Please delete these e-mails immediately. Additionally do not click on the 'Open in Doc's' invite button.


If you did click on the 'Open in Doc's' -- please don't attempt to login to the site you are directed to.


If you attempted to login to the site, please change your password immediately.


There appears to be something going around, since we are getting external emails from customers that have this same issue. 

Let’s Play a Game: How does your college match up?

By this time of year, high school seniors have received their acceptance letters and have either made their decision of where to attend or will be doing so very soon. It’s also the time of year that colleges shine up their halls to make both their academic and campus life as appealing as possible to visiting students. When making the big decision of where to attend college, most will check various college rankings. U.S. News has been doing an annual ranking of colleges since Sam Adams matriculated at Harvard. They are generally a trusted source of this sort of information, and one of their most popular rankings is their list of the top 50 schools. However in our digital world there are many competing sources. An interesting one is the list on Rate My Professor. It takes into account data on both campus life (school reputation, clubs, and even the food in the cafeteria) and combines it with student feedback on their instructors. One can assume that some of the criteria used by U.S. News factors into this student list, but certainly not all of it.


With that in mind we pose these simple questions which we challenge you to answer! We of course will share the answers in a later post. (No Cheating!)
1) How many schools appear on the Top 25 Universities on both the Rate my Professor list and the U.S. News list?
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 8


2)  Which one of these schools appear on both lists?

  • Harvard
  • Louisiana State University
  • New York University
  • Washington University in Saint Louis
  • Princeton
  • Dartmouth

Bonus: What were the #1 Universities on both lists? (Hint: They are not the same)


Submit Your Responses Here!

The recent LaunchPad release had a number of items in it, but there are three items that I’m particularly excited about: 

help links to the new support community, access expiration information in the roster, and passcode protected quizzes.


For support, we have a new Support Community for ALL our digital products (which hopefully you know about already). The support links in the entire LaunchPad family of products were re-set and now go to this new support community. Check it out!


For the roster, in any LaunchPad course, an instructor can go to the Instructor Console - Roster & Groups, and now see all of their students along with the accurate Access Expiration Information. This will be especially useful in the first few weeks of classes, when students are using temporary access, to remind them to purchase full access



Roster Image


For quizzes, instructors now have the option to add a passcode (not a password, since that requires more stringent policies like letters, numbers, symbols, etc) to a particular quiz to limit student access to that quiz.


How does this passcode setting work? As an instructor, go to an existing quiz, or create a new quiz. On the settings page, you will now see the option for a passcode (see below). That code will be visible to the instructor as they type in the word/number combo. (The passcode has to be 8-20 characters with at least one capital letter and one number, but it can’t include special characters.)



After the instructor saves those settings, when the student goes to take the quiz that has a passcode set, they will have to input the passcode in order to gain access to the assignment. They can not get in without the passcode, nor will the system shut them out after x number of attempts.



Caveats: Once the instructor has used the passcode option, they can’t use the option to “allow save and continue” as well. In addition, at the moment, the passcode can only be used for the entire class; coming soon, the instructor will be able to adjust the passcode for groups or individuals.


Let us know what you think of this, as I know I'm excited about these improvements in functionality.

I just found out that the i>Clicker / REEF team keeps all their webinars archived here, including the most recent one on The Mobile Conundrum: Pros and Cons of Technology in the Classroom with professors Allison Soult from the University of Kentucky, Leslie Hendrix from the University of South Carolina, and Edna Ross from the University of Louisville. 


If you're looking to learn more about how you can incorporate a student response system into your classroom, check these recordings out! 

Check out this new webinar from our colleagues at i>Clicker / REEF

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 2:00 PM - 2:45 PM ET


Smart devices and laptops are an essential part of our day-to-day lives, but should they be part of the classroom?

At iClicker, we are fully committed to providing state-of-the-art hardware and mobile student response solutions. But we believe the decision on whether or not to allow mobile devices and laptops in the classroom lies with you, the educator. To help you consider the pros and cons of going mobile, we invite you to join three longtime faculty users, each with a different perspective. Sign up here.