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Company maximizing powerful opportunity to blend learning research, human-centered design, analytics, and impact research to help educators and learners reach full potential.


New York, May 10, 2017 – Macmillan Learning, a leading education solutions company, announced significant investments in expanding their learning research and design capabilities to leverage emerging research and insights to drive future innovation.


Chief Executive Officer, Ken Michaels stated, “We know more about how students learn than ever before. We have an unprecedented opportunity to help students to achieve their academic goals by utilizing the science of learning.  And in this rapidly changing education landscape, instructors and administrators are seeking partners able to provide holistic, actionable, data-based insights.”


This commitment is embodied in Macmillan’s Learning Science and Insights division. Led by Chief Learning Officer, Dr. Adam Black, the team’s mission is to forge a synthesized, end-to-end approach to the research, design, development, evaluation, instructional support, and continuous improvement of all learning solutions.


Macmillan’s Learning Science and Insights division brings together a formidable group of industry-leading researchers, analysts, and faculty advisors with Macmillan’s User Experience Design team. Senior leaders include: Dr. Jeff Bergin, VP of Learning Research and Design; Dr. Rasil Warnakulasooriya, VP of Analytics and Insights; and Dr. Kara McWilliams, Senior Director of Impact Research. Leveraging the considerable experience of the team, Macmillan’s unusually broad portfolio of learning tools, and the growing body of learning science, is helping Macmillan Learning to redefine a learner-centered strategy.


A lot is known about how to engage each learner at the right cognitive level, through to coaching them with effective study strategies during a course and through their college career,” described Dr. Black. “Codifying this research into practical design principles, and co-evolving solutions with learners and instructors through user-centered design enables us to develop innovative solutions that are deeply intuitive and engineered to improve learning outcomes.”


Dr. Black went on to describe their process. “Designing data capture and feedback loops into our learning solutions enables us to continuously improve and is already revealing fascinating empirical insights into learners that are driving our future innovations,” he noted.


Commenting on the new Learning Science and Insights division, Managing Director Susan Winslow said, “It doesn’t get more exciting than helping learners, instructors, and institutions achieve their best outcomes. We are applying educational research to the design of our products, continuously evaluating the impact of our solutions, and utilizing insights from big and small data, as we prepare to roll out the first solutions informed from this work in 2018. We are passionate about the opportunity to make a significant difference in the teaching and learning process. This is what drives us each and every day.”


Macmillan has a rich history of continuous innovation in education tied directly to enhancing the learner’s experience and ultimate success, including the recent acquisition of several educational technology companies.

To learn more about Macmillan Learning’s Learning Science and Insights team and the journey we are on, visit


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About Macmillan Learning

Macmillan Learning improves lives through learning. Our legacy of excellence in education continues to inform our approach to developing world-class content with pioneering, interactive tools. Through deep partnership with the world’s best researchers, educators, administrators, and developers, we facilitate teaching and learning opportunities that spark student engagement and improve outcomes. We provide educators with tailored solutions designed to inspire curiosity and measure progress. Our commitment to teaching and discovery upholds our mission to improve lives through learning. To learn more, please visit our website or see us on Facebook, Twitter, or join our Macmillan Community.

Educational technology has the potential to dramatically improve learner outcomes, but only if instructors are helped to understand what works for their students and classrooms.


Measuring the efficacy of ed tech is difficult because of the complexity and variety of educational settings. Arriving at a clear approach begins with collaboration between developers, researchers and the instructors using these technologies.  


To work toward making efficacy research results more actionable, the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, in partnership with Jefferson Education Accelerator and Digital Promise, invited 275 researchers, entrepreneurs, district and university leaders, and teachers and professors to the EdTech Efficacy Research Academic Symposium in Washington D.C. The two-day meeting provided a forum for collaboration and the development of an action plan - to clarify what is meant by the efficacy of ed tech, and to develop more systematic approaches to measuring efficacy within complex and differing educational contexts.  


One of the clearest and most widely supported recommendations was that in order to better support instructors, a paradigm shift is needed in research - away from standalone statements of efficacy and toward the development of a body of evidence of a tool’s effectiveness. There was also consensus that building this sort of evidence takes time, and needs to be done collaboratively between researchers and educators.


Three key themes are driving the need for a paradigm shift in efficacy research


1.) The Counterfactual model is useful, but may not meet a university or instructor's needs


There was a strong message that researchers should resist the race up the ladder of evidence to randomized controlled trials (RCT), and instead rightsize study designs to provide insights that will help instructors.  During a panel discussion, Linda Roberts, Founding Director of the United States Office of Ed Tech suggested that the “Gold Standard” of RCTs cannot be the only model for measuring effectiveness in ed tech, noting that digital tools are often continually evolving.  Susan Fuhrman (Teachers College) echoed these comments by reminding us that RCTs should only be conducted when a product has been in use for at least a year and so aren’t useful for providing insights earlier in product development when significant changes could be made. And Brandon Busteed from Gallup shared from personal experience that many ed tech products won’t survive the (about) seven years it takes to fully communicate the results from an RCT, and that many adoption decisions are already made in absence of evidence.


The take-away: Conducting rapid-cycle studies that meet the standards of their design and provide actionable insights in a timely manner would better serve the needs of instructors and learners than would a rigorous RCT.


2.) Context and use cases are significant factors to consider when measuring impact


How an ed tech tool is used and in what context are critical to impacting learner outcomes.  There was consensus that systematically examining instructor implementations should be priority, as well as an understanding of the challenges.  Karen Vaites (OpenUp Resources) noted that, in general, edtech companies have a desire to explore context, but many can’t afford to conduct on-the-ground studies in multiple institutions and explore multiple implementation models.  Researchers and educators should work together to identify methods for measuring local impact and aggregating those results across multiple settings.  Results would help instructors to understand whether the edtech will work in a classroom like theirs. And, a meta-analysis of studies would be useful add to a product’s overall efficacy portfolio.


The take-away:  A tool’s efficacy research must start with a keen understanding of it’s users and use cases, and meaningful classifications of institutions and implementation models.  Then, a representative sample can be identified to conduct rapid, scalable implementation studies across contexts.  


3.) Providing instructors with the right information and at the right time to make informed decisions


Instructors often rely on a game of “telephone research” when making ed tech adoption decisions, asking friends and colleagues for advice - in part because research results are often not helpful to them.  In a lightning round presentation, Richard Culatta (ISTE) also reminded us that research results that emerge after adoption decisions have been made are useless.  Instructors can become more informed decision makers if the research community can evolve practices to provide more clear and timely communication about what works, for who, and why.  Linda Roberts suggested that if it takes three to five years to communicate research results, then current research should be focusing on the questions instructors will have three to five years from now!  These themes suggest that research should consider two parallel work streams: one providing immediate insights to instructors about current ed tech, and a second looking three to five years out, to set up studies to answer future questions.

The take-away: In the near term, instructors could benefit from intuitive dashboards that provide insights into their learners’ performance.  Rapid evaluations during the development of a product can deliver immediate, actionable results in brief, consumable reports.  Taken together, these artifacts can answer instructor’s immediate questions and build a body of evidence that will help to frame their future questions.

A call to action

The symposium concluded with a call to collaborative action - as Aubrey Francisco (Digital Promise) commented, “No one stakeholder [is] to blame for evidence not being [the] key driver of ed tech decision making, but it is everyone’s burden”.  Attendees committed to evolving the bridge between research and practice, and to partnering to grow a body of evidence that more effectively answers the questions emerging in schools and universities.

A job well done


A huge thank you to the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, the Jefferson Education Accelerator, and Digital Promise. And, to each of the Working Groups who spent the past six months tackling these tough topics, conducting important research, and sharing their findings throughout the two-day symposium.  All of the presentations were informative, insightful, and inspiring.


For more of my insights from the Symposium follow me on twitter at @karamcwilliams and join the conversation at #ShowTheEvidence.  

Also, be sure to stay tuned for my forthcoming blog series “Impacts to Insights” on the Macmillan Community 

Known by many names—mentor, instructor, professor, or teacher—you’re driven to action by one force: to inspire and educate the future. This is an immense task and, in our Information Age, it is one that is constantly changing. Yet, you persevere.

Over the course of my career in education, I’ve encountered many teachers who not only passionately instruct and educate, but strive to adapt to the increasing rate of change in technology and methodology. All of this is done in the name of student success.  

In fact, I remember a professor from my undergraduate days whose forward-thinking methods changed my worldview and her class marked a turning point in my maturity. This professor challenged my core beliefs, stretched my awareness, and encouraged me to use critical thinking and argument theory long before these methods were in vogue.

Looking back, it’s easy to see that the skills she taught in that class are critical in life. They not only strengthen a person’s approach to complex problems, but can shape the character of who that person will become.

With this in mind, I wanted to take the time this Teacher Appreciation Week to express our gratitude and admiration for everything it is that teachers do.

The work you do is an invaluable asset on the road to progress.  Make no mistake, you are affecting change and shaping the future of civilization every day, but the good news is that you’re not in it alone.

We’re here with you—ready to support your needs, tackle your challenges, and ease your burdens—every step of the way.  

All the best,

Ken Michaels

Appointment Signals Accelerated Innovation for Education Company

New York, NY & Austin, TX, April 27, 2017 - Macmillan Learning, a leading education solutions company, today announced the appointment of Chelsea Valentine as Chief Technology Officer. Ms. Valentine will play a key role in shaping the company’s technology agenda and future digital vision. She will report directly to Macmillan Learning Chief Executive Officer, Ken Michaels.

“We continue to see increased demand for more personalized teaching and learning pathways, data-driven decision making, and open architecture on college campuses,” said Mr. Michaels. “Chelsea brings a unique blend of skillsets and experience to drive innovative, flexible solutions for today’s educational challenges. She has the foundational discipline for the governance and scale necessary in our increasingly digital world.”

Ms. Valentine brings over 20 years of experience in technology, publishing, and education. As a published author of over a dozen books on web application development and a former adjunct professor, she brings a unique perspective as both an educator and technology leader. Ms. Valentine joined Macmillan in 2013 to lead product development for Sapling Learning, a division of Macmillan. In 2015, Ms. Valentine took leadership of the technology and engineering vision for the Macmillan team and has since revolutionized the company's architectural approach and roadmap.

“Chelsea’s expertise has been a game-changer,” said Managing Director, Susan Winslow. “Her collaboration with our Learning Science and Insights and Product Development teams has been instrumental to the creation of tools that most effectively drive positive student outcomes.”

Speaking about the importance of working in education, Ms. Valentine noted, “I have spent my career focused on education. I am thrilled to join this team and honored to support Macmillan Learning’s vision. This company has an impressive history of innovation and educational leadership. There is tremendous room to maximize the opportunities in education with our digital solutions. Most importantly, at Macmillan, our teams are not only working on bleeding-edge innovation every single day, we also all understand that what we do here every day matters.”

“Chelsea’s appointment is a key component to our strategy at Macmillan Learning as we continue toward our goals of innovation, operational excellence and improving lives through learning,” said Mr. Michaels. “She will be a key high impact player for our customers moving forward.”

Ms. Valentine will be based in the company’s Austin, TX office.

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About Macmillan Learning
Macmillan Learning improves lives through learning. Our legacy of excellence in education continues to inform our approach to developing world-class content with pioneering, interactive tools. Through deep partnership with the world’s best researchers, educators, administrators, and developers, we facilitate teaching and learning opportunities that spark student engagement and improve outcomes. We provide educators with tailored solutions designed to inspire curiosity and measure progress. Our commitment to teaching and discovery upholds our mission to improve lives through learning. To learn more, please visit our website or see us on Facebook, Twitter, or join our Macmillan Community.

Macmillan Learning has offices in Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Hamilton, NJ; Los Altos, CA; Plymouth, MI; New York, NY and Springfield, MO.

On April 25, Macmillan Publishers CEO John Sargent was honored with the PEN Award for Publishing, for "his fierce advocacy for the right to publish and for serving as a defender of publishers' and authors' intellectual property rights." (via Read more.) Other honorees included acclaimed filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, The Women's March, and Stephen Sondheim, who won the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award.


“A pillar of the publishing world, John Sargent personally embodies the intellectual rigor, integrity, and public-mindedness that make publishing a noble profession. His leadership in the industry has served editors, writers, and booksellers alike, bolstering the strength of our community for more than three decades.” —Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director, PEN America via

For more information, see coverage via Publishers Weekly (below) or at


At PEN Gala, Sargent Speaks to the First Amendment

By John Maher | Apr 26, 2017 | Publishers Weekly


The 2017 PEN Literary Gala, held on April 26 at the Museum of Natural History in New York, saw the publishing and nonprofit worlds come together in support of free speech. PEN president Andrew Solomon said the fundraiser was PEN's most successful to date, with nearly $2 million raised.


The publisher honoree was Macmillan CEO John Sargent, who spoke about the importance of the First Amendment to a room filled with authors such as Zadie Smith, Neil Gaiman, and Salman Rushdie. "For those of us who have made a living [in publishing]...defending the First Amendment, our choices are, by necessity, personal," Sargent said, adding that the amendment only referred to Congress's obligation to "make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press," and that it does not even define what free speech is. "There is no guidance, and the obligation to follow the amendment is only moral."


In his address, Sargent stressed the importance of maintaining freedom of speech in an industry that is built upon its principles—even when the speech needing protection or publication does not align with publishers' personal politics. The argument touched on an issue that has proven divisive in publishing of late, especially surrounding the now-abandoned book deal between alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and Simon & Schuster, but also applies to Macmillan imprint Henry Holt's decision to continue to publish the works of former Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly after the network let him go in the wake of numerous sexual harassment allegations.


Sargent noted historical examples as well, pointing to how "demoralized" he was after Simon & Schuster pulled American Psycho in the 1980s and "the great respect" he felt after Rushdie and his publisher, Viking, "withstood the onslaught" of anger and threats from portions of the Islamic world over the publication of Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses.


"There are fewer and fewer of us who decide on what to publish, not to publish or, very occasionally, what book to pull," Sargent said. He added that simply deferring to self-publishers and expecting them to publish works rooted in speech or ideology that those in the book industry don't agree with isn't enough—despite his personal political inclinations. "There is a steady drumbeat asserting that lines should be drawn...but unfortunately, the very act of drawing a line and making that decision runs counter to our obligations to defend free speech."


Others honored last night included Stephen Sondheim, who actress Meryl Streep presented with the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award; the 2017 Women's March, awarded with the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Award; and the imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker and writer Oleg Sentsov, who was awarded the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award.

In this article, Dr. Walter Bortz II describes his inspiring visit with Albert Bandura, author of our recent title, Moral Disengagement: How People Do Harm and Live With Themselves (2016) and his earlier work with Macmillan, Self Efficacy (1997) . At age 91, Dr. Bandura is an inspiration to us all! 

Macmillan Learning is partnering with media partner, EdSurge, and NY EdTech Meetup to host an edtech job fair! We are thrilled to welcome early stage start up companies and job seekers to our Manhattan headquarters on Thursday, April 27th from 7-10pm. This unique networking event is designed to help qualified individuals find their next job in the education technology industry. So, if you're a former teacher, developer, or passionate marketing or business development leader, this is the event for you!


For more details and to register for the event, click here.


If you have any questions, email:

Nikki Jones

New Support Community!

Posted by Nikki Jones Employee Apr 5, 2017

Attention customers! 


We are thrilled to launch our new Digital Product Support Community! In this new community, you can read knowledge articles, create support cases, view product tutorials, and more.


How is this better?


  • You can easily get answers to simple questions and known issues at the touch of a button.
  • You can create a support case, and follow it through our support system until the issue is resolved.
  • You can request additional articles or make suggestions to improve our existing articles.
  • This new support community is already a part of the Macmillan Learning communities that you already know and love, making one stop shopping even easier.


Add a comment or question on the new support community to let us know what you think!

What hot topics will have everyone at SXSWedu talking? We have a few predictions on the popular themes and trends that might take shape over the course of the week.

Of course, the team here at Macmillan Learning will be hosting several events that you won’t want to miss—but this conference will be full of interesting lectures and discussions that have the power to rock the education world as we now know it.

So, without further ado, here are our predictions on what’s likely to set this conference abuzz:  

Diversity and equality

Not only is this a hot topic in education, but the world at large, so we fully expect to see topics on diversity and equality woven throughout the SXSWedu. From lectures and panels to discussions in networking lounges, this is our chance to open up the dialogue and address the very real concerns we have in terms of making education accessible and equal for all.

Harnessing the power of data

As education continues to go digital, the amount of online student data will only continue to grow. The challenge facing many educators is what to do with all of that data—what are the best ways to process, analyze, and secure it? We expect to hear personal success stories regarding data from educators and entrepreneurs across the country.

The merging of arts and science

For years, it’s been STEM on one side of the coin and humanities and liberal arts on the other. As we move forward, however, we’re noticing a trend that weaves arts and science together. This theme will likely present itself throughout SXSWedu this year.

Maker culture

The maker revolution will be alive and well at SXSWedu. This tech-based branch of DIY culture can help improve classrooms simply with its think outside-of-the-box approach. There will be lots of discussions on maker ideology that can help educators do much more with less. In fact, the Macmillan Learning team hosted a session workshop, Design Your Own Learning App (in Just 2 Hours!), that provided participants with the tools needed to DIY a learning app catered to their classroom.

Virtual reality (VR) in the classroom

2016 was a banner year for VR as several new devices hit the market—from the affordable HTC Vive to the pricey Oculus Rift. 2017, however, will be the year where we find new and inventive ways to apply this technology to the classroom—and SXSWedu will be an open platform for brainstorming ideas with fellow educators.

So, whether the above topics turn out to be a hit or not, they are certainly themes worth exploring in the classroom. We’re eager to learn more about these topics so we can continue to provide high-quality educational content for educators.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns about where to find us at SXSWedu, send us a note. We hope to see you there!


Macmillan Learning's legacy of excellence in education informs our approach to developing world-class content with pioneering and interactive teaching tools. Through deep partnership with the world's best researchers, educators, administrators, and developers, we facilitate teaching and learning opportunities that spark student engagement and improve outcomes. We provide educators with tailored solutions designed to inspire student curiosity and measure progress. Our commitment to teaching and discovery upholds our mission to improve lives through learning. Learn more by visiting our website.

It’s the final countdown until SXSWedu! We’re putting all the final touches on our jammed-packed schedule—and can’t wait to see you at the conference in March.  

For those who may not be familiar, the SXSWedu Conference & Festival is a part of the world-renowned SXSW family of conferences and festivals held annually in Austin, TX. SXSW is known for its cutting-edge innovation in the interactive, film, and music industries—and SXSWedu is no different. This education conference was created to foster “innovation in learning by hosting a diverse and energetic community of stakeholders across a variety of backgrounds in education.”

We’re eager to continue to lend our expertise and developments with a forward-thinking community that’s as passionate about the progress of education as we are. We have some must-see events you’ll want to check out. Here’s where you can find us throughout the conference:

Design Your Own Learning App (in Just 2 Hours!)

Monday, March 6
1:30PM - 3:30PM
JW Marriott - Room 203-204

Have you ever wanted to create and design a learning app catered to your specifications? In this one-of-a-kind event, participants will engage in a learner-centered design process to conceptualize, design, and test their own learning app.

Our presenters—who are experienced, credentialed learning designers—will take participants through a six-step design process that incorporates the following:  

  • Learning problem exploration and analysis
  • Learning sciences consultation
  • Prototyping
  • User testing

This process is based on user-centered design and design-based research methods. Participants will leave this lecture with a deeper understanding of learning design and will be able to adopt or adapt the design model for use in their own settings. Add this session to your schedule today!

SXSWedu Startup Showcase

Tuesday, March 7
6:00PM - 8:00PM
JW Marriott - 3rd Floor Prefunction

We’re hosting the SXSWedu Startup Showcase this year. This networking event works to spotlight the education startups participating at the conference. The cocktail-style reception will provide attendees the opportunity to demo products and offer valuable, real-time feedback in a fun and casual atmosphere.

#TAPSXSWEDU 5th Annual Ed Tech Cocktail Party

Contact us for details

We're especially excited about our #TAPSXSWEDU Ed Tech cocktail party on Tuesday night! This is our fifth annual Ed Tech happy hour that will tap into the innovative spirit of SXSWedu. Edtech startups, entrepreneurs, and business investors will all get together to enjoy food, drink, music, and conversation.

This is an exclusive, invite-only event, so if you’d like to learn more, please contact us directly for details.

SXSW Job Market Exhibitor

Saturday, March 11 – Sunday, March 12
10:00AM – 5:00PM
Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 1, Stand #418

You can find us at stand #418 at the Job Market on Saturday and Sunday. We’ll be more than happy to share information on careers at Macmillan Learning, as well as details on the recruiting process and the education industry.

We’re looking forward to connecting with you at SXSWedu! If you have any questions between now and then, feel free to send us a note.

See you in Austin!  


About Macmillan Learning:

Macmillan Learning's legacy of excellence in education informs our approach to developing world-class content with pioneering and interactive teaching tools. Through deep partnership with the world's best researchers, educators, administrators, and developers, we facilitate teaching and learning opportunities that spark student engagement and improve outcomes. We provide educators with tailored solutions designed to inspire student curiosity and measure progress. Our commitment to teaching and discovery upholds our mission to improve lives through learning. Learn more by visiting our website.

As the old saying goes, to know where we’re headed, we need to know where we’ve been. That’s why this Black History Month we’re looking back at the incredible African-American women in STEM who pushed the equality envelope—in terms of both gender and race.

These trailblazers were smart, savvy, and tenacious. And because these ladies refused to take no for an answer in the past, our current generation now has access to freely pursue an education in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the African-American women whose passions, contributions and legacies in STEM created our present reality.

First African-American woman physician in the U.S.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler
February 8, 1831 – March 9, 1895

Rebecca Crumpler was able to accomplish what few black women—or men—were able to in the 1800s: she was accepted into medical school. She attended the New England Female Medical College in the years leading up to the Civil War—while slavery was still in existence in the South. Once the war broke out, Crumpler was forced to put her studies on hold and even lost some financial aid in the process—yet she persevered.

Not only was Crumpler the first African-American woman to become a doctor, but she also traveled to Virginia to lend her medical expertise to the war-torn state.

First African American Surgeon General

Jocelyn Elders
August 13, 1933 - present

Born to poor sharecroppers at the height of the Great Depression, Dr. Jocelyn Elders has an impressive academic background. She was valedictorian of her grade school and earned a B.S. in biology, an M.D. from the University of Minnesota, and an M.S. in biochemistry. She also joined the United States Army where she was trained to be a physical therapist.

In 1987, her impressive educational background and career led to her becoming the first African-American woman in the state to become Director of the Arkansas Department of Health. It was only upward and onward from there. Dr. Elders eventually became the first African American Surgeon General of the United States.

First African-American woman to travel to outer space

Dr. Mae Carol Jemison
October 17, 1956 - present

Dr. Jemison is living proof that no matter what your dreams are (or how many dreams you have) it’s possible to achieve them. As a young girl, Jemison wanted to become a scientist and knew it was her destiny to one day take off to outer space. But aspiring scientist and astronaut wasn’t the end of her dreams—Jemison was also passionate about dancing.

When this trailblazer graduated from Stanford with a chemical engineering degree, she was unsure if she should pursue her doctorate or become a professional dancer. While she ultimately chose to become a doctor, dancing would always be a part of life—so much so she would eventually find herself dancing in zero gravity.

On September 12, 1992, Jemison finally fulfilled her destiny and became the first African-American woman to travel in space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

The real-life trailblazers behind “Hidden Figures”

The movie “Hidden Figures,” based on the book of the same name written by Margot Lee Shetterly, is up for several Academy Awards at the end of this month. The popularity of this movie is shedding light on the little-known African-American women who helped the U.S. win the Great Space Race back in the early 60s. Take a look at the real-life feats these women accomplished as they perused their passion for STEM.

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson
August 26, 1918 - present

Even though she was often referred to as “The Human Computer,” the path to education was not an easy one for Katherine Johnson. The public school system she was a part of did not offer to educate African American students past eighth grade.

So, despite Johnson’s apparent aptitude, her parents had to find workarounds to ensure she could continue her education. These efforts paid off, and Johnson would go on to make significant contributions to NASA, including the calculations that made John Glenn's monumental orbit around Earth possible.

Mary Winston Jackson
April 9, 1921 – February 11, 2005

Not only was Mary Jackson passionate about science, but she was also committed to inspiring young students to get involved in the field. According to her NASA biography, she voiced her concern about the lack of passion the African American children at her local community center had for science: “Sometimes they are not aware of the number of black scientists, and don't even know of the career opportunities until it is too late." She would go on to becoming the mentor those children needed.

Jackson actively pursued her engineering career and ended up working at NASA for 34 years. She was NASA’s first black female engineer and held the most senior engineering title available.

Dorothy Johnson Vaughan
September 20, 1910 – November 10, 2008

When asked what it was like to be an African-American woman working at NASA during the 50s and 60s, Vaughan responded, "I changed what I could, and what I couldn't, I endured." Her endurance and leadership resulted in a 28-year career at NASA as the first African-American woman to supervise a staff at the center. Vaughan even anticipated that computers would eventually eliminate many of the positions her staff held, so she took preemptive measures to teach her team programming languages to prepare for the upcoming changes.

The above is only a handful of the trailblazing African-American women who paved the way for success in STEM. These inspiring figures, and their legacies, are constant reminders that we should never take education for granted. While we have a lot more work to do with regard to gender and racial equity in STEM areas of study, I’m grateful for the month of February to honor the achievements of African-Americans. 

Macmillan Learning & Benetech Launch 2nd Annual Code Sprint for People with Disabilities

Event designed to make digital learning tools accessible for all


San Diego, Ca -- Macmillan Learning and Benetech are launching the second-annual Code Sprint for people with disabilities in San Diego, CA on February 28th, 2017. The code sprint is in conjunction with the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference. CSUN is the largest international conference for people with disabilities, focused on creating an inclusive society via innovation and technology. This conference promotes the value technology can play in helping people with disabilities succeed in all facets of life, including education, careers, and independent living.


Commenting on the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, VP of Accessibility at Macmillan Learning, Stephen Davis stated, “It’s incredible to be a part of this vibrant community working to realize the full potential technology can have on the lives of disabled people. While we have strides to make here at Macmillan Learning with our accessibility roadmap, we are driven to deliver on the promise to make our learning resources fully accessible.”


The code sprint will be held on February 28th from 9am-5pm at Seasons 52. Throughout the event, we will identify and design technical, open source solutions to make common, educational interactives (e.g., drag and drop, sliders, sorting) more accessible. Anything created during this event will be open source and shared publicly. Rachel Comerford, Director of Content Standards at Macmillan Learning, commented, “This event will attempt to address some of the most complex challenges students with disabilities face when using learning interactives. We’re crowdsourcing code from a community of programmers who are invested in change. As a result, I look forward to being able to provide usable, accessible materials to every student.”


The Code Sprint will leverage insights and best practices from the DIAGRAM Center, a Benetech initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. DIAGRAM Center is a research and development center whose goal is to dramatically change the way digital content for Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) is produced and accessed, so that students with disabilities are provided equal access to the general education curriculum, especially science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).


Conference participants can also attend our session on usability and accessibility on March 2nd, led by Rachel Comerford, Director of Content Standards, and Kelly Lancaster, Lead Interactive Designer.


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About Macmillan Learning:

Macmillan Learning improves lives through learning. Our legacy of excellence in education continues to inform our approach to developing world-class content with pioneering, interactive tools. Through deep partnership with the world’s best researchers, educators, administrators, and developers, we facilitate teaching and learning opportunities that spark student engagement and improve outcomes. We provide educators with tailored solutions designed to inspire curiosity and measure progress. Our commitment to teaching and discovery upholds our mission to improve lives through learning. To learn more, please visit our website or see us on Facebook, Twitter, or join our Macmillan Community.


About Benetech:

Benetech is a different kind of technology company. We’re a nonprofit whose mission is to empower communities in need by creating scalable technology solutions. Our work has transformed how over 450,000 people with disabilities read, made it safer for human rights defenders in over fifty countries to document violations, and equipped environmental conservationists to protect ecosystems and species all over the world. Our Benetech Labs is working on the next big impact.


About CSUN Assistive Technology Conference:

The Annual International Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities has grown to approximately 5,000 participants with presenters and exhibitors sharing technology devices, services and programs. Participants have represented all 50 states, numerous territories and more than 35 foreign countries. The conference attests to the perception that disability is an international issue. The widespread application of assistive technology forms a common basis for the delivery of accommodation services to people with disabilities on a worldwide basis. The conference serves as an annual meeting venue for many organizations involved in the delivery of assistive technology services to special populations throughout the world.

Sherry Mooney

To Essay Is To Try

Posted by Sherry Mooney Employee Jan 26, 2017

Recently, I was reading Annalise Mabe’s great blog post on connecting through writing, and the impact of social media on our writing situation – both the unintended, usually negative, consequences and the ones glimmering with hope on the horizon, the possible outcomes worth striving for.  The outcomes that inspire composition instructors each new semester to set aside past disasters and keep bringing technology and social media into the writing classroom.


Annalise’s post reminded me that the French word essayer is the verb to try.  So to write an essay is to write an attempt: at understanding, at giving meaning, at making a human connection.


That essay might take a long form, such as those we read in our favorite online publications, or it might take the form of a rambling social media post.  (I won’t quite call a tweet an essay, but feel free to disagree with me in the comments.  It sounds like a fascinating debate!)  Polished or scattershot, print or digital, the essay is not an outmoded form, as some have claimed, it is the linguistic manifestation of the human experience, lived out in 12 point font or scrawled on a napkin. 


It is this definition – this striving – that I think gives the essay its best hope of having meaning for future generations, whether or not they study French. Or even English.  The essay as an attempt connects the writing of the classroom with endeavor in the real world.  Students might not feel inspired by “Once More to the Lake,” no matter how much of a paragon E.B. White may be.  But they know who is saying what about the social issues that matter to them.  Whether it is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip hop retelling of the history of Alexander Hamilton or Katie Kieffer as an up-and-coming Millennial columnist for Townhall, students are following the words of the people they admire.  By tracking those words, they are tracking social and political currents, keeping an eye on leaders as they try out ideas on a national – and international – stage.  Those words, if you will allow me to set aside strict genre conventions for a moment, are foundationally essays.    


One of the great gifts of the Internet is the platform it can create, the readily available audience.  Even as students engage with the language and rhetoric of writers and leaders online, they can also use writing to express their own social justice concerns, their own responses to political upheaval, and their own values as future leaders and citizens.  As they essay these ideas for the audience of the classroom, or the audience of the Internet, they will learn to refine their thinking, to polish their thoughts, so that they leave college with ideas – and words – that can make a difference. 


The textbooks I work on every day include sections on “Writing to Convince or Persuade” and “Ethical Arguments.” Even a simple “Cause and Effect” chapter can change the world, in the right hands, if it inspires the right language.  That sounds hyperbolic, but haven’t we all found our lives changed by the right words, read or heard in the right moment?  And this is what students are missing, I think. Both the power they hold and the dark side of the democratization granted us by the Internet.  When everyone’s words are available, when there is no threshold for publication, is it really worth the time to become a strong writer?


The answer to that, like the answers to so many things, is really a question.  In a platform overly saturated with words, how can you be heard?  What will make your thoughts, your ideas stand out, what will bring eager minds to read your work? 


It will be the quality, the clarity, the vividness of the words that will bring attention to the message.  Students who want to make a difference – in their own lives and in the lives of others - will need to write well to do so.  Even as they strive in the world, trying to shape it for the better, they will need to strive, to essay, in their writing, as the easiest, fastest way to reach a digital world with a global audience.  The intro-composition class – and the essay – is an important first step.

Macmillan Learning today announced the acquisition of Intellus Learning, an educational platform as a service company that gathers information across institutions to help faculty and administrators find and evaluate the best, most affordable digital content for each learner while providing actionable data on course engagement and success. 


Using a patented approach to machine learning, Intellus indexes the millions of content learning objects in use at an institution and provides real-time analytics on student usage. By organizing the wealth of digital learning assets owned or licensed by the institution, the platform provides transparency to all stakeholders to better inform resource allocation and instructional design.


“Intellus’s platform surfaces the best learning tools for students by matching teaching and learning objectives to all available materials. It is incredibly powerful,” said Susan Winslow, Managing Director for Macmillan Learning. “At Macmillan Learning, our goal has always been to provide the best educational content and tools for educators. Intellus allows us to continue that work while supporting institutional budgetary and retention goals.”


To read more about this exciting acquisition, click here.

Congratulations to Professor Donna McGregor and Professor Pam Mills of Lehman College (CUNY) in New York for winning an Innovation award! Donna and Pam were recently awarded the Online Learning Consortium's Innovation Award for their creative use of Sapling in their introductory Chemistry courses. Both Donna & Pam are proponents of 'flipped learning' and employ digital learning solutions to guide students through the learning process.


The OLC Innovation Award recognizes faculty-led teams and institutions for advancing undergraduate student success through the adoption of digital courseware. The award program is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success Program.


Donna McGregor earned her PhD in Analytical Chemistry from The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her personal research interests lie mainly in the fields of Chemical Education pedagogy and technetium-99 radioactive waste remediation. Her recent work in chemical education pedagogy has led to venturing into online education. With Professor Pam Mills she authored a hybrid general chemistry course for 250 students that piloted in the Spring of 2014. 


Pamela Mills is a professor of chemistry at Lehman College. She spends most of her time working with Prof. McGregor on the design of a General Chemistry hybrid course taken by all chemistry students at Lehman College. Prof. Mills is also the PI of the PERC Program – a novel instructional model for transforming the high school math and science classrooms. Most of her time is spent working with chemistry high school teachers or designing videos for the college classroom.


For more information on the OLC Innovation Award, click here.