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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!

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dare-to-be-100-a-gem-retrieved-albert-bandura_us_58d18c14e4b0537abd9575ae 

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@macmillan.com.

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!

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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!  

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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.

 

# # #

 

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.

EdSurge recently published a new online guide: Community College: Digital Innovation's Next Frontier. The guide features six articles offering various perspectives on the challenges community colleges are facing.

 

We are very excited about an article Macmillan Learning CEO, Ken Michaels wrote called: How Community Colleges Can Combine Digital Innovation and Human Connection. The article features a conversation between Ken and Macmillan Learning college success authors, John Gardner and Betsy Barefoot (both renowned in this field). You can read Ken's article here.

 

This guide is a wonderful spotlight on innovation, ed tech, and our country's community colleges. To read all of the articles in the guide, see the links below:

 

 

We hope you will share the guide with colleagues!

 

(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

New Integration to Provide More Seamless Support for Writers,

in College and Beyond

 

Macmillan Learning today announced the development of new, integrated writing support within Microsoft Word with their leading online product, Writer’s Help. Powered by Writer's Help, this smart search APP is seamlessly integrated in Microsoft Word, designed to respond to common student questions about writing. Writer's Help Now will give all writers, in college and beyond, quick, reliable answers at just the point when they need them. Providing writers with a resource that allows them to search quickly and get accurate, targeted answers within the writing space so many college students use will help them stay focused and build confidence as they work.

 

“Writing is a skill students learn and continue to hone throughout their college courses,” said Macmillan Learning CEO Ken Michaels. “Educators repeatedly bemoan the common mistake students make when they use unvetted help from the web. By harnessing the best research from our authors to inform a much smarter search, we are offering students just-in-time help while they write. By integrating within Word, students don’t have to leave the application to get that support.”

 

“Students aren’t necessarily searching for words like ‘ellipses’ or ‘transitions’ when they have questions. Typically, they are more likely to search instead for ‘three dots’ or ‘flow’,” explained Managing Director Susan Winslow. “Writer’s Help was built on the idea of giving students information exactly when they need it, with the search words they actually use.”

 

Macmillan Learning’s team compiled research, gathering the words that students actually use to search for help in their writing so that the answers and results would be grouped into small, smart, useful categories.  “Students are often intimidated by writing and simply turn to search engines for answers,” commented Macmillan Learning Publisher, Leasa Burton. “Instead of getting vast or inaccurate results, Writer’s Help provides targeted, relevant advice.  It is a process our editors work on continuously so that we can provide the best  experience for students.

 

Already in use at more than 500 colleges and universities across the country, Writer’s Help combines content and tools from the most widely used classroom resources available, all from the leading publisher in writing handbooks, Macmillan imprint Bedford/St. Martin’s, including the best-selling textbook in recent history, A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers.

 

“All writers benefit from seeing a good model,” notes Writer’s Help coauthor Stephen A. Bernhardt. “Writer’s Help provides some one hundred models of various genres—lab reports, literature reviews, business memos, research papers, multimodal compositions, reflective papers, critical analyses, and many more text types. The model documents all provide excellent examples of well-formatted text to help students to learn.”


Writer’s Help Now, with enhanced search for multilingual writers, will be available in 2017.

When has anything ever been “typical”? The “typical” college experience is shifting dramatically as online education continues to grow, as classrooms embrace new technologies and non-lecture based pedagogies, and as the government pushes for free community college education. The stereotypical story of fresh-faced 18- to 22-year-old students moving straight from high school to  four-year institutions with active on-campus faculties (and, not to mention,  thriving social lives) is no longer the norm. Just as higher education options are multiplying, the higher education student experience is diversifying.

 

When I taught freshman composition at a four-year state university, I assumed that most of my students fit the "typical" story. From the outside, many of them did, but I wish I had dug deeper to see how they challenged this story—and wish I’d found ways to show them how to use their different experiences to shape unique projects and approaches to research and writing. When I taught at a nearby two-year community college, I saw more varied “stories,” but I was too new to the profession to know how to adapt my approach beyond an audience of that fresh-faced 18-year-old from an American high school—because that had been my story.

 

More first-generation students and international students than ever are enrolling in American colleges and universities, and more people are returning to school later in life to complete degrees or embark on new career paths. According to a report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, between 70-80% are working while enrolled in classes, with about a quarter of all full-time college students working full-time jobs (“The Struggle of Work-School Balance”). Tuition hikes and the increasing weight of student loans contribute to these patterns. And there are now online education opportunities that allow students to return to school later in life when they have more financial responsibilities—and, often, children (30% of community college students are parents)—to nurture and support in addition to their studies. Unfortunately, the incredible juggling many of these students must do has led to problems with retention.

 

That last point, especially, tells me that the myth of decreasing student performance isn’t necessarily true: so many students are working harder to do more than ever before, and their work is affected by a multitude of factors, many of them invisible to the instructor at the front of the classroom. This is true for

  • minority learners whose cultures and home lives may differently inform their approach to education and classroom topics,
  • students from a range of socio-economic backgrounds whose level of access to education may affect their work processes, or
  • older students whose additional life experiences and/or high school education in an earlier era may shape their approach to classroom authority or their level of comfort with academic discourse,
  • and others; there are so many experiences.

 

Most instructors know, too, that students’ increasing diversity presents not only new challenges but new opportunities. True, it might be more difficult to assign a recent article on, say, transgender actors in Hollywood or a video of the most recent GOP debate and prepare a discussion based on expected student response. But not knowing what to expect can also force instructors to be more creative in their assignments and to adopt practices that allow—and encourage—flexibility. A diverse classroom is an opportunity for more voices to reflect our diverse world—with a good, collaborative assignment, students can learn from each other and see how different experiences lead them each to shape a different educational path of their own making.

 

The “typical” student, then, is a student of their instructor, their peers, and of themselves. And an atypical student body provides greater opportunities for instructors to be students in their own classroom. Teaching to the “typical” student, then, is impossible. Instead, instructors need to be given the best tools possible to approach their students and course goals, and the best tools possible include flexible options and room for adaptation to the individual student. The Macmillan Community is one such tool—a way to connect with Macmillan authors and with other instructors who are teaching the same mix of students or who are using the same book, and to find out how they bridge the gaps or embrace the differences in their classrooms.

 

In my next post, I’ll talk more specifically about classroom approaches and activities that can help a diverse group of digital natives and returning students work together. Stay tuned!

Recently at the Campus Technology conference in Boston, Dr. James Caras and Dr. Mats Selen delivered a compelling presentation on the impact of technology in online and blended STEM courses. In the talk, Dr. Caras and Dr. Selen discussed the challenges associated with teaching large, introductory STEM courses, as well as practical solutions to increase student engagement and success rates. Dr. Selen, an award-winning physics instructor from the University of Illinois, employs clickers to engage students in lecture and an exciting tool, iOLab, to help students think like scientists in lab.

 

Interested in learning more? Download the slide deck from the talk below. Tell us how you are integrating technology in your STEM courses in the comments section!

You'll see us talking quite a bit about SXSWedu in the coming weeks. For those unfamiliar with SXSWedu: it's an awesome education conference held in Austin, TX each year. SXSWedu brings together a community of educators, entrepreneurs, and business folks to discuss the future of learning. The neat thing about SXSWedu is that the education community plays a significant role in the programming for the meeting. Voters (people like YOU!) can visit the PanelPicker page, peruse sessions and vote for the best sessions.

 

Check out our proposed sessions below! If you like what you see, click the thumbs up button on the session page! Voting is open through September 2, 2016. Vote today and tell a friend!

 

The Science of Decision-Making: Justin Wolfers, Betsey Stevenson and Nathan DeWall

http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/68102

What critical decision-making skills should students learn? How do we teach students to make good decisions about important questions, such as education spending, employment, or home ownership? How will their abilities to make decisions impact their education & our future workforce? To teach good decision-making, educators should teach students how to avoid mistakes & why we have psychological vulnerabilities that lead us astray. In this session, speakers will discuss the rules of thumb that often lead people to make irrational decisions, guides to good decision-making, & the behavioral biases that psychologists and economists have shown lead people to make mistakes & how to overcome them.

 

Science, Society and Life-Long Learning: Rob Lue, Jason Osborne, Susan Winslow

http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/68182

Are we promoting science as a finite learning experience? How are we communicating the significant scientific shifts & breakthrough research to students & to communities? Educators play a significant part in helping students understand the ongoing role of science in our lives, but leveraging our collective intelligence to build learning communities around societal changes provides a path for life-long learning & inquiry. Speakers will discuss ways to develop students' ownership in their education through creating collaborative cultures between K-12 schools, higher Ed institutions, & industry. Panelists will offer ideas on how to encourage students to create authentic, real-world connections.

 

Student Success: Concept to Scalable Solutions: Paul Gore, A.J Metz

http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/67609

Questions about student success & retention are the buzz in education, but what do we really know about why students succeed or fail? As it turns out - quite a bit! Entry characteristics like past academic performance, exam scores, & demographics are important predictors of success. But recent research suggests that motivational factors are also important. These factors can increase the predictive accuracy of existing models & identify student needs over time. Using the presenters’ collective years of teaching, research, & consulting experience, this session will review recent data on retention strategies, levels of influence in a student’s career & provide scalable strategies for success.

Kindergarten's Lessons on Teaching & Learning: Jim Morris & Melissa Michael

http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/61900

Kindergarten has some surprising lessons for teaching and learning at all levels. Kindergarten classrooms often allow students to ask questions, play and explore, struggle and at times even fail, direct their own learning, and practice skills over time. They foster a child’s curiosity about science and the natural world. Project-based learning is common, where the class works together to build something or solve a problem. But does that continue in K12 and higher education? Or do some of our practices stifle the very curiosity and autonomy we want to encourage? In this session, we explore best kindergarten practices and how to incorporate them at different educational levels and settings.