Skip navigation
All Places > Sapling Learning > Blog
1 2 3 Previous Next

Sapling Learning

37 posts
Becky Anderson

Checklist for Sapling

Posted by Becky Anderson Employee Aug 14, 2019

In an effort to make sure you are all ready to go before classes start, here's a short checklist of how to prepare yourself and your students to use Sapling and SaplingPlus this semester.


Course Set Up – Prior to Term

❏ Bookmark the Sapling log in page:

❏ Attend a training and feel confident in your ability to use Sapling

❏ Learn your username and password (and don’t put it on a post-it note in your office for students to see)

❏ If you are using an LMS in conjunction with Sapling, make sure your integration is set up correctly (and the Client Success Team has been notified of your integration plans). 

❏ Bookmark Instructor Help and know how to contact Customer Support AND the Client Success Team

❏ Set up a new course for the new term. (You can copy your existing course or work with the Client Success team to create a new course.) 

Edit Existing assignments or create new assignments for your students to complete.

❏ Confirm that your assignment settings match the goals of your course.  

❏ Confirm that your course is available for students to enroll into. (The client success team can help you with this.)

❏ Prepare for your First Day of Class with students by using our FDOC tools or by talking to your local representative.


Getting Started with Students - First Day of Class

❏ Provide students with the access information needed to join your course. 

❏ Explain to students why you are having them use Sapling and show how it can benefit them

❏ Make students aware of the three purchase options: purchase now, enter an access code, and pay later. 

❏ Make sure students know when and how to contact Customer Support.  

❏ Make students aware that the full ebook is included in SaplingPlus, and it’s available to be downloaded for reading offline


Gradebook Results and Assessment – During and After the Term

❏ Review the gradebook to identify common student misconceptions and inform course and lecture plans 

❏ Use individual student data for early intervention 

❏ Download my student results from Sapling (or, if using an LMS, from the LMS)

❏ Think about how to change and improve your course for next semester

❏ Review the Macmillan “Webinars on Demand” for new ideas on how to use Sapling in your course.

We are delighted to report that you can now add your TAs (or SIs) to your course without the help of the Client Success Team.


In the left-side menu of your course, if you hover over Course Management, you will see Teaching Assistants. Follow these directions for all the details on how to add a TA and what that role means in your course.


And while you’re looking at the Course Management button, note that you can Duplicate Your Course as well--a handy feature to remember for future semesters! 


I hope this gets your semester off to a good start! Let us know if you need anything else. 

We will be performing system maintenance on Sunday morning July 21st  from 12:01am Eastern until 7am Eastern as well as Friday morning July 26th from 6am to 9am Eastern. Sapling will not be available during these ten hours for students or instructors. Please change any assignment due dates as needed. 

We apologize for the inconvenience, but one of the benefits of this maintenance are some improvements to Sapling. Based on customer feedback, we are making a number of changes to the gradebook in Sapling Learning and SaplingPlus. These updates should be available to users mid-day on Thursday, July 18th. These improvements include:


  • We are making the report names more intuitive, using Gradebook and Student Report instead of Grader and User report. 
  • Clicking on Student Report shows a list of students and the overall grade for each student
    • The list can be sorted by student name or grade
    • The list can be filtered by typing in student names above the list
    • Clicking on a student name goes to the grade report for the individual student
  • The export pages have an improved page to select the grade items included in the file. You can now preview the download as well. In addition, export shows Excel by default.
  • From the gradebook, individual grades can be edited by clicking on the grade. Viewing the submitted work and grade details are available on a menu next to the grade item.
  • Scrolling grades to the side keeps the navigation tabs at the top of the page.
  • When “Show Hidden Items in Gradebook” is set to No, grade items that are hidden (set on Categories and Items) will not be shown on the full Gradebook view.
  • On the Categories and Items page, the icons have been updated. The buttons were moved to the top. The columns for "Keep the highest" and "Drop the lowest" are on the simple view. And Reorder Gradebook has been moved to a button next to the other buttons.


In addition, we are making changes to the Assessments Editor tool.  These updates should be available to users mid-day on Thursday, July 25th. These updates include:

  • Updated visuals and labels throughout for better readability and usability.
  • On the Assessment tab, we renamed “Shared” item sets to “Related Set” for easier understanding. 
  • With regard to re-ordering items, we added a “Reorder” button, restyled the “Move here” and “Move to top/bottom/Pool” target zones, and added animations and highlighting of moving items. 
  • We retired the Settings tab and replaced it with a Grading Settings button on the Assessment tab. We also revamped the policy dropdown to quick-view Template cards (to make life easier) and condensed the canonical system policies to four: Homework; Test/Quiz (formerly Test); Unpenalized (formerly Practice); Student-Comment Quiz (formerly Test with student comments). We also converted other, old canonical policies and custom policies into Custom Templates cards. 


We hope you will find these improvements worth the inconvenience. (We will be updating the help files shortly and your Client Success Team will be able to help with any questions as well.) 

Today we had a release that allowed us to share some much-asked-for changes to the way the homepage in Sapling works.


  • Instructors can now select multiple items on the course home page, including assessments, labels, and resources

  • Selecting multiple items (or single items) allows the items to be moved, deleted, or have the visibility status toggled

  • The move option opens a new menu with an outline of the course showing the possible locations to where the selected items can be moved

Did you know that you can drag and drop items in the Launchpad calendar? Or batch update your settings in Sapling? Do you have the 411 on Achieve Read and Practice?


Whether you know the tips and tricks or not, receiving training from your Learning Solutions Specialist (or LSS for short) will help get you “in the know” on the digital platform you’ll be using this semester and how to best utilize it for your own course goals.


So, who are the Learning Solutions Specialists?

The Learning Solutions Specialists (LSS) are part of the Customer Experience group. Each Learning Solution Specialist is a discipline expert that is responsible for helping instructors have a better experience with Macmillan Products. When speaking to instructors, that LSS can demo the product and give you a preview or give you a full blown training, from content familiarity to functionality and best practices.


Why Should I Meet With An LSS?

45 minutes can change your entire semester. While you may explore your Macmillan product on your own once you have been given access, our LSS team can highlight key functionality that you may have missed and share best practices on how to implement the many learning resources.


There are many benefits to meeting with an LSS:

-1-on-1 Meetings focused on your needs and questions

-Understand the best practices used by many other instructors

-Learn with a guide

-Discover Tips and Tricks

-Start getting your class setup while on the meeting


What Happens After my meeting?

Traditionally, after meeting with the LSS in your discipline, you will be sent a follow-up email that will recap what you spoke about, include technical support info and knowledge article links, as well as an extension of help offered for any further questions you may have about your educational digital platform.


As you can see, there are many benefits for taking time to meet with a Learning Solutions Specialist. This time will be well spent and save you time throughout the semester.


Schedule a demo or training.

Thanks for your usage of Sapling and we hope you’ll continue to work with us. In fact, if you tell us by 4/20/19 that you'll be using Sapling in the summer or fall, we think it will make you healthy, wealthy and wise. How so? Because if you tell us now, then we’ll send you one of our great trade books--and you can choose which one...
Becky Anderson

Moving to HTML5

Posted by Becky Anderson Employee Feb 26, 2019

For Fall 2019 classes, almost all of our Sapling users (except those in Chemical Engineering and Organic Chemistry) will have the option to start using Sapling in HTML5.


What are the benefits of moving to HTML5?

  • With Flash going away, there will be NO PLUGIN needed to run Sapling.
  • Sapling will then run faster on more browsers.   (For the best user experience, we recommend that you run a browser check. Go to to see your status).
  • We will have more accessibility options.
  • HTML5 also provides a better platform for upcoming additions to features and functionality.
  • More modern and intuitive user experience
  • Assignment preview and reset has more options
  • Improved analytics such as item analysis
  • Mobile accessible for tablets and target Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA
  • Previewing assignments is easier
  • Building and editing assignments is easier
  • MolDraw for Lewis structures and molecular geometry


What do you need to do to move to HTML5?

If you are planning on using Sapling for the Fall 2019 semester, the sooner you let the Client Success Team know, the better. They can start building your course now in HTML5 before the start of classes.


How can you get training on this?

Just sign up for one of our training classes sometime this spring!


When do you have to move to HTML5?

Flash will be retired in December 2020, so you will be definitely need to by the end of 2020.



Friday, February 8, 2019 at 2:00 PM ET


While the benefits of a classroom response system in large lecture halls may be obvious, those same benefits can be obtained in smaller, more intimate class of 30 or fewer students. Led by Brian Geislinger of Gadsden State Community College, this webinar will discuss both how iClicker can be effectively used in small classes, as well as the unique challenges that active learning techniques in a smaller group can present.


After earning his PhD in Physics from UAB, Brian Geislinger has taught Physics and Astronomy at Gadsden State Community College for the past 10 years. Brian has been recognized with a number of awards for innovation both in teaching and for the use of technology in his classroom.



If you have students who want to get the print book to go with Sapling or SaplingPlus, please be sure to alert them to the options at the Student Store.


Why rent textbooks from Macmillan Learning?  

Renting textbooks can help students save money throughout their college career. Textbooks rentals are available from 3 months to 1 year—choose the duration that works best. The best part of all? We offer free shipping for all hard-copy textbook rentals with immediate 14-day access to the online e-textbook.


Did you know that you can integrate iClicker into your Sapling or SaplingPlus course to keep all your grades in one place? And that you can use iClicker for attendance? With iClicker, use GPS technology to ensure that students are attending class. No more attendance codes that can be easily shared via text!


Learn more or sign up for a demonstration.

Becky Anderson

First Day of Class

Posted by Becky Anderson Employee Dec 27, 2018

As you start to prep for your next round of classes, don't forget that we have syllabus inserts and presentation decks for you to use to help students get registered with Sapling Learning and SaplingPlus. 


Please view the following presentation slides and download the attached syllabus inserts, input your course information, and share them with your students prior to your first day of class. You can post them in your learning management system, e-mail them, or print them out to distribute in class.

If you want to make any changes to the presentation slides, go to File > Make a copy and edit the copy you create.

Good luck and let us know if you have any questions as you start up classes! 

After we had the new design release this summer, we had a number of customers ask us if we could add an option to hide the 'Upcoming Assignments and Events' box. Voila! That functionality is now available, and it works the same way as hiding does throughout the rest of the site. Get more directions in the Support Community.


In addition, I wanted to remind you that we are happy to get started on building your courses for the Winter or Spring 2018 term now. (We'd rather start early, than get a panicked email from you on January 6!) So, if you would like us to start building your Sapling Learning course for you, can you do one of three things:

   1. Fill out this form.

   2. Let your rep know.

   3. Let your Client Success Specialist know.


We look forward to hearing back from you. 

We now have a basic iClicker integration with Sapling Learning. This means that you can have your students’ cumulative iClicker Reef grade appear within the Sapling gradebook. It's very simple: you can add an activity to your course and include the link from your iClicker course in that activity ID. The directions are here (although most of the actual integration work can be done by your Client Success Specialist, to make it even easier). For only an additional $5, your students can have access to the iClicker Reef mobile Student Response System to make your course more active and engaging. Please let your CSS and your representative know if this is something you want to do for Fall 2017 classes.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to go to a presentation by Sara Goldrick-Rab. You can see the presentation here. Regardless about how you feel about her politics, her statistics about the number of students, especially community college students, who are not only struggling to pay for school (which we all know) but that are, at the same time, experiencing homelessness and food insecurity and hunger was shocking to me. We know that, in pre-K to 12, that there is constant discussion about how students can't learn when they are hungry or when their home life is unstable. And for pre-K-12, there are some existing solutions (like free and reduced school lunch, weekend backpacks of food, etc.) that make a difference. But we haven't gotten to those solutions on a mass scale for higher ed yet, and it's something to think about and work on. Please share any ideas that are working at your school or in your community.  


I used the Sapling online genetics homework system in my class in the fall of 2016. I was greatly impressed with the system—it provides excellent problems, superior feedback to students, great analytics for the instructor, and outstanding customer service.


Here are the top eight things I love about Sapling.

  1. Great questions, each carefully reviewed and vetted.
  2. Excellent functionality. Questions include multiple choice answers, fill in the blank, and drag and drop labeling.
  3. Superior feedback to students, with feedback specific to the wrong answer they provide.
  4. A complete, worked-out solution for each question available after students have submitted their final answer.
  5. Super analytics for the instructor. Easy to see which questions students are getting wrong and why.
  6. The system is intuitive and easy to navigate for both the student and instructor.
  7. Great flexibility for the instructor, with ability to set due dates, points awarded for each question, penalties for multiple incorrect attempts, points deducted for late submissions, etc.
  8. Absolutely fabulous support. A Tech TA (Client Success Specialist) is provided for each course, who works closely with the instructor before and throughout the semester, essentially an additional TA for the course devoted entirely to the digital resources.


Specific Comments:

Sapling provides great functionality for genetics practice problems. The Sapling system includes multiple choice questions, drop and drag labeling, and answers that can be typed in. The questions are well formatted and easy for students to understand. My students appreciated the graphics and simulations that accompany some of the questions, making them interesting and fun. All the questions have been carefully vetted and reviewed; I found no errors in any of the questions or solutions.


Sapling provides superior feedback for students. When a student gives an incorrect solution, the feedback is specific to the wrong answer provided, helping the student to understand their error without giving away the answer. Also, if students are unsure of how to go about answering a question, they can ask for a hint that gets them going in the right direction. Sometimes students arrive at the correct answer without fully understanding the question or the solution. After students have submitted their final answer or given up, the system provides a complete worked-out solution to the problem, which is especially helpful for students first learning how to solve genetics problems. Instructors can adjust the percentage of points awarded for multiple attempts at answering a question. For example, I started off reducing by 5% the points available for each incorrect attempt at answering the question, but found that that was not enough of a penalty to discourage students from guessing before carefully working out the solution. I then raised the penalty for each attempt to 15% and this worked well for my students.  


As the instructor, I found the system easy to manage and navigate. Settings, such as due dates, question selections, points awarded, etc. were intuitive and easy to carry out. The system provides superior analytics to the instructor, enabling me to quickly assess how my students were doing. I especially appreciated the heat maps, which give a quick visual representation of student success with each question. It is also possible to view the incorrect solutions that individual students provided. I found this really helpful when students came in to see me during office hours—I was able to quickly determine where they went wrong and provide feedback.


One of the best features of Sapling is the support. The TechTA that Sapling provides each instructor is literally like having another teaching assistant devoted entirely to managing the digital resources. My Tech TA took my syllabus and textbook, selected appropriate questions, and assigned due dates that that fit my syllabus. He was always available whenever I had a question.