Major corporations across America are running a race towards an imaginary finish line. Seemingly every company is running it, no matter the industry, though at different paces and on uneven terrain. It’s an important race, an essential one, fueled by good-minded people who desire change. Many companies are celebrating the passing of each mile marker, and sometimes passing certain mile markers indeed feels like a big moment. Yet at times the outward appearance that companies project conveys a desire to reach an imaginary finish line when they can claim the moment that racism, prejudice, and bias no longer influence the products they create, the people they hire, or the culture of their workplace.
Macmillan Learning has been running this race for the last few years. To some of our employees the pace has felt feverish, to others looking for change to come faster it has appeared more like a jog, a feeling we were too focused on the marathon ahead. This week at Macmillan Learning has felt more like a sprint. And if we are running fast it is because we have to, because in a particular incident that emerged in the last month, we missed the starter’s gun entirely.
For the last three years, in various formats and detail, Macmillan Learning has been reviewing our course materials with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. One tool at our disposal are audits of our published material. These audits identify inappropriate or outdated uses of language, underrepresentation and overrepresentation of people and perspectives, and subjects that require additional context to increase their pedagogical value. They aren’t employed to remove coverage of controversial subjects, instead they are used to enhance the likelihood of productive discussions about them. Nor do they attempt to impose an ideological point-of-view or a pedagogical norm on our authors, editors, or in the classrooms we support. These audits, and other elements of our editorial guidelines for diversity, equity, and inclusion, provide discipline and structure -- and demand a more diverse outlook as well as the inclusion and participation of broader perspectives to an editorial practice that has been too often informed by a homogenous group - authors, editors, reviewers, and instructors that too commonly can be identified as Western ( and predominately White ), Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic, as has so frequently been articulated in higher ed research.
Our efforts over the last three years have been forward-looking, but we have learned that sometimes when you concentrate on creating a better future you can fail to stop to take care of the present. In February, a school district notified us that a passage in one of our publications was offensive and risked negatively affecting students in their classroom. The passage had already been removed from the forthcoming edition of the book due to be published in late 2021. At issue? An edition of our world history textbook, Ways of the World , included a racial epithet employed in the running narrative of a chapter on British colonialism in India. The epithet was used to demonstrate the depth of racist attitudes that fueled British ideology in India. The epithet included an offensive, contemptuous term historically used to describe a Black person . To the reader, be they Indian, Indian American, Black, or White, the offensive phrase is encountered in the passage without warning or precondition. Its use lacked necessary context and historical reference and appeared more for effect than substance.
The authors’ intent was to demonstrate the far reach of European racism and to expose the largely American audience reading the book to how much racism has shaped the world outside our borders -- how personal it can be felt by people in countries beyond our own. It is a pedagogical goal that I can understand and appreciate. Yet the manner in which this reality was conveyed was unacceptable and carried too much educational risk for its intended benefit. Evaluating pedagogical value is part of our responsibility as a publisher. As editors we are the stewards of our publications, and our stewardship is foundational to the partnership and bond we have with our authors and those that use the educational resources we produce. Our authors are not to blame in this situation. We are. I am. This was an error in judgment exacerbated by publishing processes that did not empower our editors to root out a use of language that is not just disagreeable but which offends and potentially harms. The steps our authors and editors had taken with the upcoming edition corrected the error and recast the entire narrative in this area -- but we cannot miss this opportunity to correct it in the present. Addressing this case only in future printings and editions is not enough.
And so in the last weeks we began this sprint. A sprint to update the language in these titles and ensure that classrooms using our books have access to new versions that reflect our commitment to supporting a pedagogically sound educational environment -- admittedly, a sprint in which we felt like we were chasing the field every day. But we are making progress. By publication of this post, adopters of every edition of Ways of the World in which the offensive reference appears will have been notified and we will have revised the language in all our e-books and online learning platforms. Any student, teacher, or instructor who logs into their e-book or online learning platform will see an updated passage. For schools that purchased print editions of our book, we are providing updated pages and access to the revised chapter and we will work to accommodate school-specific needs as they are identified. No more copies of this book will leave our warehouse or be offered online that include the offensive reference.
What does this mean for Macmillan Learning? It means not pausing to congratulate ourselves for fixing something that should not have occurred. It means continuing to look not only at the products that we produce but the people and culture that produces them. Numerous stories have been published in recent years detailing the lack of racial diversity in the publishing industry and our leadership team and employees at Macmillan Learning have taken them to heart. But what we take to heart requires commensurate action. Events like this one put these facts into starker relief as our leadership team continues to prioritize actions that will create an environment that supports an increasingly diverse workforce so that we can continue to create products and services that better reach an already diverse educational audience, now and in the future. In this specific incident, it has included taking care of our employees who both questioned how this occurred and who were affected by it, no matter their background or position on the issue, though taking greater care to speak to individuals and groups historically targeted by the reference. And we are taking steps to ensure what we learn is carried forward in our products, through an editorial process that emphasizes the inclusion of more voices from differing perspectives, and through a cultural and editorial philosophy that insists we question the status quo and invites people to engage in difficult conversations. There is no finish line to this marathon, but that fact does not make the necessity to pick up our pace any less urgent. And with that effort, each day we can become a better publisher.
Charles Linsmeier Executive Vice President, General Manager Macmillan Learning
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Choosing the right digital learning system is an important consideration for instructors as they plan out their courses -- especially when many classes are taking place remotely. More than just a place to read an e-textbook or complete homework, these systems are interactive tools used by students to complete assignments, track grades, connect with instructors, take quizzes or other self-assessment tools, and more. Susan Hendrickson, Teaching Professor in Chemistry at the University of Colorado
With the launch of Macmillan Learning’s new digital learning platform Achieve, instructors have been making the switch from Sapling, one of the more popular systems for STEM instructors and students. We spoke to Susan Hendrickson , Teaching Professor in Chemistry at the University of Colorado, about her experiences teaching students in her virtual classroom. We also asked her about her experience transitioning from Sapling to Macmillan Learning’s new digital learning system Achieve last fall for her Gen Chem 2 class and this spring for her Gen Chem 1 class.
What have been some challenges with online learning since classes went virtual? How have you addressed them?
Making meaningful connections- between instructors and students, as well as between students- has been very challenging. I think students are more engaged, responsive and motivated when they connect with their instructor and classmates. I try to share a little bit about myself or something funny from the news at the start of class to lighten the mood. This works with some students but not with others.
Another challenge is keeping students organized and able to complete their assignments on-time. They seem to be struggling with their calendars more than usual. Every day and every class must feel the same from their bedroom so they just seem to lose track of what day it is. I have had to step up my own calendaring and To-Do list skills too! I feel like I’ve done more coaching about making schedules and sticking to them since going virtual.
Why did you first decide to use online tools in your class?
Class size! Although I would love to SEE their work and be able to give them personalized feedback. With sections of 100 – 400 and whole courses with enrollments of 600 – 1,000, that’s just not possible. Online homework allows them to practice, get immediate feedback and work according to their own schedules. Otherwise we couldn’t require homework.
People are hesitant to embrace change, but what would you say are the benefits of moving to Achieve vs your experience in Sapling?
There are a few things that I love about Achieve. I love that the grades are synced between Achieve and Canvas. This has saved me about an hour every Tuesday and Saturday morning alone. I also love that they can use a link in Canvas to access the Achieve resources – assignments as well as reading. This might have been possible in Sapling but we didn’t have it set up.
Honestly Achieve isn’t that much different than Sapling – same assignments, same questions (mostly). It wasn’t that much of a change content-wise so the transition has been easy.
How have students responded to Achieve?
I switched with a group of students last spring (Gen Chem 1) in Sapling to this fall (Gen Chem 2) in Achieve and they transitioned with no issues. I don’t think they saw it as a dramatic change since the assignments themselves looked the same. I know they like how easy it is to access the assignments and readings with two clicks from Canvas.
This interview is part of a series focusing on how digital learning is being used in college classrooms and, in particular, what the transition to Achieve has been like.
About Achieve: Macmillan Learning built its new digital learning platform Achieve to help students of all abilities and backgrounds succeed. It offers the content, tools and insights about student success to do just that. Achieve was designed with active learning in mind, and can be used in traditional, online, hybrid, blended, or a fully “flipped” classroom, with options for both synchronous and asynchronous learning to support engagement. It was co-designed with more than 7,000 students and over 100 leading educators and learning scientists both at our company and on our independent review boards. Learn more about Achieve .
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Choosing the right digital learning system is an important consideration for instructors as they plan out their courses -- especially when many classes are taking place remotely. More than just a place to read an e-textbook or complete homework, these systems are interactive tools used by students to complete assignments, track grades, connect with instructors, take quizzes or other self-assessment tools, and more. Each system has different strengths and offers different pedagogical approaches.
With the launch of Macmillan Learning’s new digital learning platform Achieve , instructors have been making the switch from Sapling, one of the more popular systems for STEM instructors and students. The Achieve platform includes an interactive e-Book as well as expansive learning materials with pre-class, in-class and post-class activities. We asked Dr. Tony Hascall , a Chemistry Professor at Northern Arizona University, about digital learning and his switch to Achieve for Interactive General Chemistry .
People are hesitant to embrace change, but what would you say are the benefits of moving to Achieve vs your experience in Sapling?
The main benefit is that Achieve is better integrated with the textbook and gives you the ability to assign readings from the textbook as well as links to videos, simulations etc.
The library of questions is exactly the same, including LearningCurve (adaptive quizzing), but Achieve allows readings etc. to be assigned for credit. Achieve also has a more modern, less cluttered appearance and makes it clear for students to see what assignments have upcoming due dates.
You mentioned that you give students pre-class, in-class and post-class work -- how does technology like LMS, Achieve and iClicker fit into that?
I have found that students don’t tend to do assignments unless they count for some points in the class. Achieve allows readings from the textbook to be assigned for credit. I also post asynchronous video lectures on YouTube, which can also be assigned on Achieve, as well as links to other resources such as PhEt simulations. These can be assigned pre-class to allow students to come to class prepared for active learning activities. And of course homework can be assigned as post-class work.
The LMS has mainly been useful during removed learning for posting materials that would have been handed out on paper in class. I have also used it for exams
One benefit to digital learning is the insights you get about student performance. What kind of feedback do you get and how do you use it?
I mainly use this to identify students who are struggling or not doing work early in the semester to try to change their habits before it is too late.
Why did you first decide to use online tools in your class?
Since my classes have been quite large, I did not want to assign paper homework each week due to the large amount of time needed to grade. But it is important that students practice the material outside of class. Online tools allow students to be given assignments that are graded automatically and provide students with instant feedback and hints.
Also I believe that students tend not to read traditional paper textbooks anymore, so having an electronic textbook that is integrated with the online system, as is the case with Achieve is very effective.
What have been some challenges with online learning since classes went virtual? How have you addressed them?
I would say the two major challenges have been trying to do active learning in a remote format, and giving exams.
I have tried putting students in Zoom breakout rooms, but with large classes, it is really not the same as having students working together in the classroom and being able to walk around the room and look at students’ work and help them
As for exams, I have tried as much as possible to write “Google-proof” questions to try to ensure that students are being tested on what they have learned, not just what they can look up.
This interview is part of a series focusing on how digital learning is being used in college classrooms and, in particular, what the transition to Achieve has been like.
About Achieve: Macmillan Learning built it’s new digital learning platform Achieve to help students of all abilities and backgrounds succeed. It offers the content, tools and insights about student success to do just that. Achieve was designed with active learning in mind, and can be used in traditional, online, hybrid, blended, or a fully “flipped” classroom, with options for both synchronous and asynchronous learning to support engagement. It was co-designed with more than 7,000 students and over 100 leading educators and learning scientists both at our company and on our independent review boards. Learn more about Achieve .
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When incoming freshmen dreamed of going to college, they likely envisioned attending classes in person with peers, hanging out with their newly-made friends in a dorm, and attending events for clubs and organizations regularly. For many of them, that is not the first-year experience they got when they began college this fall. A survey of students by Student Monitor this fall found that among on campus learners, 87% agree that “The social aspect of traditional on campus classroom learning is very important to me.”
To support a better experience, colleges that offer First-Year Experience courses have been proactively addressing how to help create a sense of belonging for students. Macmillan Learning facilitated a conversation with Your College Experience authors and first-year experience experts John Gardner & Betsy Barefoot to better understand how colleges, instructors and administrators can “face the unknown.” From that conversation, nine ideas emerged for helping to support and engage with students who are starting their college journey during these tumultuous times.
Establish what students need. According to Gardner, national data suggests that students need information that gives them more certainty and helps them make decisions. Instructors can help students reflect on the year they had and what they may want to do differently.
Recognize students’ journey. This upcoming fall will be the first time that large numbers of students will be reconvening in person after the pandemic, tumultuous election campaign and civil unrest of the past year. Instructors should have a pulse on the issues and their impact on their students.
Help students find their purpose. Students are worried about family, economics, what they’ll do after they graduate, and even whether college was worth it. Help them go back to the sense of purpose -- why they’re attending school and what they hope to gain and what college will do for them. “You can help them understand all the ways college can change their lives for the better,” Barefoot said.
Cultivate a sense of belonging . “The basic human need that has not been met for the past year is belonging,” Gardner said. Specifically, belonging in groups. FYE programs are a group -- and may be the only group -- that can help them to foster this sense.
Students need to feel like they matter. With so much going on, many students don’t feel as if their voices are being heard. There are some simple and effective ways to help them feel seen including: using their names in class, emailing them individually, having them submit a weekly report on how they’re doing, and responding to them individually. According to Barefoot, “Student-centered teaching helps to show them that they matter. They learn from and listen to their peers.”
Focus more on the tangible things with critical thinking . Help students focus on the future by focusing on the things that they can impact and change. One instructor commented, “I do want them to realize they are our future and need to begin to develop critical thinking on today's situation, so they’re prepared as adults.”
Have the classroom be a safe space or sanctuary. One instructor noted that they have an agreed-upon policy that the classroom is a safe place to share and that anything shared in the classroom stays in the classroom. This also creates a space where students can learn from each other.
Check in with your students. There are a variety of ways that FYE programs have been doing this, from asking students to create weekly journals, to one-to-one emails asking how students are doing, to emoji scales that provide prompts for conversations. This outreach to students helps them to feel heard and can help foster a sense of belonging.
Encourage students that are struggling to seek help. “The students often that need the most help are the least likely to go get it,” Gardner said. Getting help, even virtually, is typically free in college and is confidential. Help reduce the stigma for mental health and point out that the students that get help are more likely to persist.
To get more tips on how to create a supportive First-Year Experience for students, visit our College Success Instructor Community or view resources for students in our COVID-19 Student Toolkit . Find more at our College Success Resources page.
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The Department of Economics at The University of Missouri – Columbia was this year's inaugural winner of the AEA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diversity and Inclusion. This award is given to recognize departments and organizations demonstrating outstanding achievement in diversity and inclusion practices. To learn more about the award-winning program, we talked to Dr. Eric Parsons, an associate teaching professor of economics at the University of Missouri, who teaches Principles of Microeconomics to nearly 2,000 students each year.
Marisa Bluestone: The University of Missouri Department of Economics expressed a purposeful determination to create a more open and welcoming learning environment for under-represented students. How did you come up with the plan to do that? Dr. Eric Parsons: Improving outcomes for under-represented students is an issue that has rightfully received much attention and discussion in recent years. This is perhaps even more true in economics, which historically does not have a good track record on these issues. Hence, the first step was recognizing the problem and then actively looking for opportunities to implement initiatives designed to improve performance in this regard.
One of the first developments was the creation of the Diversity in Economics seminar series, which leveraged our departmental research seminar series as a platform to invite economists from diverse backgrounds to campus to present their research but also to speak to my large-lecture introductory economics classes and meet with smaller groups of students outside of class. The ultimate goal of these interactions was to spark interest in economics among all of my students and particularly those who may not traditionally consider economics as a field of study. The seminar series has been a great success and even received significant social media attention when our first speaker, Damon Jones (University of Chicago), tweeted about his visit . Subsequent guests have included Lisa Cook (Michigan State), Anne Winkler (UMSL), Peter Blair (Harvard), Jennifer Doleac (Texas A&M), Trevon Logan (Ohio State), and Laura Gee (Tufts). Conrad Miller (UC-Berkeley) was also scheduled to visit, but his trip was postponed due to the global pandemic.
Another key initiative in this program came about through our College of Arts & Science development of diversity-intensive course offerings. Following a redesign of the course curriculum to highlight diversity intensive topics (more on this below), we were able to have our Principles of Microeconomics course designated as Inherently Diversity Intensive. The department has also implemented a variety of other programs and policy changes designed to support our diversity and inclusivity goals, including the development of a mentorship program that includes mentors from a diverse array of backgrounds, the appointment of a Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the creation of a Women in Economics Group and a Freshman Interest Group on Economics and Social Problems.
Marisa: You re-designed your Principles of Microeconomics course curriculum to highlight diversity-related topics. Can you give an example of one of the changes you made? Eric: What’s great about economics, particularly if it is taught through a public policy lens as is frequently the case in the Cowen and Tabarrok text, is that it provides many opportunities to tie the course concepts to diversity-related topics and questions. In fact, almost every chapter has one or more connections along these lines. As one example, the textbook uses the War on Drugs to illustrate an important policy implication of the total revenue rule of demand elasticity – specifically, in a market where consumers are not price sensitive (in this case, due to drug addiction) policies designed to restrict supply of the product ultimate increase the amount of revenue received by producers (drug sellers). The analysis of this issue then leads to an examination of alternative policy solutions to the drug problem and provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the disparate impacts that the War on Drugs has had on different communities and how well-designed policy changes may help improve these negative outcomes.
Marisa: One of the goals of the AEA award of "Outstanding Achievement in Diversity and Inclusion" that your department won is to increase participation of underrepresented minorities. What changes have you seen in that regard Eric: As with any initiative of this nature, the progress is often not as fast as we would like, and we still have much work left to do. That said, these efforts combined with other departmental programs designed to enhance recruiting and improve our student experiences have led us to realize a 44% increase in overall student credit hours and a near doubling of undergraduate majors and master’s students in just over a two-year period.
Marisa: What role did the Modern Principles of Economics course materials play in supporting the new curriculum? Eric: As mentioned above, Modern Principles of Economics is an excellent textbook to use in supporting the new diversity-intensive curriculum as it is well-written, uses interesting and timely examples, and includes lots of policy-related examples to illustrate the key economic concepts. Moreover, it is clear that the authors c are about these issues and have put thought and effort into their inclusion.
For example, the textbook includes an extended treatment of labor market discri mination that goes beyond the traditional economic model to include models of discrimination that are not necessarily competed away by the market over time. The Cowen and Tabarrok textbook really does provide much of the overall framework for our course and, as a result, was an important factor in our achieving the diversity-intensive designation.
Marisa: How was the Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy section used to facilitate conversations about diversity? Eric: This is another chapter of the textbook that I think really illustrates the authors’ willingness to address these important issues and make them part of the economic conversation. It is also a chapter that I think is unique among Principles textbooks (at least the ones that I have examined, which covers quite a few). This chapter directly exposes students to questions of exploitation and fair and equal treatment and also introduces them to the work of John Rawls, as well as other social justice paradigms. It also includes a discussion of whose views generally count the most in the policy process (in the context of immigration) and, with some additional questioning along these lines, allows students the opportunity to explore their own (sometimes contradictory) viewpoints on this question. Hence, overall the chapter provides a great springboard for thinking about these issues and how these ideas compare and contrast with the typical economic viewpoint.
I always tell the students that this chapter is more about getting them to think critically about the topics and begin asking questions than it is about providing answers. It also gives another nice opportunity to highlight the positive versus normative distinction that we take so seriously in economics and hopefully provides students with some of the tools they will need to discuss these issues intelligently and civilly with one another while considering other viewpoints and worldviews. In fact, I think this chapter is so important that I save it until the end of the term, as it provides an excellent bookend to our semester’s worth of economic study.
If you are interested in learning more about the University of Missouri’s Diversity-Intensive Principles of Microeconomics curriculum or their efforts in this regard more generally, please feel free to contact Eric Parsons at email@example.com.
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I am thrilled to announce an important new team member has joined Macmillan Learning; Coltrane Stansbury is now our Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). In this newly created role, Coltrane will lead our diversity and inclusion strategy and programs as well as amplify the work the company is doing in support of our people, programs and culture. He’ll be reporting directly to our Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Kristin Peikert.
Creating an increasingly diverse and inclusive company is a core strategic goal for Macmillan Learning. While there has been much work and progress since we launched our initial grassroots D&I initiative in 2017, we knew we needed an experienced DEI leader with big ideas to help us broaden our efforts and help us come closer to fully realizing our vision. Our employee volunteers helped us to create the foundation for change through increased awareness, education, and engagement, and Coltrane is the leader that will help our initiatives flourish and make a lasting impact.
Coltrane approaches inclusion and outreach in a holistic manner, creatively thinking about how programs can affect change in ways that tie closely to the mission of the business. Importantly, he has a passion for equity in education and already has many ideas on how we can foster internal growth and work in the educational community to engage all learners throughout their educational journey.
Making impactful change is part of Coltrane’s DNA. He is an experienced DEI leader with an extensive background in business, policy, and community outreach. He comes most recently from Becton Dickinson & Co, PSEG, and Johnson & Johnson, where he was responsible for building DEI programs from the ground up. Coltrane is very active in his community, working with local schools, civic leagues, and the United Way.
Here’s what Coltrane had to say about his new role at Macmillan Learning: “A good education provides the nation’s youth with opportunities that would have not been otherwise available to them; especially underserved students, and students that come from a place of disadvantage. Working at Macmillan Learning allows me to contribute to their education, and in the process help students’ lives flourish.”
This is an important moment, with so much momentum building towards a more equal society and culture. Our goal is to help all learners succeed. To that end, we’re proud to further move forward Macmillan Learning’s commitment to DEI in a meaningful way and are excited for Coltrane’s leadership during our journey.
Susan Winslow is President of Macmillan Learning
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By Natasha Wolfe and @RachelComerford
This past October, the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) hosted a Town Hall focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the publishing industry. BISG works to create a more informed, empowered and efficient book industry. Their broad membership includes trade, education, professional and scholarly publishers, as well as distributors, wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers, service providers and libraries. Opening remarks were delivered by Tracie D. Hall, Executive Director of the American Library Association.
The tone of the meeting was constructive, and focused on solutions to better support diversity and equity in the publishing industry. As Kelvin Watson, Director of Broward County Libraries Division, said during the Town Hall, “Let’s not commiserate about this. Let’s solve it.” Tracie Hall, the discussion’s moderator, challenged BISG to "diversify the ranks of trade, education, professional, and scholarly publishers, as well as those of distributors, wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and library leaders."
Recruitment was an important topic of conversation throughout the meeting. The team had a few suggestions including establishing better recruitment practices. Suggestions included revising job descriptions for inclusivity, raising entry level salaries to support living in cities like New York, and training managers in interview techniques that prevent unconscious bias. Furthermore, by expanding recruitment locations to include remote locations and broadening the onboarding requirements to include the potential for hiring people without a publishing background, a more diverse workforce can be cultivated.
Ellen Bush, Chair of the Association of University Presses’ Equity (AUP), noted that numerous workplace studies suggest that as employees rank increases, the proportion of minorities in those roles decreases. The panelists noted that by waiting for these same entry levels to move up to the senior leadership levels it will take decades before companies will have diverse leadership teams. Companies can better support BIPOC employees by helping them to move up the chain when new opportunities arise. She noted that when mid-level managers leave, the position is often shifted to a more junior level, which does not allow for promotion from within the publishing ranks.
Bush also noted that we need to create more opportunities for feedback and to be open to constructive criticism from the BIPOC community. “In traditional hierarchies of organizational power, the people in charge are not the ones who get to define what’s equitable. Those with institutional power must be accountable to those who have been traditionally excluded from that power.” She reminded us all that “Trust must be earned everyday. It can break; it can be repaired; but it must always be earned.”
The panel suggested that diversity programs that get results are the ones that forgo control tactics and frame efforts more positively. April Powers, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), supported this with data from the Harvard Business Review that identified percent change over five years in representation among managers. For example, programs focusing on recruitment of minorities out of college saw a 7.7% increase in representation of black male managers and an 8.9% increase in black female managers.
There was a shared frustration reported across attendees that too often, inclusivity policies and measurements are kept private and not released to employees or the community. Many attendees noted that companies are hesitant to do this because it can reveal alarming shortcomings; however these revelations can catapult companies toward accountability in their commitment to make improvements and give visibility to how they change over time. Understanding where you are as an organization is key to identifying the changes that need to be made, and finding appropriate solutions. Many attendees and presenters discussed the importance of working with other organizations so the entire industry can benefit.
Angela Bole, CEO of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), acknowledged that addressing DEI shortcomings can be scary, and spoke to some common roadblocks that companies and individuals experience when talking about these issues. She mentioned that often, a person will ask themselves if they are really the right person to tackle these issues and they will experience a kind of imposter syndrome. Bole reminded attendees that the responsibility lives with all of us. There are many existing resources, documentation and tools to help any employee get started. See below for just a handful.
Ultimately, the meeting reinforced that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity need to be normalized in the workplace. To do that, there should be standards applied across all areas of business. Some recommendations include using pronouns with our names in Zoom meetings, making meetings and documentation accessible, embracing gender neutrality, and remembering and implementing the art of translation.
At Macmillan Learning/BFW High School, our goal is to include diverse voices in all that we do. We believe that the best companies reflect the incredible diversity in viewpoints, backgrounds, and identities of the world in their staffs, and are committed to inclusive hiring across departments and levels. By embracing these values we are better equipped to show students and instructors that we strive to produce culturally responsive pedagogy and want to ensure everyone is respected and included.
For the presentations, chat transcript, and a recording from the BISG presentation, check out https://bisg.org/page/DiversityEquityInclusion . A summary is posted here: https://bisg.org/news/news.asp?id=535098 .
Other helpful resources for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from the town hall are below.
BIPOC: What does it mean and where does it come from?
Frida Polli’s service offering
5 Free Tools to Write Better Job Descriptions
Conscious Style Guide, the first website devoted to conscious language.
Tools for Diversifying Your Staff and Sources
The Editors of Color site also has a "Database of Diverse Databases" page they're developing: https://editorsofcolor.com/diverse-databases/
New Resource to Combat Racial Bias Now Available for Scholarly Publishing Professionals: The Antiracism Toolkit for Allies
The Word, A Storytelling Sanctuary
The Diversity Executive Leadership Academy
Diversity Training University International- Talent Management, Training Services, & Organizational Consulting
The BIPOC Bookshelf- THE BOOKSHELF is a free database uplifting fiction & select nonfiction books/titles by BIPOC & underrepresented authors.
Inkcluded- An inclusive literary community championing diversity in publishing.
Reach out firstname.lastname@example.org
Minorities in Publishing (podcast)- #Podcast by @jbakernyc featuring underrepresented folks in #publishing.
https://synd.io/ and what they’re doing (Big Data approach to pay equity analysis)
The Festival of Literary Diversity https://thefoldcanada.org/
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The following piece was written by Macmillan Learning Communications Intern Samra Karamustafic. Samra @samrak is a Journalism major at Cleveland State University and aspires to work as an editor in book publishing.
If you ask a group of students for their thoughts on online learning, you’d most likely get very mixed answers that fall along the “love it” or “hate it” spectrum. While some students may miss the face-to-face interaction with their professors and peers, other students might enjoy the flexibility of creating a schedule that works for them. With nearly 34% of colleges being primarily online this semester , this generation of college students is facing an experience like no other.
However, while it may be challenging at times, the pros of online learning can provide students with skills that can benefit them long after their college years and into their future careers. Some of these valuable benefits include:
1. Better time-management skills
With a world as fast-paced as ours, being able to manage your time effectively is an incredibly advantageous skill for anybody to have, especially for someone fresh out of college. Future employers want productive employees working for their company -- people who come in and use the time they have constructively to get as much work done as they can before they clock out.
With online learning, students can refine their time-management skills because they are in charge of planning their semester and keeping tabs on due dates and exam dates. As Northeastern University writes, because “students have the flexibility to create their own schedules, it’s up to the student to proactively reach out to faculty, complete assignments on time, and plan ahead. ” Any employer values an individual that can prioritize and use their time wisely.
2. A chance to hone your communication skills
Franklin University notes that with online learning, “you'll enhance your ability to communicate effectively through the latest technology.“ But how? Well, online learning requires students to strengthen their communication skills through all kinds of technology, like Zoom, Google Meet, discussion boards, and more. With minimal to no face-to-face interaction with instructors, it pushes students to reach out to their professors with any questions they may have through email and to answer promptly. As the job market continues to change and offer more remote-work opportunities, being able to communicate through different platforms and software is a relevant skill for anyone in any career field to have.
3. More opportunities to review course material
Imagine that you’re in class and your instructor is going through a lesson laden with information. You’re trying your best to scribble down as much information as possible, but as you’re looking back at your notes at the end of class, you realize that there is still so much you didn’t get a chance to jot down. What was once a common experience for many students in a traditional classroom setting is nearly nonexistent in the world of online learning.
With the flexibility of virtual learning, many professors are aware of the fact that college students have varying schedules and may not be able to make it to all of their classes. Thus, thanks to the recording feature on Zoom and other video chatting platforms, professors can record their lectures and post them online for students to catch up or review if needed. Not only does this allow students to review the material, but as Oxford Learning states, it allows students to “spend more time on areas that are challenging .”
Nobody likes staring at a screen for hours on end and solely using Zoom to communicate with peers and instructors. But, as with everything else that has altered drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students must adjust and make the most out of the situation as is. On the bright side, once the pandemic is over, students will return to normalcy with more newly acquired skills than when we started.
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November is Native American Heritage Month. To help celebrate it, Macmillan Learning invited Native American Historian & Director of Cultural Affairs for the Stockbridge Munsee Community Heather Brugel to talk with us about Native American influence on our culture and the important history that shaped our nation.
Marisa Bluestone: Sitting Bull, Pocahontas, and Crazy Horse are some of the more familiar Native American names. What other Native Americans should students learn more about? Heather Bruegl: There are so many! Red Cloud was a Lakota leader who was instrumental in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. Susan La Fleshe was the first female Native American doctor. Wilma Mankiller was the first female principle chief of the Cherokee Nation. Black Elk was a Lakota Holy man. Mary Golda Ross was the first female Native American engineer and she worked for NASA on the space program! There are just so many that it is hard to name just a few.
Marisa: Why were blood quantum laws established, and are they still in use today? Heather: The concept of blood quantum was established on paper as early as the 1700’s when the Virginia Colony started to write laws prohibiting the Native tribes in the area from being able to marry whites, hold public office, etc.
The idea as we know it today came around in the 1930’s with the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act or the Indian New Deal. There what it meant to be ‘Indian’ was defined. And to go a step further, the government sent out anthropologists to measure the faces and judge the color of Native Americans to determine whether or not they met the government standards of being ‘Indian’.
Blood quantum is used today to determine tribal membership. Each tribal nation has their own requirements needed for membership and that varies from Nation to Nation. Blood quantum is an emotional topic and can bring up many feelings. It isn’t something to just talk about casually. There are real life consequences to blood quantum. It is a topic that divides Nations and families.
Heather Brugel Marisa: How does modern DNA testing play into blood quantum? Heather: From what I understand, DNA doesn’t play a role. DNA just tells you your ancestry, it doesn’t give you your blood quantum. That can only come from tracing your lineage and using either government or tribal rolls.
Marisa: How do Native Americans continue to influence our culture today? Heather: I think the heart of the United States starts in Indian Country. We may have small numbers, but we are mighty and have the power to sway elections as we just saw in 2020. We make our voices heard and hopefully influence the country with our history, tradition and cultures. ( Editor’s note. See articles from ABC news and Color Lines for additional information about the impact.)
Marisa: It's Native American Heritage Month -- what are some good ways to learn about their history and culture? Heather: There are some great documentaries out there that are available on many streaming services. Some of my favorites are Trudell, A Good Day to Die, Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock, and Reel Injun. Some books that I love are An Indigenous People's History of the United States , The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee and Lakota Woman . I would also recommend visiting the websites of tribal nations. We have so much to share with you and many times we have our histories right on our websites.
It is so important to learn about the history of Native Nations. We were the first peoples and oftentimes our history is overlooked. While it is great to learn about us and recognize Native American Heritage Month, it is super important to know we exist the other 11 months of the year!
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Economics has changed since COVID began. This is true both of the field itself and also the way that instructors are teaching students.
At this year’s EconEd , an annual conference and community built by instructors coming together to improve the teaching of economics, Justin Wolfers discussed seven ways that the pandemic has changed economics. In addition to being a scholar and economics instructor at the University of Michigan, he is also the author of Principles of Economics , which teaches students foundational economics that help them to make better decisions in their own lives.
Check out the different ways economics has changed, and some tips about how to talk about and teach economics, in a world where learning about theoretical widgets no longer makes sense.
1. The era of big data has arrived. The items we use every day, from our cell phones to credit cards, are being used to track consumer spending in a way that’s far more advanced than the methods we’ve used in the past -- like BLS data. For example, our work habits are being tracked by the likes of ADP, which can check on the amount of payrolls processed, and Google, which can track your location and discover whether you are physically going into the workplace.
The implication on teaching : Big data changes what we think about economic theory. Whereas before we used it to “fill in” when data was missing, now economic theory is a framework for interpreting data. Economic theory should now inform measurement. Inflation is an example, with data showing that it doesn’t appear to have changed much. But if you think about how much money it would take to live the same quality of life as a year ago -- it’s clear that it has.
2.Economics must extend beyond the market. We lost nearly a trillion in output from COVID-19, but the costs extend beyond that. Costs should include, among other things, mental health, long-term health damage, and premature death.
The implication on teaching: We need to move beyond the widget factory. Everyday decisions are economic decisions, and non-market choices are central to economics, like childcare, education and whether we work from home. We’ve seen these decisions play out during the pandemic in macro policies in the lives-vs.-livelihood debate, where we question just how much we should stay on lockdown to benefit our health if it comes at a cost to the economy.
3. Interdependence is pervasive . What we do impacts other people, what other people do impacts us. If you catch COVID, it could harm me or my friends.
The implication on teaching: We should emphasize interdependence in teaching. The standard way of interdependence only analyzes it through the market, but we need to show a richer sense of it.
4. Aggregate demand and aggregate supply shocks are not so different. The initial impetus of COVID was a supply shock. But it set in motion an aggregate demand shock, which has a lot of implications.
The implication on teaching: The sharp distinction between supply and demand may not be as sharp as we once believed. Because of that, the aggregate demand/aggregate supply framework may not be as useful as we once thought. It may be time to rethink how we teach the role of aggregate demand and aggregate supply analysis in analyzing the business cycle.
5. Unconventional monetary policy is now conventional . The interest rate has been at or near zero for over a decade and the Fed said they would keep the nominal interest rate at zero until 2023. Also, the Fed abandoned open market operations in 2008.
The implication on teaching: We need to change how we teach monetary policy to emphasize the tools the Fed actually uses. For example, the “floor framework” now sets interest rates.
6. The economy is resilient, yet flawed. The economy has been more resilient than most of us would have imagined. Food supply has remained robust and production lines have been repurposed and have evolved. Alcohol companies, for example, began producing hand sanitizer. But the economy is also flawed, because prosperity is fragile and insurance is imperfect. Shocks can be both large and far too frequent.
The implication on teaching: We should teach a realistic version of economics, by teaching about the economy that students observe instead of stylized frictionless models. We should teach them about an economy where people and businesses adapt, and that the economy has adapted to changing circumstances.
7. Economics has never been more useful . Basic economic principles have guided policy debates, and economics has helped make sense of the world. Our students will graduate into a fragile economy and the tools of economics can help them navigate their new normal.
The implication on teaching: We should continue to teach useful economics so that students can see the role they will play in the economy and help them make better decisions. At a time when the stakes are high, what we teach them matters, and we can use economics to help to transform their lives.
To see Justin’s presentation during EconEd, click here. For a full list of panelists and sessions, click here.
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The following piece was written by Macmillan Learning Communications Intern Samra Karamustafic. Samra (@samrak) is a Journalism major at Cleveland State University and aspires to work as an editor in book publishing.
2020 has undeniably been a year of change and adjustment for us all, especially when it comes to education. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, school desks and whiteboards have been swapped out for kitchen tables and Chromebook screens, and raised hands have turned into simply unmuting oneself on a Zoom call.
With such drastic changes in the typical school setting come changes in the types of learning materials that are being put to use, too. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, out of 3000 colleges, approximately 10% are fully online . It comes as no surprise, then, that the digital textbook market is projected to experience a major boost in revenue between the years 2020 and 2027.
Digital textbooks, or e-books, have been introduced into many schools' learning curriculums as early as 2009 . Since then, educators, students, and school administrators alike have seen the benefits that e-books have to offer that their print counterparts lack. For starters, students can enjoy immediate access to the book once they purchase it or are granted access to it by their school’s administrator. This comes in handy for college students who need access to their books before the semester begins because it diminishes the need to worry about any potential shipping complications.
At the start of this year's fall semester, many bookstores ran into an overload of shipment delays due to COVID-19 . This left many college students anxious and questioning whether or not they would receive their necessary materials in time. With digital textbooks, the second the buyer clicks that "complete purchase” button, they've got the entire book at their fingertips in minutes.
Many e-books also offer additional features that can be incredibly beneficial for students and educators alike. Take our Achieve platform as an example: students can receive access to not just their e-books, but to helpful videos and personalized quizzes that can help them tackle the topics they are struggling with as well. This provides an immersive experience for the student and it gives teachers greater insight into what topics their students are struggling with, which allows them to devote class time to go over these topics.
Students can enjoy the portability of digital textbooks in addition to the convenience of immediate access and engagement. Gone are the days of lugging textbooks from class to class. With e-books, students can access all of their books from one spot: their computer! Parents can benefit from the portability, too; with e-books, they can rest assured knowing that they won't have to worry about hearing the 4 dreaded words from their child: "I lost my textbook."
Even though there has been a significant push toward digital textbooks, that doesn’t mean that schools and colleges have turned their backs on printed textbooks. Before the start of this school year, many schools gave students the option of attending in-person classes or going virtual; those who chose virtual learning had a few days before the first day of school to come and pick up the required textbooks that they could use at home. Many college students still went ahead and ordered print materials for this upcoming semester as well, and those that live on campus still have the option of visiting their campus library to borrow a textbook. However, COVID-19 has altered and slowed the process of borrowing textbooks. Inside Higher Ed found that many libraries across the country are quarantining returned items for 72 hours before making them available to borrow again, to ensure that no traces of the virus are on the materials before they go to another individual.
Although digital textbooks have been making their way into a growing number of schools over the last decade, the massive shift into online learning for a majority of the nation this year may have been the final push they needed. What does this mean for old-school print textbooks - will they phase out slowly, or continue existing alongside e-books? It seems that we will have to wait and see, but for now, students and teachers can tailor their materials to fit their needs - whether that's with a digital or a printed textbook.
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People watching has become my favorite pastime during the pandemic. I watch out my window while a woman does yoga on her rooftop. Down below on the street there are bike riders, street cleaners, essential workers commuting, and morning runners. From my perch, I can make stories for each of them based on what I see. But what about what I can’t see? Does the woman doing yoga have a new heart? Does that runner have Crohn’s Disease? Is that nurse headed to work dyslexic?
Too often, when people think about disabilities, they imagine individuals in wheelchairs, or a person with a guide dog … and while some disabilities are visible, many are not. These are invisible disabilities, which the Invisible Disabilities Association defines as “a physical, mental or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside, yet can limit or challenge a person’s movements, senses, or activities.” And if we are not careful, they can limit a person’s educational opportunities.
According to the National Service And Inclusion Project , among all people with disabilities of working age (29.4 million), 52% are employed. An accessible education is not the only change needed but it’s one important step in helping to increase that number.
Because disabilities are not always visible, it can be a challenge to create assignments and workloads that support all students. It’s an especially challenging time during COVID, where much of learning is taking place remotely. We put together some tips to help instructors support accessibility and all student learning, including those with disabilities they may not be able to see.
Tip One: Sometimes, students with invisible disabilities are perceived as lacking in intelligence, not paying attention, or even lazy. While some students will choose to disclose a disability to instructors, many will not. And, even if your student does share that they have a disability, they are not required to give you the details. Assuming that a student that isn’t achieving with the existing course structure is anything but doing their best is a dangerous path to go down. Work with these students to identify the points where they are struggling. It’s possible that being easily distracted or frequent bathroom trips might mean that they need extra time on tests. Chronic pain or fatigue may mean that a student needs extra time to turn over assignments or opportunities to use alternative formats. In Macmillan Learning’s course platform, Achieve, instructors can create student exceptions for assignment deadlines .
Tip Two: Find course materials that all students can use. For example, Macmillan Learning produces e-books in EPUB3 format and include accessibility metadata, short and long alt text, clear structure and organization, and a variety of navigation methods including page and heading navigation. The e-books reflow and respond to magnification, so the text is readable at 200% magnification. We also prioritize keyboard navigation and reading order in our e-book development. Macmillan Learning has a policy that allows 10 pages to be printed at a time and the copy/pasting of 2 pages at a time. And of course, beginning in 2019, all our e-books are Global Certified Accessible by Benetech . Bringing products that are already accessible to your class gives students the chance to be successful from the onset and allows them to make the personalizations they need to be successful.
Tip Three: If you’re creating materials and documents for your class or sourcing open educational resources, make sure they are accessible before you post them. Here’s a checklist to help you make accessible documents. We also have free checklists for .pdfs and slides on our Accessibility page on our website. Remember that accessibility is about more than passing the automated checkers that you can find in these tools. Try to limit the quantity of information you provide on slides - packing a single slide with information can be overwhelming for students. Could that pdf be a word document? Students can resize text, change the amount of information on each page, and resize images in a word doc in ways they can’t without an expensive editor in pdf.
Tip Four: Are your students no longer in your classroom? Consider how Universal Design could help enable teaching and learning. Reading from the text is a helpful learning experience for some students but can you present the information in the textbook in additional, alternative formats? Consider integrating an online lab experience so students can have a more hands on interaction with the materials or integrating interactives that focus on important concepts .
Recently, I was sent the definition of disability used by We Need Diverse Books :
“We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction). Furthermore, we subscribe to a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.”
The reason this definition resonates with me is because it includes not only what disability is but also how we can, unintentionally, create an ableist environment. Building, buying, and implementing accessible environments for students is important to their future whether they are continuing to more schooling or entering the workforce.
At Macmillan Learning, we take our commitment to providing accessible materials seriously. If you’d like to learn more about accessibility visit the Accessibility page on our website. We also encourage feedback from students and instructors on what we can do to improve and welcome any feedback about our resources or suggestions about future resources at email@example.com .
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Statistics have been used to inform us, change our minds, and even to shock us. From polls telling us who is winning various political races, to commercials telling us about a toothbrush recommended by nine out of ten dentists, to the rise of ocean temperatures over time, facts and figures inform the stories that help us understand the world around us. We spoke to communications instructor and Media and Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age author Richard Campbell about how he teaches his students about the stats behind the stories (and the stories behind the stats) and the storytelling at the intersection of journalism and statistics.
Marisa Bluestone: A bit of a chicken and egg question, but what do you think comes first -- the stats or the stories?
Richard Campbell: You can’t have the story without the data, without the stats. The jobs of the news narrative is to transform hard data into something an audience can understand. Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel wrote in their seminal book The Elements of Journalism that the job of the journalist is “to make the significant interesting.”
Data by itself is not interesting or understandable to a general audience. But a good narrative by a reporter who does her homework and asks good questions of the right sources can transform the data into a compelling story. Too much mediocre news, however, takes “interesting” stuff -- like a celebrity scandal or an outrageous tweet – and makes it seem significant just by the act of reporting it as news.
Marisa: This could be an entire course, but what quick tips do you have for students to help them translate statistics into stories, or visa versa? Richard: Funny you should ask this. The Stat+Stories podcast grew out of a course. At Miami, John Bailer -- chair of the statistics department -- and I had worked together to get a quantitative literacy requirement into our college’s curriculum. As part of that initiative, we team taught an honors class called “News and Numbers” in 2009 and developed the podcast in 2013.
As a one-time reporter and long-time journalism educator (with some math phobia issues), I remember how nervous I was in that first class with John. But when he put up a data graph culled from a national newspaper and asked the students, “What’s the story here?”, I relaxed. Storytelling is something I knew about and to realize this renowned statistician expected a good data chart to tell a story put me at ease. John and I had common ground. We would start every class with some graph or news story form a news site that relied on statistics and John would lead the students through a critique of what stories did a good job and what stories needed work.
My job was to improve their narratives. So one tip is to start a data-based report, not with data and numbers, but with a story that illustrates the impact of the data. For example, do not begin a news story on homelessness with data and percentages. Start the report by telling about a family impacted by homelessness and then lead your audience to the big picture and what the data tell us about the significance of the problem. But first you need to make an emotional connection to your audience. A story does that. It is hard to make such a connection early in a news story by using big numbers.
Marisa: How have recent advancements in data visualization changed the way you teach communications courses? Richard: At Miami, the statistics department also started a course, in collaboration with the graphics design department and the journalism program, on data visualization. Although I am retired now, I would encourage anyone teaching design or statistics to think about how graphic and data illustrations might be accompanied by a good narrative that help people understand the visuals. A lot of folks are used to making sense of the world through written or video narratives not through a dazzling graphic chart or complex statistical tables. But in combination, we might have a better chance of reaching more of the general audience.
Marisa: It's election season. What role will stats play in how the presidential election is covered? What role should they play? Richard: I assume you mean stats on political polling and not all the other statistics that are truly important --- like data on income disparities, or unemployment related to the Covid-19 crisis, or the higher percentages of Black and brown people mistreated or killed because of systemic racism. Unfortunately, during a national election, most mainstream TV news outlets obsess over polls – who’s ahead and who’s behind. This is not my area of expertise, but I can report on what experts have told us on our podcast.
Back in 2016, the national polls were within the margin of error. Clinton won by two percentage points – or 3 million votes. But some of the state reporting was flawed, since many formerly “unlikely voters” voted, and Trump eked out an electoral victory by narrowly winning Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
For 2020, statisticians and pollsters again warn of uncertainty. Determining “likely voters” in the age of Covid-19 and mail-in voting may be a crap shoot. Additionally, increases in robo calls in swing states have made many people more wary of answering their phones. Other than suggesting trends over time, we just don’t really know with any certainty how accurate polls are.
Marisa: Do you think there's room for opinions in data storytelling, or should it all be fact based? Richard: Good journalism throughout much of the 20 th century traditionally tried to separate opinion and analysis from basic news stories, in which reporters learned to keep their opinion out of news reports and attempted to interview multiple sources. Even today most newspapers relegate opinion essays to the editorial and op-ed pages. If a newspaper runs an analysis piece on the front page, it is usually labeled as such.
Cable TV news began blurring these distinctions, especially with the arrival of Fox News in the mid-1990s. Still, even on Fox News, there is generally fairer and more complete reporting in the midday hours before the wave of opinion talking heads ascend in the evening. But this is also true of MSNBC, with its nightly line-up of liberal and progressive talking heads. Still, the best opinion pieces are informed by good reporting and not just cable hosts spouting whatever comes to mind as they try to fill their allotted hour of time.
The tragedy, of course, is that many viewers think what they are getting in the evening is fair and balanced reporting. In fact, cable TV news in the evening -- and nationally syndicate conservative and libertarian talk radio throughout the day -- have filled the void created by the loss of many local newspapers. In the last 20 years, the U.S. has lost more than half the workforce of daily newspaper reporters -- from 56,000 in 2001 to fewer than 27,000 today.
A landmark 2017 University of North Carolina study identified 1,300 U.S. communities as “news deserts” – with no local print or digital reporting. In 2020, that figure has jumped to 1,800. About 2,100 daily and weekly papers have stopped publishing since 2004. According to a 2019 Brookings Institution study, millions of Americans see only national stories, and many of those “have a strong partisan bent” or “focus heavily on partisan conflict.” More alarming still, Brookings found the decline in local reporting has been accompanied by “a diminished capacity to hold elected officials and other local leaders accountable and a general disengagement from local politics.” Evidence that we have gathered in Ohio suggests too that letters and comments to editors at small-town papers are now less likely than in the past to focus on local issues. Instead, many merely parrot cable TV talking points.
Marisa: Is there anything I didn't ask you about, but should have? Richard: I would like to recommend that every journalism student take statistics or quantitative literacy courses and that every math and stats major take journalism courses (plus, all our high schools should be requiring quantitative literacy classes). The ability for mathematician or scientists to translate the complexities of their work into a story for a general audience is key to challenging the anti-science and anti-evidence strains running through our mediated culture.
Richard Campbell is professor emeritus and founding chair of the Department of Media, Journalism and Film at Miami University and has been teaching for 48 years. For Bedford/St.Martin’s Press, he is the lead author of three textbooks, including Media and Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age, now in its 12 th edition. He is also the author of 60 Minutes and the News: A Mythology for Middle America and co-author of Cracked Coverage: Television News, the Anti-Cocaine Crusade and the Reagan Legacy. He also was a print reporter and broadcast news writer in Milwaukee and was high school English teacher and girls’ basketball coach in the Milwaukee Public School system.
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Student engagement. It’s a struggle that instructors regularly list as their top concern in surveys on teaching during the pandemic. Though maintaining students' attention, curiosity, motivation and passion for learning has been a topic of interest for instructors for some time, these challenges are more pronounced this fall with digital fatigue, distractions at home, lack of one-on-one interaction, and connectivity challenges.
While most instructors now have some experience teaching classes online, having done it once before during the Spring semester, many continue to seek new and innovative ways to support student engagement.
There’s no shortage of ways that instructors can facilitate the joy of learning and connect with their students, and we’ve curated some of the ones that we’ve seen work successfully using the technologies and methodologies that we know best.
At the Start of and During Class:
Ask the class content-focused opening questions : Retrieval practice is a great way to begin each class, as it allows students to activate knowledge from either pre-class activities or a previous class. There are a few variations of this, including using opening questions on your lecture’s first slide, and removing it from view after a few minutes to encourage students to show up on time. You can also choose to give students credit for answering the opening question orally, in writing, or with a student response solution like iClicker .
Help students to focus by engaging with technology : With a virtual environment, it’s easy for students to get distracted with other content, texts and games on their phones and laptops. The new iClicker Focus feature helps students to self-regulate their behavior to stay engaged solely with the iClicker app for the duration of the class.
Chunk out content: Research indicates that students’ attention declines throughout the lecture. This can be compounded in a remote environment, with distractions making concentrating even more difficult. Chunking out information in seven to ten minute increments helps reset attention spans. and beginning each content segment with a polling question, helps activate students’ thinking by requiring them to engage with the content. This can be done using a variety of question types, and with a click of a button using iClicker’s diverse question types (i.e. anonymous, short answer, target, etc).
Administer low-stakes, formative assessments: Frequent formative check-ins offer students an indication of their performance, giving them an opportunity to improve their knowledge and grades ahead of exams. You can accomplish this synchronously or asynchronously with iClicker’s Polling or Quizzing features in class or by using the Assignment feature that students can complete outside of class sessions. The feature can be used to support asynchronous learning or “flip” your in-person class sessions.
Create an on-screen action: Whether teaching synchronously or asynchronously, you can move beyond static, text-heavy slides by incorporating illustrations, YouTube videos, 3D modeling software, interactive presentation software, or even memes. You can also add questions in your lecture videos (with iClicker’s Assignment feature) so students can answer questions on their own time.
Ending Class and Outside of Class:
Pose a reflective closing question : Learning research suggests that awareness of learning enhances it . In addition to demonstrating how well students understand the concepts covered in class, they can also be an opportunity to clarify any points or provide additional resources for students.
Have your students set learning goals. By offering a series of sh ort, assignable surveys students can reflect on their learning progress at key points across the semester. You can do this using a survey of your own creation or with Macmillan Learning’s new learning platform, Achieve , which offers an Intro Survey that asks students to consider their goals for the class and to think about how they plan to manage their time and learning strategies. Later, Checkpoint surveys get students to reflect on what's been working and what has not so that they can decide to make changes on their own. Each survey that students complete also generates a report that gives you a bigger picture of how your class is doing beyond their grades.
There are a lot of tips here that reference our new digital learning platform, Achieve, and with good reason. During the spring 2020 semester, instructors using Achieve reported their students were more engaged both in and outside of class when they compared to other classes they were teaching without Achieve. More information about Achieve’s performance during the pandemic is being studied now, and you can find our research up to now on our Learning Science page . There's also no shortage of research on the positive impact of iClicker on course outcomes .
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Over the past six months, COVID-19 gave many students the opportunity to make economic decisions, whether they knew it or not. This is true for both big decisions, like whether they should attend college this fall, and the day-to-day ones like whether they should go to visit a friend. This is not a new phenomenon, as many of us have been using basic economic principles to make decisions throughout our lives.
Everyday economics has been a passion of instructors and authors Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers for years now. They literally wrote the textbook on it. Principles of Economics
To help foster an even better understanding of the history-making pandemic, Betsey and Justin added new, current examples to help instructors cover the pandemic in their classrooms and to show students ways that they are already using economic principles -- or not -- in their recent decision-making. Here are seven insights distilled from these lessons:
Students weighed the costs and benefits of leaving their homes. They analyzed the pros and cons to determine what worked best for them. And in many instances this meant staying home. In fact many students began to socially distance well before the government required them to do so.
Students did not always ignore sunk costs (though they should have). As the pandemic was just beginning, many students had vacations, parties and other activities that had been planned for and paid. With fear of missing out and since money had been spent, many did not cancel. Florida’s spring break was a prime example of why it’s okay to not continue to invest in sunk costs, as people got sick and some died after attending parties.
Students reviewed the opportunity costs . Some students considered changing their college plans by asking themselves “or what.” For example, they asked: Should I go to college or … travel (which is limited) ... get a job (which is harder because unemployment is up).
Students' actions caused supply and demand to shift . With social distancing measures in place, they didn’t go out to restaurants nearly as often, and overall demand for in-person dining decreased.
Students made decisions that impacted more than just themselves. The marginal external costs associated with risky behavior during a pandemic are larger the more infectious and fatal the disease because it's more likely to make more people sick with serious consequences. On the other hand, the marginal external benefits associated with social distancing and mask-wearing during a pandemic are also larger since averting potential infections could save many lives.
Students relied more on Amazon for goods, giving Amazon greater market power. An article in The Economist on April 11, 2020 noted: “As the world gets back on its feet, big firms will have better access to capital markets, giving them an extra edge over smaller competitors.”
Students played a coordination game when they bought more toilet paper than we needed to. Purchases in excess were made not because they feared a shortage, but because they were concerned that others feared it.
These seven examples of how COVID-19 impacted our choices represent just a fraction of how we're using economic principles to make decisions in our everyday lives. For more information about Principles of Economics with Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers from Macmillan Learning, and to learn more about why every decision is an economic decision, click here.
Betsey Stevenson advised President Obama on social policy, labor market, and trade issues as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers from 2013 to 2015. She is currently a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan and she serves on the Executive Committee of the American Economic Association and other boards. She is an expert on the impact of the economy on happiness, on public policies’ impact on the labor market, and the economic forces shaping the modern family, among other topics.
Justin Wolfers is a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan. He is an expert in unemployment and inflation, the power of prediction markets, the economic forces shaping the modern family, discrimination, and happiness. He has been an editor of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, a board member on the Committee on the Status of Women in Economics, a member of the Panel of Advisors of the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, among many other board and advisory positions.
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