Digital Learning and the Transition to Achieve: A Conversation with Dr. Darcie Rives-East

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While the pandemic forced many instructors to adapt their teaching style for a fully or partially virtual classroom, the use of digital learning platforms will remain a key component of both remote and in-person learning moving forward. Dr. Darcie Rives-East used Achieve during the pandemic when her teaching moved completely online, and she’ll continue to use the platform for her in-person teaching. 

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The Achieve platform includes an interactive e-Book as well as extensive learning materials with pre-class, in-class and post-class activities. Dr. Darcie Rives-East, a Professor of English and First-Year Seminar Director at Augustana University, shared with us how she got the most out of this new platform during her time teaching remotely and which features she’ll continue using once she resumes in-person teaching. She’s used The Writer’s Reference with the Achieve platform. 

What have been some challenges with teaching–especially with online learning–since the pandemic started? How have you addressed them?

A major challenge for me as a composition instructor was having students peer edit classmates’ papers online. I used Achieve’s peer editing function to arrange peer editing partners, as well as the function’s ability to guide students through the questions I wanted them to focus on while they were giving advice to their partners. I found the peer editing function to be a great way to have students interact and work with one another despite not being physically present in the classroom. 

People are hesitant to embrace change, but what would you say are the benefits of moving to Achieve vs your experience with LaunchPad?

Achieve has so many more capabilities than LaunchPad (such as peer editing and instructor editing of papers, paper assignment templates, etc.), as well as more exercises than LaunchPad. I also thought it was easier to integrate Achieve with an LMS (such as Canvas), and, as a writing program director, I was able to set up and monitor accounts for program instructors. 

Why did you first decide to use online tools in your class?

During the pandemic, prior to vaccines, I had to be completely online due to prior health considerations. Therefore, I wanted to use all tools available to me in order to replicate and even improve how I teach composition in the physical classroom. Achieve provided me with the resources I needed to teach writing online without sacrificing quality. When I return to the physical classroom, I plan to still use the resources of Achieve to allow a “flipped classroom,” where students can learn and practice certain grammar lessons online, as well as participate in the writing sequence, so that we have more time to discuss writing in the classroom. 


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.