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Customizing the content in your LaunchPad course is the first step toward making it uniquely yours. For this blog post, I want to show you how to do precisely this. I will first walk you through the different kinds of assignments and features that can be added to LaunchPad while also providing a few personal anecdotes from my own experiences teaching. Then, I am going to show you one of the customizable features that I use most often: "Document Collection". By adding this to your course, you will be able to attach virtually any file format (for example, PDF or a PowerPoint file) so that it is accessible and downloadable by your students.
To begin, you will see below that I have highlighted the "Add New" button that appears in the home screen in LaunchPad. Click on this to access the customizable content window.
Once selected, a window with eleven different options appears. I am going to briefly walk you through each of these. You may also be able to read the description that LaunchPad provides in the window as well.
The "Unit" selection is generally used as a kind of module placeholder for other content. In other words, it will help you build and structure your course. Use this if you want to create a unique module on the LaunchPad homepage. I typically select this to advertise extra credit opportunities or to post a large assignment like a final research paper.
Next is the "Discussion Board" option. Be sure to check out my other blog post that goes into more detail about this feature: Using Discussion Boards in LaunchPad.
But, again, this is an excellent way to integrate your course fully into a single LMS platform - this is something that I have done and found it very convenient and helpful.
Third on the list is "Document Collection" which is something that I am going to go into a lot more detail later on in this blog post. As a result, I won't say too much right now other than this will allow you to upload and make accessible various kinds of documents to your course. You will also be able to type on an HTML page and include instructions or other kinds of content like URL links.
Speaking of links, the next option will let you post a URL exclusively by itself. This can be helpful if you want to give students quick and direct access to a certain webpage or online resources. This would be opposed to having them click into a HTML page and then selecting the link from within the text. In general, this is a pretty standard and straightforward feature.
The "Homework" content is somewhat of a new feature to LaunchPad. It will allow you to provide a very customizable experience for the student by bringing together and interlinking eBook content, APA or other professional standards and learning objectives, and quiz questions over chapter or lecture material. I would recommend creating a test course, like I have done here, and playing around with this one as there are many ways in which it can be deployed in your course.
Next, the "HTML Page" is a pretty standard feature on other LMS platforms and other university content delivery systems. In it, you can edit a page much like you can a word processor page. I have found that this is helpful if I want to provide quick instructions to students or include a link with some context around it.
The "Offline Assignment" option is great if you are teaching a hybrid course, both online and in person. For example, if you give a large exam or assign a big research paper in the brick-and-mortar classroom, then you can use this to provide an entry in the gradebook in LaunchPad. This way, the students will be able to view current and up-to-date grades even though the assignment was not provided through LaunchPad.
"Link Collection" that is pictured below, is a hybrid between the "Link" and "HTML Page" features. It is pretty straightforward in that you will be able to edit an HTML page and attach, in a separate way, a URL link.
By selecting "Quiz", you will be prompted to create your own quiz questions or select them from the pre-established test bank. I am sure you are familiar with at least a similar feature if you have any experience with teaching online. An analogous logic applies in LaunchPad, allowing you to develop your own form of timed quizzing (or you can use the built-in adaptive quizzing found in LearningCurve).
Using the "Video Assignment" feature is great if you want to upload your own media lectures to the course thereby making it much more personable and, perhaps, more pedagogically effective. You don't have to be super proficient in internet and video technology in order to do this. For example, you may embed a YouTube video you record right on the site or you may upload, for instance, a .mpg or .mpeg file recorded on your computer.
Finally, the "Dropbox" gives you a place to let students submit any kind of document - whether that be a final paper, research proposal, or weekly journal reflection. This will also create an entry in gradebook where you can render a grade for the document; furthermore, allowing you to provide personalized feedback to individual students.
In the last part of this blog post, I will take a more detailed look at the "Document Collection" feature largely because I use it so extensively and I would guess, by extension, that other instructors do as well.
Below is the screen that will appear after having selected it from the original menu (above). You will notice that there is an option for you to select "Attach a Document".
Once you click on this, a prompt will show-up for you to browse for the file you want to upload. Again, the file type is really irrelevant, since the system can handle anything from a PDF file to a PowerPoint slideshow or a Word document.
I have selected a PDF file. You can also see that the "Description" box acts as basically an HTML page where you can provide context for the file or instructions on what the students are supposed to do with the attached document.
This last screen shot is virtually the same screen that the students will see. You will notice that I have highlighted how the uploaded document appears giving the students the option to download it.
I hope that this outline of customizable content in LaunchPad has been helpful in giving you an overview of the ways in which you can add your own material into the system or, at least, riff off of the default assignments that are already provided.
I have found LaunchPad to be extremely user-friendly when I have attempted to incorporate my own documents and brick-and-mortar assignments into an online platform. By extension, I think that the students, as well, have appreciated how seamless and efficient it is to have mid-semester content (like an extra credit assignment) appear within the user interface.
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