Digital Tools in the Post-Covid Age: Using "Read and Practice" to Foster Mental and Emotional Health Among College Students Oct. 13 @ 11AM ET
In this webinar, Dr. Vaughn Scribner explains how Read and Practice helped him to empathize with students and help them with their mental well-being during Covid, and how he plans on integrating these findings in the post-Covid landscape.
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Regular and Substantive Interactions? What’s that supposed to mean? It seems every new memo brings a new requirement for online teachers, so when the latest one required that our online courses verify the use of regular and substantive interactions, it was tempting to just shake my fist at a new “mandate” or complain about additional work. The other option, of course, was to really consider the design of my online writing class. Was I providing substantive interaction to my students? How do well-developed online writing courses – or any courses for that matter – naturally provide us with ways to interact with our students in ways that actually make meaningful connections with the content and with each other?
At its basis, the federal requirement that online courses provide “regular and substantive interactions” ensures that we aren’t just handing our students a package of material and wishing them good luck as they work through the class materials. At its best, it provides a menu of effective practices that are already embedded into our writing classes while offering the opportunity to add some new tools to our belt.
One characteristic of RSI is that the instructor initiates the interactions, and there are multiple ways we do this. We set up welcome messages, we create discussion boards, and we invite them to come by our office hours, but how can we initiate conversations without adding extra work for ourselves? Providing personalized feedback on an assignment is considered an instructor-initiated interaction, and how we choose to phrase that feedback can go a long way towards encouraging the students to interact with us. Instead of writing a comment about WHAT a student did in an essay, why not ask a question about WHY the student made a certain writing decision? Instead of asking students to write a reflective paragraph about their graded work, why not ask them to write a revision plan based on your feedback and bring it to their next conference? Make feedback an invitation to a conversation rather than the ending point of an assignment.
Another characteristic of RSI is that interactions are frequent and consistent. This can be something as simple as laying out a clear communication schedule letting students know they can expect an email every Monday and Friday or posting weekly announcements. It can, however, also be providing more frequent feedback on assignments. No, we can’t grade more essays, but we can add more checkpoints to what we already assign, more scaffolding to larger projects. We can turn big projects into multi-step projects, especially if we stop defining “drafts” as completed essays and use drafts to check just one part of the project – the thesis, a synthesis of a source, body paragraphs without introductions or conclusions. These take less time for an instructor to check and present students with more frequent interactions at points where that feedback can still affect change in the final product.
Of course, our interactions must also be substantive, which simply means that we need to provide our students with actionable feedback. Telling them what is right or wrong with their work simply isn’t enough for students. Our feedback needs to direct students to the tools they need to build their skills. This can take the form of links to relevant textbook sections, interactive grammar tutorials, or even links to extra mini-lectures designed by the instructor. Sometimes, it’s not enough to lead the horse to water, we really do need to show them how to drink.
None of these concepts are new. They’re already available to us and many of us use them in our online and traditional classes already. New calls to document RSI shouldn’t be seen as additional work but as a way to highlight what we already do well and to reassess whether the way we offer feedback invites conversation or simply justifies our grades.
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So you’ve decided to use Achieve. Congratulations!
The first step is to figure out how you are going to deliver Achieve to your students. Will you have the bookstore sell codes, or have the students buy access online, or does your school offer an Inclusive Access program that you should join? Does your school require you to use an LMS--and if so, which one? Maybe you want to do what we call “deep integration” so students sign into the school LMS and see all their work for Achieve there. How do you determine this?
Your bookstore will know if there is an Inclusive Access course materials discount program on campus. Your local Macmillan representative might know as well. Start there. Your Macmillan representative will ALSO know if other people at your school are doing deep integration (so maybe it’s already set up on your campus) or inclusive access.
Talk to your bookstore and your Macmillan representative to figure out what makes sense for you BEFORE you even start creating your Achieve course.
And if you know already that you want to do LMS integration, here are a series of directions based on your LMS.
Blackboard Ultra: https://macmillan.force.com/macmillanlearning/s/article/Table-of-Contents-for-Deep-Integration-with-Blackboard-Ultra
And if you know already that you want to do Inclusive Access, start talking to your Macmillan Learning representative now so we can make sure you’re all set up for the next semester.
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Gradebook categories can be reordered
Instructors can create a group of students and give that group assignment exceptions, or create group-specific assignments
Content added to the course will appear at the top of the course content view
Instructor can set time for course start and end date
On writing assignments that have MLA/APA features, instructors can now view all the components in one view and leave feedback on all features (English Only)
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As classes begin, just a reminder that we have a host of fabulous training options for all of our digital products: https://www.macmillanlearning.com/college/us/contact-us/training-and-demos
And you may say, "Nah, I'm fine. I don't need training. I'll learn on my own." You probably can, but we have data from our users that says that customer satisfaction increases when a training happens--because you aren't frustrated in trying to figure out what to do. So give it a shot and sign up for a training today!
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Recently we had one of our major releases and there is some more new functionality in Achieve that you should know about.
Students with 1 term access will be able to switch their course enrollment
Student-specific assignments will no longer be visible to those students who aren't assigned the assignment
Coordinators will be able to change Assessment grading settings at any time, from within NGA or the single assign widget, in their Section Manager
Instructors can edit or create their own multiple choice, multiple select, numeric entry, free response, and math equation questions for use in their Achieve courses. See the help article here.
Instructors can “favorite” assessment items that they really like so they are easy to find for later assessments or for use in other courses. See the help article here.
Instructors will be able to grade writing assignments using the rubric score, with optional weighting for rubric criteria (only in English courses using Writing Tools). See the help article here.
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When you or your students reach out to our Macmillan Learning Support Community , you deserve to get the right answer, quickly. For this reason, we’ve made some changes to the Support Community that you will see implemented in May.
The first step on the Support page will be selecting your product. This means that more people should get the right article and the easy answer first, fast.
If you want to go to “Contact Support” (in the upper right), you will see a new option that starts with Chat.
By chatting with Mille, our virtual assistant, we hope more people get the answer they need, quickly.
If chatting with Millie doesn't work for you, you can still reach out to our Support team via email or phone--once we have some basic information from you (as before).
We’re hoping that these improvements will result in a better experience for you, leading to more help, faster.
If you have any questions about this, let us know. (And yes, we’ll remind you about this as we get closer to the start of fall classes as well.)
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We talk to customers. Our sales staff talks to customers everyday, as do our marketing and editorial teams, our trainers, our learning science team, our product teams, our support teams, and more. We get lots and lots of one-on-one feedback from customers that we track and we can ‘vote up’ an issue that lots of people are hearing about or ‘vote down’ an issue that is less common.
We look at in-product data. With Achieve, we have lots more data on the backend--which is awesome! We can see the volume of people (overall, not the individual list of people) who used a particular feature. Obviously, this means we can when a certain feature is not being used as well. All of this data is considered directional as it helps us figure out what’s important to our users.
We survey users. We ask users who are in Achieve what they think of a particular page or feature and we track those results. We have internal goals about what each page should be achieving on their SEQ (Single Ease Question) and pages that fall below that goal are noted as noted to need more analysis for potential refinement . In addition, we do a longer user survey to both students and instructors at the end of the term so we can ask more questions and also track results over time. This is another way of checking to see what parts of Achieve are working well and where we need improvement.
We track the issues that come into our support team. You as a customer (both students and instructors) can actually submit requests for new features or changes via our support form: https://macmillan.force.com/macmillanlearning/s/contactsupport . We also track the calls, emails, and chats to our support team to figure out the topics that have the most problems and we look at what users are searching for in the Knowledge Based. These contacts to support usually signify areas where refinement to the product is needed as customers aren’t finding it intuitive to use on their own.
We do usability testing. We give students and instructors (not always users of our products, and not even always people who are familiar with online learning tools) a goal to accomplish in Achieve like “Assign this homework” or “Check your grade” and then we ask them to complete that task with no additional instructions, but we do ask them to vocalize their thought process. This gives us great insight into things like, “Well I assumed it would be here” or “Because you used this word” and tells us how customers are using the product.
We look outward. In addition to talking to users, we also talk to people who don’t use our product to find out why not. We follow trends in tech education so we can see the big issues under discussion and see how we can help. And we look at other products to check out other great ideas that are out in the world.
So is the formula as simple as A+B=C? No, but we do look at all sorts of data and take your feedback in mind as we continue to improve Achieve. Please keep letting us know what you like and where we can improve.
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Instructors can rename Adaptive Quizzing assignments and Instructor Activity Guides
When instructors update due dates in batch using the option in the preview table, it will default to 11:59 p.m.
Instructors can edit the target score and topics of a Adaptive Quiz or Read & Practice activity even after they've created section courses.
When instructors create section courses, they will immediately become accessible to all instructors enrolled in them.
Assignments with custom visibility settings will have the "hidden" indicator and tool tip
Assignments with custom visibility settings or are hidden until # days before the due date will display in student preview
Sapling migrated assessments will display in the Resources tab in the order that they display in Sapling
Filtering by learning path designation will be sorted in pre-class, in-class, post-class order
Due date exceptions will no longer display to all students (not just those with an exception) in their institutional LMS courses
Instructors who want to override the lack of a grade and give their students a 0, will be able to save that 0
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Here at Macmillan Learning, we understand that not every student, course or institution is exactly alike. Which is why we want to provide instructors with the freedom to create course materials that fit the goals and objectives of their course. By giving instructors the ability to combine their own original content with Macmillan Learning content, we can create the best custom solution to meet your needs. And the best part is we can do this in an easily accessible, digital format!
What can we customize?
Anything we publish! The Macmillan Curriculum Solutions team is able to customize e-books as well as our digital courseware solutions, Achieve and LaunchPad. We are able to add exciting interactive content to all of these platforms to give your students a digital courseware experience that meets them right where they are, online. With features available ranging from additional readings, assessments, videos and other interactive content, we’ve got you covered.
What do other instructors do to customize their courseware or e-book?
As Macmillan’s Custom Marketing Manager, I’ve seen some amazing projects come across my desk recently. Some of the most unique and interesting projects involve incorporating local students into the content. Seeing their peers reflected in their course materials can be incredibly impactful for your students. And whether it is profiles of current and former students, pictures, video or artwork produced by students, or exemplary student projects used as examples, all of these are options in customizing Macmillan courseware.
Outside of incorporating students into their project, many instructors include videos, interactives or other dynamic content they have created. Some instructors organize their projects around a theme that involves a selection read by the entire school, freshman class, or cohort. This creates an opportunity for meaningful conversations among students, faculty, and sometimes even the author of that reading selection.
How does it work?
Customization is a collaborative effort! Your Macmillan Learning sales representative will work with you and an editor from our Curriculum Solutions department to create the custom courseware that works best for you and your students. We provide guidance on selecting content, proofreading services and clear all permissions necessary to get your content ready by the start of the semester. Most projects take anywhere from 3-6 months to complete depending on complexity, but the time and the effort are all worth it!
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As we start the semester, don’t forget that Macmillan provides a variety of tools to help get your students registered for your class. You can see slides, videos, and syllabus inserts on our First Day of Class page to get you through the start of the semester regardless of which product you’re using.
That said, a few students will always run into some issues, so here is one easy thing, per product, to tell your students or do yourself.
“I’m still waiting for the code.”
When students buy access to Achieve, LaunchPad, or Sapling through the Student Store , they do not get emailed an access code; they purchase the access directly to the product. Some students wait for the email to arrive that includes their access code. That’s not necessary (and no email will arrive with a code). Once you pay for access, you can enter the product.
“I can’t find your course on the Store.”
LaunchPad: We sometimes get reports that students “can’t find” their instructor’s LaunchPad course. Remember, you need to activate your course in order to make it available for students. And if you activate the course at 1pm on Monday, it won’t appear in the Student Store at 1:02pm on Monday; it will appear the next day.
Sapling: If you are using a Sapling course that is LMS-integrated, then that course is NOT available to buy through the Student Store. Students can only purchase access directly through SaplingLearning.com. So if students can’t find your course on the Store, that’s one likely reason.
Achieve: You need to make your Achieve course Active before students can enroll into it. You also are asked for your course start date when you set up your course. If your course starts on 1/25 and you put that into Achieve, your course will remain in draft status until 1/25, which is why students won’t be able to purchase access until 1/25.
If you have more questions, you can always check out our Support Community for more help.
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As you likely know, we at Macmillan Learning have a ton of help articles in our Support Community. What is the best way to find what you're looking for?
If you are just getting started, there are "Getting Started" pages for each of our digital products. To find them, go to the main support page (https://macmillan.force.com/macmillanlearning/s/) and scroll to the bottom to find the digital product that you're using from the list of icons.
If you click on, for example, the logo for Achieve, you will be directed to a page where the articles are organized by Topic and there is a "Getting Started" link at the top.
If you are new to the product, I'd start with the Getting Started information. If you know generally what you're looking for, say something about student refunds, simply click on that "Refunds and Returns" box to find a number of relevant articles. (Keep in mind, those articles will be for both students and instructors.)
Alternatively, if you have a precise question, when you first get to the support page (https://macmillan.force.com/macmillanlearning/s/) you can click on the "Search" box.
I would then recommend that you use the filters (Role and Products, for sure) and then search for the topic such as "extra credit." You can use the Article Features option to search for articles with videos. When you narrow your search using the filters, in this case, Instructor using Achieve, then the article that comes up (see in the gray box) is more likely to be the answer you need.
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We want to make sure you're ready to wrap up 2020 (phew!) and begin preparing for next semester as January (or February) are right around the corner.
Sign up for teaching tips for 2021 if you're looking to stay crisp next term.
If you're looking for innovative teaching ideas, check out our Webinars on Demand recordings.
Don't forget to check out iClicker for new ways to engage your students (online and in-person) throughout the term.
And as always, check out our Support Community if you run into any questions while getting ready for 2021.
Here's to a fabulous 2021!
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Check out the Upcoming Webinar: Unlocking Student Engagement with Learning Science
Thursday, December 10, 2020| 30 Minutes
Register for the webinar or sign up for the recording: https://go.macmillanlearning.com/recordingregister-201210-unlocking-student-engagement-with-learning-science.html
How can learning science impact your course design? Erin Scully, Senior Director of Learning Research & Analytics at Macmillan Learning, will share practical advice on how the student-centered approach taken in the development of our Achieve platform led to a research-based learning model that can be used by instructors to amplify the learning science in their course design regardless of which online tools are in use.
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