Test Security - We have had a number of instructors ask us about test security, and we also know that a lot of your schools already have programs for proctoring and browser lockdown. As such, we are not adding our own options for proctoring and lockdown (and be forced to charge for it accordingly), but rather we are providing more tools to make exporting our tests to load into your campus LMS easier. Directions to export a test created with Macmillan Learning Test Bank into your LMS are here .
In addition, each of the individual digital products that we offer have tools to help with test security. You can read through those options here . And we had a very useful webinar with Eric Chiang where he reviewed ideas for test security.
Lastly, we have moved most of our test banks to the Macmillan Learning Test Bank, accessible only only to a verified instructor. With this system you can:
Create paper or online tests that you can export to your LMS using your web browser;
Drag and drop questions to create tests;
Create and edit your own questions and edit publisher-created question sets.
Learn more here: https://macmillan.force.com/macmillanlearning/s/article/Getting-Started-with-the-Macmillan-Learning-Test-Bank .
Engaging Students - We know that one of the biggest concerns if you end up moving to a fully or partially online class is keeping students engaged. While each of our products have active aspects, we are proud to offer the market's leading student engagement solution, iClicker. Our attendance feature automates taking roll, then you can choose from flexible polling & quizzing options to engage, check understanding and get feedback from students in real time. Best of all, iClicker works seamlessly with your existing content and any other software or tools you'd like to use in your virtual, hybrid or in-person class. We also have great webinars on fostering student curiosity and engaging students online that I’d recommend.
Volume / Load - We anticipate that many more instructors are likely to try digital solutions for their students as classes are moving to hybrid or fully online options this fall. As such, we have been planning for a large uptick in student usage and making adjustments to our servers accordingly. We feel very good about our preparedness for a significant increase in student users in all of our platforms.
Instructor Training on Digital Products - We are anticipating that a lot more instructors are going to be in need of training with more digital product usage and with changing class formats. Beyond our standard training options, including time with our Learning Solutions team and our self-help documentation , we are also doing intensive training with our entire team so we have more people available to train you. In addition, there are help guides within the products and we have a group of Faculty Consultants (colleagues) who are also available to help. For this to be successful, however, we request that you don’t wait until the day or two before classes start before you request training. 🙂
Professional Development - Throughout the spring and summer, we conducted a wide variety of webinars with a number of our fabulous authors and customers and we recorded all of those webinars. You can find all the recordings here , and they cover both general teaching tips (Online Teaching, Inclusive Teaching) as well as tips for particular disciplines or products. Check out the options!
Student Training on Digital Products - We will continue to add to and refine our First Day of Class Materials for students for you to send to students or use on the first day of class so they know what you are asking them to do online, why, and how to get started.
Customer Support - Our fantastic customer support team stands at the ready to help you and your students with any issues that may arise. You can find the team (as well as a variety of help articles) online here: https://macmillan.force.com/macmillanlearning/s/
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As of today, the LaunchPads for Gunn’s Speech Craft , O’Hair’s A Speaker’s Guidebook 7e, and O’Hair’s Real Communication 4e have a new video assessment program . We know that the best way for students to improve their public speaking skills is to give a speech and then watch themselves giving the speech with accompanying feedback--and this new assessment program makes that process so much easier! So why did we do this and what do you and your students gain with this change? The new assessment option will allow you to do the following: Instructors and students can record directly into the assignment. Instructors can add comments and fill out rubrics in the assignment during live speeches and load directly into students’ assignments, all simultaneously . When students finish giving a speech, instructors are done recording and assessing . And since the video and feedback is all in one place for students to reference for learning and improvement, the feedback loop is complete . The program is simple to use with superior commenting, recording, and rubric assessment features. Features include: Powerful feedback Multiple comment delivery options for rich feedback. Comments are side-by-side with the video. Instructors and students can submit text comments or post audio, video, documents, or images as feedback. Visual markers that map the plusses and minuses of the speech. Easy-to-set-up markers make it possible for instructors and students to call out key issues or positive points of the video. You can track every “um,” every speech citation, every use of eye contact, and students will see these markers mapped visually against their speech video. Descriptive rubrics and publisher-provided rubrics that provide crystal-clear assessment . The rubrics in the new program provides more than just a number score for each criteria; they will now include written information on what each score means, i.e. what a 1 means, what a 2 means, etc. Instructors can create and edit their own rubrics, or they can use or edit ours. Real-time feedback Instructors can record each student’s speech directly into the assignment and assess it live while the student is giving the speech. Students can see their video powerfully, paired with instructor feedback immediately. When the speech is done, the instructor is done with their assessment. Because the grading work of the class is done at the end of the class hour, instructors get their lives back. Mobile device-friendly: Through iOS/Android apps that will go live later in the spring, video can be recorded on a mobile device and loaded directly into an assignment. This is a huge improvement over LaunchPad. Live streaming: Instructors who teach online public speaking classes bemoan the fact that students miss out on the live experience of giving a speech. With our new video assessment program, online speech classes can live-stream their speech video while the instructor and class assesses it in the moment. We will be adding this to new LaunchPads as they release, going forward. If you have any questions about this exciting new part of LaunchPad, let us know! (And check out all the instructor directions here, to get started today!)
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It is disheartening to know how many students don't realize that their LaunchPad includes the ebook--and we wanted to help fix that. So with the newer LaunchPads, we added an Orientation Quiz to help students better understand how to use LaunchPad. There is a short video to watch and a series of quiz questions so students know how to find assignments, reach out to tech support, locate their ebook, see their grades, and more. You can assign this to your class at the start of the semester to make your life, and your students' lives, easier. If your LaunchPad starts with a Welcome unit, open that up for the Getting Started Quiz that you can quickly and easily assign. Let us know what you think about this--and if you have any suggestions for improving this, we'd like to know that as well. And if your LaunchPad doesn't include this quiz to start, you can easily add it using these directions. Have fun!
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So the end of the semester is around the corner...and then the next round of classes will start up shortly. What should you do to make it all go smoothly? Prepare now! Check out information on reviewing, changing or exporting grades for fall, as well as creating and activating new courses for spring. And don’t forget to sign up for training to make sure you have all the information you need to make the next semester even better! Let us know if you have any questions—and have a great rest of the term!
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The recent LaunchPad release had a number of items in it, but there are three items that I’m particularly excited about: help links to the new support community, a ccess expiration information in the roster, and p asscode protected quizzes. For support, we have a new Support Community for ALL our digital products (which hopefully you know about already). The support links in the entire LaunchPad family of products were re-set and now go to this new support community. Check it out! For the roster, in any LaunchPad course, an instructor can go to the Instructor Console - Roster & Groups, and now see all of their students along with the accurate Access Expiration Information. This will be especially useful in the first few weeks of classes, when students are using temporary access, to remind them to purchase full access. For quizzes, instructors now have the option to add a passcode (not a password, since that requires more stringent policies like letters, numbers, symbols, etc) to a particular quiz to limit student access to that quiz. How does this passcode setting work? As an instructor, go to an existing quiz, or create a new quiz. On the settings page, you will now see the option for a passcode (see below). That code will be visible to the instructor as they type in the word/number combo. (The passcode has to be 8-20 characters with at least one capital letter and one number, but it can’t include special characters.) After the instructor saves those settings, when the student goes to take the quiz that has a passcode set, they will have to input the passcode in order to gain access to the assignment. They can not get in without the passcode, nor will the system shut them out after x number of attempts. Caveats: Once the instructor has used the passcode option, they can’t use the option to “allow save and continue” as well. In addition, at the moment, the passcode can only be used for the entire class; coming soon, the instructor will be able to adjust the passcode for groups or individuals. Let us know what you think of this, as I know I'm excited about these improvements in functionality.
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As we near the end of the fall semester, just a few notes to make sure you are ready to wrap up fall and prepare for winter or spring. There is a great section in the LaunchPad Instructor’s Manual called “Track Student Work” which can help you see all of a student’s individual LaunchPad activities—their ‘digital footprint’. Here are some other key articles that might be useful today: Check student activity on individual assignments How to change a student’s grade Check student activity as a whole Import scores for offline assignments, if applicable Zero scores for unsubmitted assignments Export your LaunchPad gradebook Preparing for the Spring Semester We’d like to provide you with some helpful articles on how to make sure your preparation goes smoothly: Create new or copy existing LaunchPad courses (when in doubt, you are probably better off starting with a new course) Set up your spring courses If you copied courses, batch update assignment due dates If you created new courses, create assignments Deactivate your fall courses Activate your spring courses (This is an important step and will result in a personal URL for YOUR COURSE that will be emailed to you and that you should distribute to YOUR STUDENTS! Students must enroll in the course with your specific URL.) Distribute your spring course URLs to your students so that they can enroll in your courses And remember: As usual, you can find links for training, information and help here. Use the opportunity to sign up for a 30 minute training session with a product and discipline expert. It will probably be the most useful 30 minutes you spend prepping this term! And if you run into any issues, you and your students can always contact tech support for help or check out our Instructor User Guide for more information.
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One of the forms of assessment in LaunchPad is called "Data Connections" and is built differently than some of the other measures like LearningCurve and Quizzing. Data Connections has more of an integrative and essay aspect with regard to how it presents itself to students. In this way, it creates a place where students have some free choice in what kind of content they want to look at and how they respond to the assessment prompt. Below, I am using a Data Connections activity from the LaunchPad system on human growth and development. This one is listed as "Common Genetic Diseases and Conditions" - clicking on it will bring up a new window. This particular Data Connections has 4 pages to it. In the screenshot below you will see how Data Connections presents an opening page that introduces the topic. Clicking on the "Get Started" button at the bottom brings up the interactive table that I have highlighted in yellow below. The student is able to click through the table and learn about each of these different genetic diseases and conditions. Personally, I like having information presented in this way as it allows for the student to become more personally invested in exploring the content provided - contrast this to just reading something in a textbook. While the latter isn't non-educational, having the material appear in a way that is different, I think, helps to capture the student's attention and thereby, hopefully, fosters retention. On the next page, in the following screenshot, the student is prompted to enter a short essay on the previous information that was just presented to them. Unique to Data Connections is how the student's response is very wide open, allowing them to select from a wide range of possibilities as to how they want to show what they learned. As an important note, being an instructor, you will want to be sure to go back and review the grade for this activity. Data Connections provides a tentative full-credit grade after the student has submitted an answer. As a result, a review by the instructor ensures that the student is learning the concepts and ideas that are required by the course. Finally, the last page of Data Connections will let the student know that their work has been submitted. It will also provide a list of references that can be referenced on a term paper or used by the student for further learning. Data Connections, a unique form of assessment in LaunchPad, has the benefit of providing the student with a broad range of possibilities of how to respond and demonstrate their knowledge. It does this through presenting the material interactivity and by using essay questions as a way to gauge the student's progress. Data Connections is another feature unique to the LaunchPad learning system.
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In Part 1 of the series “LaunchPad”, I focused on how to use LaunchPad in your classes and what tools are helpful to use. The important aspect, besides how and what to use in LaunchPad, is the benefits of using LearningCurve to the students. I discovered these benefits from observation of students and their grades, speaking with them, and surveying students at the end of the semester. I ascertained most students see the benefits and appreciate use of LearningCurve. Students are benefitting by preparing in reading their material more, retaining more information, appreciating the ease of use, being provided an affordable option, and providing successful learning opportunities in a stress-free environment. To break down the benefits more precisely, the most common benefits include: Students learn and retain the material better. In the past, I always struggled with encouraging students to read their text; however, they now actually read the e-text and remember the content! The digital platform is user friendly. Students appreciate having to only log in through one site (through BlackBoard), and once they have logged in the first time, they never are required to log in again if they enter through BlackBoard. It surprised me how much students dislike login pages because they won’t remember their login information. Having immediate access to the text online anytime from anywhere is extremely helpful. Students have been known to access the text and quizzes from school, home and even work during their busy, mobile schedules. Students concur that online quizzes from home are preferred over in-class quizzes and exams. They value the ability to take an exam on their own time when they are comfortable, because they are able to use resources, and have the ability to take the quiz during the time of day they learn best or when they have time. Students also like that they can start an assignment, save it, and return to it later. In short, students are “testing” well because they are completing it in a stress-free environment. It is also satisfying for students to see their grade transfer and appear in their BlackBoard gradebook. It provides for a productive feeling with immediate feedback. It also keeps students from having to “record-keep” or save hard copies of assignments, quizzes and exams. Students expressed gratitude that the professor actually used the materials that students were required to purchase, and they were grateful for the reasonable price. As surprising as it is to me, students complain that many professors never refer to or use the products students spent a lot of money on. In using this product, students are offered an affordable option that they will indeed use and learn from. The digital product saves students time in many ways, from the ability to purchase e-text access online (no trips to the expensive bookstore!), having access any time, having their grades tracked and transferred for them, etc… In the high technology culture we now live in, most students have trouble keeping their technology devices put away. Further, many young students arrive at college having greatly used technology in their middle and high school education. Whether we like it or not, simply put, this is how they now learn. Therefore, if many students learn from technology, prefer technology, and don’t want to go without it, I see it as a benefit to harness technology and incorporate it into their learning. Check back for the third and final post on how using LaunchPad can benefit you, the instructor.
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