“Professor, may we take more quizzes than what’s assigned? Will you go ahead and assign more LearningCurves? I’d like to do some ahead of schedule.” Do these questions from students seem like an unrealistic dream? As unrealistic as they sound, they have indeed been asked on numerous occasions since I started using LearningCurve assignments through LaunchPad.
Before using digital products, most instructors dream of having motivated students who plan ahead and have a desire to learn. Although we may have a few of these students here and there, they are not common. Therefore, when I have a product that encourages a student to work hard and work ahead, I jump on it. Using Macmillan Digital Products, including LaunchPad and its LearningCurve, have proven to be extremely beneficial to my students and me (the instructor). I’d like to encourage you to jump on board, too, by sharing the following four helpful aspects to using LaunchPad: 1.) Which products I use; 2.) How I use LaunchPad; 3.) The benefits to the students; and 4.) The benefits to the Instructor. In this first part of my LaunchPad series, I will focus on which products I use and how I use them.
First, let’s start with which digital products I use. I have used several different publishing companies’ digital learning, and LaunchPad is easily the most user friendly thus far. I currently use LaunchPad for both “Real Communication” (Intro to Speech Communication) and “A Speaker’s Guidebook” (Public Speaking) texbooks.
Second, how I use LaunchPad may be helpful. It’s important to note that when using digital learning, such as LaunchPad, it should appear in your syllabus so students realize the importance of their use of the product to their learning and overall grade from the beginning of the semester.
I have LaunchPad mentioned in four places within my syllabus to drive home the significance. Within my syllabus, LaunchPad appears in the sub headed sections, “Required Text/Materials”, “Course Policies: Exams/Quizzes”, “Grading Evaluation”, and “Class Schedule.”
An example of one of the places in my syllabus that LaunchPad appears is in the image below. You will also see from the image that students have immediate access to the Publisher’s Help Desk contact information. This will ensure the instructors do not have to deal with any technical difficulties that may arise.
Next, let’s also look at how LaunchPad appears in my BlackBoard (Learning Management System/LMS), because this makes access to LaunchPad for both the instructor and students so easy. Additionally, it enables integration so grades can be transferred over from LaunchPad to the BlackBoard gradebook.
Now, more importantly, what types of assignments are in LaunchPad? The specific assignments I use in LaunchPad range from a PRCA (Self-Assessment Score of Communication Apprehension), the e-text, Chapter LearningCurves, “What About You?” Self-Assessments, Tips & Techniques (for Anxiety Reduction), and Videos (Speech samples) and 2-minute video clips. All of the assignments help students retain and apply the material.
As you’ll see, the home page of LaunchPad is similar to a modern technological look students are familiar with. Furthermore, it is user friendly by having gradebook, calendar, e-text, and assignments with due dates all at first glance when they enter LaunchPad.
A favorite assignment feature on LaunchPad is the LearningCurve. Macmillan describes LearningCurves as an adaptive quizzing and personalized learning program that puts the concept of "testing to learn" into action. It is game-like quizzing motivating students to engage with their course.
In the sample question, you can see students will be shown if they answered correctly. If they answered incorrectly, it will further explain why he or she missed it, followed by an opportunity to try again, get a hint, access the e-text, or have it look up the answer for them. The student has a total number of points to reach to finish the quiz, so the more they answer correctly from the start, the more points and faster they will reach their total. If they are missing concepts, they will be asked about those again to ensure they learn the content. At the bottom of the screen, they are able to track their progress.
After covering how I use the digital products in my classes as well as the great tools available, return in a few days to read part 2 and 3 of this series which will focus on the most important part: the benefits of using LaunchPad to the students and instructor.