Will Going Digital Really Boost Results in Your Classroom? Hear from Instructors Who Tried It

Published October 24, 2014

We wanted to know how real educators felt about going all-digital and whether this transition actually makes a difference in the classroom, so we caught up with 24 real educators and asked them to report back on their experiences.

Read our interview below with Terri Zuccaro.

Curious to know how the other instructors responded to our questions? Find the full list here.

“Grades and engagement have increased since going all digital. I have received positive feedback from my students who now come to class more prepared and familiar with course content.”

MHE: What impact did requiring digital have on your students’ success?
Terri Zuccaro: I have had an increase in grades and more engagement & class discussion by using digital. In the past, I gave my students a short in-class quiz before I lectured on a chapter to try to force them to read the chapter. Now, instead of an in-class quiz, I assign LearnSmart for them to complete before class. I have received positive feedback from my students on using LearnSmart. They find it more fun and interactive than the in-class quiz. My students now come to class more prepared from using the LearnSmart and familiarizing themselves with the chapter content.

MHE: Which digital tools do you use in your class?
Terri Zuccaro: I use Connect, LearnSmart, the ConnectPlus eBook (now SmartBook), PowerPoints, and interactive presentations.

MHE: When did you begin using digital tools in your classes and what did it replace, if anything?
Terri Zuccaro: I began using digital tools approximately five years ago. It replaced lots of paper and manual grading.

MHE: When did you decide to require them as part of the course grade?
Terri Zuccaro: I required them as part of the course grade from the beginning.

MHE: What percentage of your course grade is made up by digital tools like Connect and LearnSmart?
Terri Zuccaro: I currently teach both face-to-face and hybrid courses. For my face-to-face courses, Connect & LearnSmart comprise 55% of the grade. For my hybrid courses, Connect & LearnSmart comprise 100% of my course grade.

MHE: Why is it important to require digital rather than make it optional?
Terri Zuccaro: I have come to learn that students will only do the work if it is a part of the grade. Connect & LearnSmart are not optional in my classes.

MHE: What advice do you have for instructors who are incorporating digital into their courses for the first time?
Terri Zuccaro: Talk to peers who are currently using digital products in their class and ask what has worked best for them in their courses. Don’t overwhelm your students by assigning too much initially. Ask for constructive feedback from your students when you try something new.

MHE: What are you able to do now that you couldn't do before you required digital?
Terri Zuccaro: The reporting tab in Connect allows me to assess my students more effectively and efficiently than before. Based on my reports, I can view which content my students are having difficultly understanding, and tailor my future lectures/assignments/exams to assist in that particular area. I can also have multiple due dates & time requirements for assignments, exams, and students if needed. In addition, the gradebook allows my students to have access to all their grades at any time.