We interviewed West Kentucky Community & Technical College professor, Allison Smith, about best practices for planning your Intro to Business course with Connect and your Quality in Online Learning Certification.
How would you recommend a new faculty member get started?
“First and foremost, I would start off small. Just like when you are building something, you don't dump out your entire toolbox, you use the tools which will make your project the easiest and most efficient to get the best results. Start small. You can always add as you feel needed, but if you assign it all and overwhelm the students, they will see the Connect assignments as more of a punishment than a true learning tool.
I start every class build in McGraw Hill Connect by printing off the Connect Content Matrix available within Connect under Library and Instructor Resources. This is the blueprint of every chapter/module aligned to which assignable Connect activities correspond with them. The document also shows all assignment types broken down by learning outcomes, AACSB, difficulty level, and Bloom’s Taxonomy, allowing you to ensure you are choosing a good variety of activities. I like to print it out, and then highlight what I am going to use. Next, I check out the Instructor’s Manual or Instructor’s Resource Guide (also in the Instructor's Resources). This tool contains a wealth of resources from suggested syllabi, how to use Connect in different modalities, guidance for assigned activities, and where to find support.
To this day, I still use the Connect tutorials and guidance provided at supportateverystep.com. Connect has so many resources available to make the experience efficient and meaningful. Support is always at my fingertips when using Connect.”
What are some of the standards you need to keep in mind?
“The one Online Learning Consortium (OLC) standard I am always guided by is continuous improvement. Don't hesitate to modify or add to your Connect course as the semester goes or even from semester to semester. If you see your students need additional resources, then add them in. Some classes may need more basic understanding activities. Add those in for that particular group of students. Connect has so much at your disposal, so you can make changes for improvement.
Connect allows for the filtering of content for its assignments and exams based on learning topics, Bloom's Levels, as well as AACSB standards. It is easy to align the Connect content to what learning outcomes you’re measuring in the course based on this filtering capabilities.
Last but not least is the standard of accessibility for all students. McGraw Hill takes accessibility seriously, and it is very apparent inside of Connect, from reading the text for the student to a simplistic design with captions, tags, and other necessary ADA elements. The field has been leveled so students have the same opportunity for success.”
What specific Connect tools would you recommend using?
“I always make sure to use adaptive learning exercises. The adaptive exercises allow students to gain mastery of the key concepts, ensuring the lower-order Bloom's Levels of understanding and remembering are met. I consider this the most valuable tool in my toolbox because it gives each student an individual learning experience based on their prior knowledge and overall comprehension of the materials. Since this is the most important activity for each chapter/module, I make it worth the most points. Also, I recommend adjusting the time and number of questions for adaptive activities. Asking the student an hour of questions really does not help them any more than 25-30 minutes of questions. It will only make them resent the adaptive experience.
Still keeping it small, I pick anywhere from 2-4 higher-order activities like Video Cases, iSeeit! Videos, Click & Drags, or Application-Based Activities/Mini-Sims. These activities help students analyze, evaluate, and apply the concepts they were introduced to in the adaptive exercises. In my opinion, these types of activities help students understand the application of the concepts in the workplace and allow them a low-stakes, realistic experience to help their overall comprehension.
One thing I would also suggest is using the test bank. I know, shame on me! Use it to help you build a robust exam. These test banks are so robust you can use question polling to get a more secure testing experience. Add your questions in. I think of this as a collaboration. The testing in Connect is a very efficient, effective process.
Don't add to your stress! Use the tools at your disposal!”
How do you use the Application-Based Activities in your course?
My teaching style is best described as application-based. Teaching at a community college means many of my students may not get another business course before going to the workplace, so I feel it is my charge to show them how to apply the concepts as employers need them to in the workplace.
I focus the bulk of my Connect course on analyzing, evaluating, and applying exercises. The Application-Based Activities available presented as role-playing exercises and mini simulations place my students in the role of decision-makers in a low-stakes environment where they can make mistakes and learn from them. Both of these types of exercises are also great for classroom or online discussion board conversations, allowing students to elaborate on the WHY they made the decisions they did.