We interviewed Somerset Community College Associate Professor, Kim Toby, about best practices for planning your course with Connect and your Quality in Online Learning Certification.
How would you recommend a new faculty member get started?
"First off, McGraw Hill Connect® is very user friendly, so a new faculty member can intuitively use the materials. Next, a new faculty member should utilize the Adaptive Learning Assignment and assign a good amount of points to this area. These Adaptive Learning Assignments are where students will learn concepts and apply them to real-life situations. This area is a crucial piece of the learning process because it allows the student to put the concepts into practice, thus allowing for a more meaningful and mindful learning experience.
I would suggest a new faculty member-only use a couple of things when they start out. Less is more. However, it was and still is difficult for me to choose the best items for homework because everything is top-notch."
What are some of the standards you need to keep in mind?
"Each university or college has its own set of quality assurance or academic standards policies. For my college, our language is Quality Matters. The four underlying principles of Quality Matters are: Continuous, Centered, Collegial, and Collaborative. Continuous meaning never-ending improvements. Centered on student learning meaning the rubrics and processes are designed to promote student learning. Online learning should be reviewed and should promote faculty in improving the courses through diagnostic and collegial efforts. Finally, collaborative meaning there is more than one way to meet standards.
While each university or college has a different language set, the standards are universal. McGraw Hill has content that is proven through research and best practices, which is what all post-secondary education strives to reach... a proven track record of best practices and student learning."
What specific Connect tools would you recommend using?
"It's hard to narrow that down because it is ALL good! However, I have taken my own advice. This year I am using the Adaptive Learning Assignments, a homework piece, and a quiz for each module. This has proven to be more successful and meaningful to students rather than having them do it all. Students want to know why they need to know things, and they want to put things into practice quickly. They don't want a bunch of busywork. I would recommend assigning the Adaptive Learning Assignments, and I would assign different types of homework throughout the various modules (meaning I may assign a self-assessment in one module and a role-play in another module), and then finish it off with a quick assessment (test).
In Connect Master for Student Success, most of the homework items are reflective questions, which ask students to customize the concepts to their life. Students can relate and quickly put the concepts into practice."
When you are building your Student Success Course, what do you suggest building into the course to help make sure students don’t get ‘lost in the shuffle’ in an online environment?
Our LMS is Blackboard (Bb), and we must utilize the Learning Management System (LMS) in our classes. Connect is easy to embed into Bb, but for this discipline, it does link out to the Connect site. We are required to use other things in Bb that don't link out to another site. In this instance, we use discussion board questions to have students engage with one another.
I have used a scavenger hunt in our Student Success course. They may not be engaging directly with classmates, but it does allow them to see what resources we have on our campus. Due to COVID-19, all our material can be found online, so this activity helps them engage in all areas of the college online.
We also require our students to make an appointment with their advisor during the semester. They can earn bonus points for enrolling in the next semester early.
We also require students to write an essay about themselves. The kicker is they must meet with a tutor to get feedback from their essay. The feedback is part of their online upload and then the student can make corrections or re-write the essay before turning it in. We started this during the Summer 2020 term and the results have been very promising. The writing is much better, and the essays are more along the lines of what we were looking for. Before this, essays were all over the place from two sentences to seven-page research papers.”