NEW YORK, Sept. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- McGraw-Hill today announced a major upgrade to McGraw-Hill Connect®, the online learning platform of choice for hundreds of colleges and universities around the country. Drawing on the feedback of more than 125 instructors at 70 institutions, McGraw-Hill has streamlined and improved the platform's usability, making it easier than ever for instructors to create and manage their courses in less time. Connect now offers new features like a proactive at-risk student notification tool and automation enhancements of routine classroom tasks, allowing instructors to spend less time on course administration and more time teaching. The update to Connect is one of five major digital product releases that McGraw-Hill has introduced in the past month.
The product of more than 10,000 engineering hours, the newest version of Connect's digital teaching, assignment and assessment platform introduces many data-guided features, including a new at-risk student notification tool that helps professors spot struggling students and intervene earlier than ever before to ensure their engagement, performance and learning stays on track. Connect also now features an updated Gradebook to offer a more intuitive, interactive grading environment with unique, comprehensive data transparency for students. The new Gradebook allows instructors to access data more easily and automate changes across assignments, courses and sections, all while providing clearer information to students so they can better understand and self-correct their course performance.
Connect, which initially launched in 2009, is a digital assignment and assessment platform that strengthens the link between faculty, students and coursework, helping everyone accomplish their learning objectives in less time. In a new effectiveness study released in July, McGraw-Hill demonstrated that on average, instructors using Connect reduced their grading time by 77 percent. The study also revealed that Connect dramatically improves student engagement and performance by increasing the likelihood of students earning A's or B's in Connect classrooms by more than 50 percent.
"For this update of Connect, we worked closely with researchers, instructors, and students to create the industry's most intuitive and effective online learning environment," said Stephen Laster, chief digital officer of McGraw-Hill. "We made significant investments in real-time reporting for quicker insights into emerging classroom dynamics and process automation that frees professors for higher value teaching activities and adaptive learning technologies that personalize education. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with students, educators and institutions to ensure Connect and all of our digital learning solutions deliver the industry's strongest engagement, retention and learning results."
Connect offers several other new features and enhancements to the interface and functionality as well, further improving the experience for instructors and students, including:
- Course Builder and Assignment Builder updates that provide instructors with all the tools they need to easily create full courses and individual assignments. The Course Builder update opens access to LearnSmart Advantage™, a suite of adaptive learning products, and allows instructors to easily find a Connect course through improved search functionality. The Assignment Builder update offers several time-saving elements, like allowing updates across multiple assignments or students.
- An update to the LearnSmart user interface also allows instructors to more easily integrate adaptive learning technology into their courses, offering a consistent experience across the LearnSmart Advantage suite of products, including LearnSmart Labs, LearnSmart Prep and SmartBook.
- The introduction of a new Section Overview feature giving instructors instant access to important context about the course. This new feature is especially useful for instructors who have received a shared or copied course, a common practice in large courses with several sections.
- More comprehensive Share/Copy functionality across assignments and eBook annotations enable instructors to quickly and easily share and enhance their courses.
"All of us joke about wanting more hours in the day, but with Connect, you actually get them," said Melanie Waters, Director of Introductory Spanish at the University of Illinois. "Connect's ability to streamline and automate many of classroom management tasks allows me to have more time for higher-value activities like curriculum development, instruction, and student engagement. By having students complete some of the input activities in Connect, I can use valuable classroom time for more communicative activities, and the result is a more engaged class and stronger learning results."
In addition to the newest version of Connect, this summer McGraw-Hill has also completed major upgrades to Tegrity, a lecture capture product for the higher education market; ConnectED, a digital platform for the K-12 market; SRA FLEX Literacy, a digital-first reading and language arts intervention system for Grades 3–8; and Time To Know, a personalized digital learning environment for K-12.1 The new releases are part of a $130 million investment in digital research and development that the company has made over the past year.
The new features and updates offered in Connect are available to instructors and students immediately.