Author: Jeanne Heston

Increasing Student Engagement in Workforce Development Programs

An interview with Matthew Seeley, Product Team Manager, Cengage Learning. When you hear the words “workforce development program,” what comes to mind? Do you picture older adults, training for a new profession at a community college, established professionals studying for re-certification exams or taking courses in order to maintain their credentials, or high school students exploring careers and learning new skills? In reality, workforce development programs encompass all of the above scenarios, as well as a host of others. Matthew (Matt) Seeley has been working with teams that create teaching and learning solutions for a wide variety of courses that Read More…


Course Redesign, Online Learning, & Assessment in Developmental English

An Interview with Annie Todd, Product Director, Cengage Learning. Over the past few years, many institutions and states have embarked upon course redesign initiatives, particularly in Developmental Math and English courses. In the case of Developmental English, such efforts are typically accompanied by the integration of reading and writing courses into a single, combined course. Annie Todd, who has been working in the Developmental English discipline for the past seven years, has been part of this course redesign evolution. Jeanne Heston recently caught up with her to learn more about the projects that she has helped to drive over the Read More…


User Research: Uncovering the Real Needs of Instructors and Students

An interview with Christine Freeman, Manager, User Experience Services, Cengage Learning. We’ve all had frustrating experiences with software and websites that appear to have been designed with little or no knowledge of who the customer is – screens full of gadgets that are aesthetically appealing but so cumbersome to use that they make it difficult for us to achieve our goals. What makes great online teaching and learning tools great? Christine Freeman and her team know that it is all about building products that make it easier for instructors and students to achieve their goals – improved engagement and Read More…


Higher-Quality Written Assignments: The Role of Artificial Intelligence

An Interview with Erin Joyner, VP and General Manager, and Jason Fremder, Senior Product Manager, Cengage Learning. It has long been recognized by educators and employers that good written communication skills play a critical role in academic and career success. Eleven years ago, the College Board founded the National Commission on Writing to focus national attention on the importance of good writing skills and to help increase funding for programs that help students and job-seekers build their skills. Several years ago, Erin Joyner realized that Cengage Learning needed to provide a technology-based solution to instructors who wanted to increase their students’ opportunities to practice Read More…


Resources that Facilitate Mastery and Engagement in Chemistry Courses

An Interview with OWL Team Member William Vining, PhD. If you studied or taught Chemistry in high school or college back in the 1970’s, 1980’s, or earlier, you probably remember homework assignments that required hand drawings of molecules and hand-written responses. By the time the homework had been graded and handed back to students, particularly if the class size was large, the class had moved on to another topic. Because of the lag time, the professor’s feedback could not be easily used to help the student master a set of concepts before the class had moved on to a more Read More…


Online Learning and Assessment in Math Courses

An interview with Gary Whalen, Editor, Pre-calculus & College Algebra, Cengage Learning.  Do you remember your very first college math class? If you graduated from college more than 15 years ago, you probably used a calculator to complete your course work, along with scratch paper and a lot of pencils. And if you were working on Calculus homework late at night and reached an impasse, there was no one to call for hints or direction. If the course was a 6- or 8-week summer course, the issue was compounded by the fact that you did not have much time Read More…


Applying Gamification to Education

For the past several years, the category of “Game-Based Learning” has appeared in the New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Report: Higher Education Edition, classified as a set of trends to watch in the two-to-three year horizon. In the 2013 edition of this report, the category was renamed to be “Games and Gamification.” Several weeks ago, this blog featured a number of posts on the use of games in education, clearly a hot topic, as evidenced by the number of readers who have accessed these articles since the original post dates. As the Horizon Report points out, games and gamification are not Read More…


Beyond eTextbooks

Over the past several years, publishers and educational technology companies have increased their focus on creating tools to help improve student outcomes in individual courses, overall rates of student retention, and graduation rates. At the same time, there has been a focus on lowering the overall cost of education. One component of that equation is minimizing the time-to-graduation, a goal which can be accomplished by increasing the level of student preparedness and/or ensuring successful completion in remedial or college-level courses; another is decreasing the overall cost of materials. The tools and technologies that have emerged over the past few Read More…


The New Rules of LMS Content Integration

On campuses around the country—both physical and virtual—more and more instructors are being asked to increase course loads and to manage their workloads with fewer administrative resources. Driven by decreases in government and donor funding and increases in tuition discount rates, administrators have been forced to reduce the number of full-time teaching positions. At the same time, instructors are being asked to adopt new or expanded outcomes-based policies and assessments, to redesign courses, and to move more of their sections online. It is no wonder that many of them are looking for ways to streamline the course preparation Read More…


Making a Difference in Computing Courses

An Interview with Cheryl Costantini, VP, Brand Management, Cengage Learning. When business productivity applications were first launched in the early 1980’s for the brand-new personal computers that had been introduced by companies like IBM, Compaq, DEC, and NEC, software was delivered in a box that contained a packet of floppy disks and two manuals – a references manual and a user manual. Most users learned how use the products on their own, with both manuals open on their desks, next to their computers. There were training classes available, but many professionals simply did not have time to attend classes. The Read More…