Contributor: Anna Cox, Kellogg Community College.
The 2015 Enhanced WebAssign Summer Training Institute was an extraordinary learning experience.
Our instructors were Faculty Partners, Daniel Roddin and Willem Wallinga, who provided great information and concrete ideas to help us actively engage and motivate our math students. This training was incredibly valuable.
Having a small group of participants in the same location is my personal favorite method of learning due to the sharing of ideas and knowledge. Being able to discuss concepts and experiences along with brainstorming new ideas and hearing what others have tried is one of the most valuable parts of the event.
Sharing Best Practices
I am inspired when I hear what others have tried and learn of their successes. Ideas such as scaffolding exercises so problems have multiple steps where students show work along the way was a new and creative approach I had not considered. Being able to have the problems become increasingly more complex with less support from Enhanced WebAssign is a method that I hope to incorporate in the future development of my classes.
Receiving Valuable Support
The ratio of knowledgeable people to learners at the Summer Training Institute was excellent. This allowed for small group interactions along with personalized attention. Our instructors truly encouraged us to experiment, to try what we were comfortable with, and to expand and grow from there. Discussion of starting small and being aware Cengage Learning and others will offer support and expertise was a message repeated throughout the event, and I believe it is important to reinforce in order to embolden us to investigate more of the program.
Because of the extensive flexibility and power of Enhanced WebAssign, the program may at times feel overwhelming and intimidating. Knowing support is available is a crucial message and important to my success. Learning about course coordinators and how to set up the various settings and the detailed discussion on who owns and controls what was informational. I had not thought of the various roles and expectations one might need in order to have course consistency especially in a larger institution. A valuable lesson was understanding how much flexibility Enhanced WebAssign can allow and yet, at the same time, realizing you do not have to use all that power.
Learning from Colleagues
Discussions from other institutions were also enlightening, such as learning about a law suit of using gradebook features in programs such as Enhanced WebAssign versus following the syllabus and the clearly defined grading procedure. I went back to my college and immediately turned off the overall grade feature due to realizing that some of my assignments’ grades that did not involve Enhanced WebAssign had not been put in the gradebook. I realize that I can input grades in to the gradebook but have not taken the time to do this while learning the program.
Inviting Questions and New Ideas
Overall, I like Enhanced WebAssign and realize I have much more to learn. That said, I wish Enhanced WebAssign would allow me to reply to a student when I have an e-mail notifying me of an extension request or a question. I dislike that I must log in to Enhanced WebAssign to reply to the student because it is time consuming.
The best portion of the entire institute was allowing participants to ask questions even if it was not directly related to the scheduled topic. I believe many of us came with specific questions and ideas of what we wanted to have addressed and for the participants to be allowed to direct the information of the institute was exceptional. It allowed for participants to feel valued and created an environment of encouraging ideas and questions. I wish all trainings allowed for this flexibility.
Receiving White Glove Service
The Enhanced WebAssign Summer Training Institute was one of the best professional development events in which I have had the opportunity to participate. I personally wish it was longer and that we could all work on one course together and leave with a finished product that everyone could share. I never had a company do this, but I believe for people like myself who have little support from colleagues at their institution that this would be extremely beneficial. It would allow more time to actually use the program, develop the skills, and build confidence. Upon returning to our home colleges, we would then have more resources to train others. I believe that more days of training and a focused final goal would be a great way to build that confidence.
In closing, let me state the Cengage Learning staff were amazing and truly supported us in our journey of understanding. Ryan Ahern, Danae April, Mark Linton, Angela Swider, Elizabeth Yoke, and Eric Ziegler were extraordinary and deserve recognition for an outstanding Enhanced WebAssign Summer Training Institute. I appreciate being given the opportunity to participate and would be delighted to have a more extensive training in the future. Thank you for giving me Enhanced WebAssign and the skills to help my students become successful learners.