Computing

Skills Assessment Manager Helps First Generation College Student Confronted with Challenges and Technology

Matthew Kisiel, a freshman at Northern Arizona University, is the first in his family to attend college. Despite being a Computer Information Systems major and tech savvy, Kisiel was a bit suspect of the technology that greeted him on campus.

Though he was initially uncertain about Skills Assessment Manager (SAM), Kisiel says that the platform has improved his critical thinking skills, test preparation, and overall academic performance. Kisiel also credits SAM’s “learn at your own pace” features with helping him grow personally and become more independent.

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Instructors Frustrated with Manual Grading and Data Entry Turn to SAM for Relief

The time that Computing faculty at Northern Arizona University (NAU) spent on data entry and hand grading prevented them from spending as much time on classroom learning and student achievement. It’s why the they began searching for a digital solution that would improve both the student and faculty experience.

As an instructor of an Introduction to Computer information Systems at NAU, Brandon Jones became part of a five-member faculty team tasked with identifying ways in which the university might provide students a more effective way to learn Microsoft Office Applications while simultaneously reducing the time instructors spend hand grading student assignments.

In the following success story, you’ll read about some of the many benefits that SAM has brought to instructors at Northern Arizona University. Instructor grading is now completely automated allowing teachers to focus more time and attention on students. In addition, student achievement has increased as students are now able work at their own pace and engage with SAM in ways that improve their understanding of course material.

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Implementing a Customized SAM Solution Leads to Positive Student Results

Chuck Louviere is a lead instructor in the Information Systems and Technologies department at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC) campus. His current responsibilities include course design and development for an introductory level general education computer course called Computer Concepts with Applications, which services 1,200 to 1,300 students yearly.

Chuck’s deep experience means he has interacted with virtually all of the major IT digital learning solutions. When he started his position at OSU, Chuck felt that circumstances dictated the department begin searching for a new digital learning solution for the introductory course. This began a yearlong evaluation of digital learning solutions. During this process, Chuck appreciated Cengage Learning’s willingness to customize the platform to his needs. He also noticed SAM’s user-friendliness, and noted that that SAM would be easy to implement in a large, multi-section course.

As a result of the school’s recent switch to SAM, Chuck has already observed an increase in student scores using SAM Paths, and appreciates the added practice that SAM gives to students in the areas where they need it the most.
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20th Annual Cengage Learning Computing Conference: Register Today!

Join us in Phoenix, Arizona March 18-20, 2015 for the 20th Annual Cengage Learning Computing Conference – the premier professional development event of the year for Computing educators! Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about the latest tools from Microsoft® and Adobe®, collect and share best teaching practices, network with colleagues from across the country, get training on SAM and be inspired by motivating speakers and keynotes. Review the agenda for the conference! New this Year: The Unconference Session. Choose from eight sessions designed based on past attendee feedback and with an eye toward collaborating to better the future of computing Read More…


Collaboration in an A+ Setting

Guest Contributor: Melisa ‘Joey’ Bryant, Forsyth Technical Community College (Winston-Salem, North Carolina). Teaching hardware classes, specifically certification courses, such as an A+ course, can be challenging on the best of days. Not only do we have to concentrate on the requirements of the class, we must also make sure we are covering the certification exam requirements. We can be so focused on these requirements that collaboration between students becomes secondary. Throw in the challenge of an online class and it becomes more difficult still. At Forsyth Technical Community College, we offer our A+ Hardware and A+ Software classes Read More…


Proper Preparation Is Required: The SAM Path to Student Success

Guest Contributor: Eric J. Schmieder, Johnston Community College (Smithfield, North Carolina). We had thought that we did everything right this time. Well, as much as you can, knowing that there is always room for improvement. So imagine the shock for three full-time and four adjunct instructors teaching a collective twenty-five sections of CIS 110, Introduction to Computers, when the average grade across all sections on the first exam covering Microsoft Word 2010 was in the upper 40s! One of the major goals as we redesigned the fall 2012 offering of CIS 110 at Johnston Community College was to develop Read More…


Computer and Internet Literacy: Engaging and FUN

Guest Contributor: Sandy Keeter, Seminole State College, Florida. Engaging and motivating students is ALWAYS a challenge. How do YOU encourage them to come to class, much less do the work and think critically? We have a few solutions! Last year, we completely renovated our “Basic Computer Concepts” course to make it more current, appealing and relevant. The new name is “Computer and Internet Literacy” and the only book we use is Emerge with Computers – Online. By using this product, we have created an environment that encourages students to do what they all love to do Read More…


Efficacy of SAM Projects in Intro to Computing Courses

Given the importance that employers place on computer applications skills in a wide variety of fields, it is not surprising that increasingly colleges and universities are requiring their students to take a computer applications course as a prerequisite for graduation. Additionally, students also realize the value of proficiency in computer applications, most notably Microsoft® Office applications, as critical skills for employment and advancement. To meet the demand of increased enrollments, and to provide students with opportunities to apply computer application skills to real-world tasks and activities, college instructors are embracing the use of online solutions that provide opportunities for proficiency assessment and auto grading.

To gain an understanding as to how these types of digital tools can improve outcomes in real classroom settings, Project Tomorrow collaborated with Cengage Learning to evaluate the efficacy of the use of SAM online projects within Microsoft applications courses during the spring semester of 2014. Read More…


A Decade of Success with SAM at Ole Miss

Teresa McCarver is the adjunct instructor for computer science and manager of the IT help desk for The University of Mississippi. The university has been using SAM (Skills Assessment Manager) — an online learning environment for Microsoft® Office — for ten years.

Starting with SAM XP Training and Assessment in 2004, Teresa used SAM in conjunction with the New Perspectives in Microsoft® Office textbook. In 2009 she added Projects to SAM, and is now using SAM 2013. Teresa credits SAM with helping students learn more effectively while also saving instructors time, thereby freeing them to focus on other important teaching activities. Read More…


An Experiment with SAM Projects Produces Positive Early Results

Rex Parr has been teaching Introduction to PC Applications at Aims Community College (ACC) in Greeley, Colorado, for nearly 20 years. ACC has used a number of different course materials and methods throughout this period — including a previous version of SAM (Skills Assessment Manager), an interactive online environment for learning Microsoft® Office skills and computer concepts. At one point, the Computer Information Systems (CIS) department switched from SAM in an effort to incorporate more soft skills into classes, but later decided it was time to revisit the product. Rex was prompted to try SAM again because he liked the looks of the projects component.

In this Success Story, you’ll learn what Rex discovered regarding the ability of SAM Projects to give students practice in applying Microsoft® Office concepts and skills in real-world projects.
You’ll also learn how SAM’s auto-grading feature saves instructors’ time, makes it easier for instructors to monitor student progress, and provides students with instant feedback that helps them take immediate corrective action. Read More…