All posts by Labyrinth Learning

Let Your Students Have a Do-Over

By Alec Fehl, author of Labyrinth Learning’s Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2016 Essentials and Your Digital Foundation

Learning to Walk

Do you remember learning to walk? Neither do I. Perhaps it went something like this:

Tried to stand up. Fell down. Tried to stand up. Fell down again. Did this for several days. Was finally able to stand. Tried to take a step. Fell down. Tried another step. Fell down. Bumped my head. Cried a little. Tried another step. Woo-hoo! Did it! Tried a second step. Fell down. Repeated process until I walked.

That may not be the exact sequence, but I bet it’s close. I learned by getting a lot of do-overs, and I know this didn’t happen:

Tried to stand up. Fell down and said, “Oh well…I’ll just try to move on to running.”

Why a Do-Over?

Do your students get one chance at an assignment, receive a grade, and then move on to the next assignment? Most of my students worked that way. Get a C and never look back. My students would fail to master concepts if their end goal was simply a grade.

How do educators address this?

With the current education system, we must find a way to balance facilitating learning with the administrative requirement of assessing, tracking, and rating progress.

I’ve had success in my classes by offering “virtually unlimited do-overs.”

How to Do a Do-Over

To begin, I give assignments with an initial due date. I assess these initial submissions and give detailed feedback, commenting on what’s good and what needs improvement or completion. Here’s the kicker: If I leave feedback, the initial grade is zero. Rather than give a letter grade or percentage, I label the assignment “complete” or “not complete.” My feedback indicates exactly what’s needed for me to consider the work complete.

And my feedback comes with a 48-hour deadline extension. They resubmit within the timeframe and the process repeats: They get more feedback, a “not complete” rating, and another 48 hours to work. This continues until the student either completes the assignment (100%) or misses a deadline and the incomplete rating (0%) sticks.

Benefits of Giving Do-Overs

  • I focus less on determining a grade and more on giving relevant feedback.
  • Students learn revision skills, how to accept critique, and other soft skills.
  • Students work, to some degree, at their own pace.
  • Students are motivated to improve from their mistakes, creating a mindset of lifelong learning.
  • Students benefit from formative assessment as they work through mistakes and are more likely to achieve concept/skill mastery.

While this may not be the perfect system for every discipline, I have used a more detailed version with great success in my classes for almost 30 years.

Teaching Microsoft Applications: Encourage Individuality, Encourage Experimentation

By Alex Scott, triOS College; Author of Labyrinth Learning’s Microsoft® Excel 2016 Comprehensive

Over years of using and teaching Microsoft Office programs, I’ve often wondered why there are so many ways to do the same thing. Many users are familiar with at least two methods of executing a common task like copy and paste using keyboard shortcuts or the context menu. But for new users, alternatives methods can be intimidating and difficult to remember.

Students with tablet

In my class I tell my students there are usually at least three ways to do the same thing! For example, say I want to copy the word “Microsoft” and use it in another location. I have four options:

  • Ribbon commands
  • Right-click to open the menu of commands
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Drag and drop

How do students know which method to choose?

Start Where You Are Comfortable

New Way and Old Way

New users can feel overwhelmed by these options, so focusing on one approach is a great way to start.  I tell them to focus on the method that makes most sense for them, whatever they are comfortable with. Everyone learns differently, and each student can decide what is right for them.

Experiment!

As their confidence increases, I encourage them to try different ways, to see how the task might be done easier or faster using a different method. More experienced users sometimes get into the habit of using the same method to do all tasks, so even students who are familiar with Office programs can benefit from trying new techniques.

Implement Methods That Increase Productivity

In the work world it isn’t just about getting the work done, it’s also about getting things done quickly and efficiently, using the best method possible.

I’ve noticed patterns when I use certain methods. When I was writing my Excel textbook, a big part of the work was using Word to format and edit the content I drafted. I found that when I made a simple change – using shortcuts for copying and formatting – my time was drastically decreased!

Even as an advanced user, I find myself going back to the Ribbon—even for tasks that would be accomplished more quickly using the mouse or keyboard. The key is to know as many different methods as possible, and to remind yourself to look for an alternative approach to complete a task instead of always doing things the same way.

The best way to do something isn’t necessarily the way you’ve done it in the past, and methods that work for some situations aren’t always the best for others.

Be willing to experiment and you will gain productivity!

Multimedia Learning Tools: Cater Your Classroom to Every Learning Style

As any good teacher knows, no two learners are alike. Fortunately, professors and community college instructors have more tools than ever to help reach all types of students. Online learning comes with interactive modules and engaging video components that take learning far beyond what traditional textbooks can offer. In particular, video can offer “visual clues” that stimulate memory and problem solving, accelerating the learning process and helping students to deepen their understanding of the topics you teach. Researchers have also found that video’s unique blend of audio and visual cues can help students absorb new information most efficiently.

Using Video and Web Tools in the Interactive Classroom

Your students have grown up with screens and phones that deliver quick hits of information and entertainment at the touch of a button, so relying on ordinary textbooks and 60 minutes of lecture isn’t going to capture their interest. Instead, consider adding short videos and interactive components that let students practice what they’ve learned in a hands-on way. Here are some suggestions to get started:

  • Spark Discussion: Break up your lecture with a short video and use it as a jumping off point for discussion. Have pairs tell each other what they think, and then have those pairs combine into groups of four to six to work through post-video questions. You can be a “guide on the side” instead of the leader for a change of pace.
  • Hands-on Practice: Interactive modules are especially useful in computer classes, where navigating through drop-down menus on Word or Excel will help your students learn the program far more quickly than just reading about it. Have students pull up practice modules on their laptops to try a skill while you’re still there to clear up misconceptions to accelerate their understanding on the spot.
  • Flipped Classrooms: Video and other online learning modules make it easier than ever “flip” the learning model. Instead of using classroom time to explain a new concept and send students home to practice it, try having them watch a video at home first. When they get to class, you can use your time to answer questions and practice the new skill, which is often a much more efficient use of everyone’s time.

Online Learning Addresses All Learning Styles

Researchers have spent years trying to figure out what makes students tick, and the result is the theory of learning styles that describe sensory modes for absorbing new information. By offering video and web learning, you can help reach students who prefer to learn in different ways. For example, visual learners reap the benefits of videos and web graphics when they shift to online textbooks. They can efficiently scan the page to click on the diagram or chart that supports the text and even pull it up into a popup window for continual reference as they read. Videos with demonstrations that show people using a computer program or solving a problem serve as a high-speed highway of information absorption for these learners.

Online learning also addresses auditory and kinesthetic learners’ needs. Video helps auditory learners absorb material, especially if it’s a recorded lecture with a professor’s voice explaining material. These learners can listen to in-depth discussions and take notes without ever looking up — or they can simply pause or rewind when they need to review a detail. Kinesthetic learners master new concepts by touch and manipulation, so they love to interact with computer programs like Microsoft Office and QuickBooks. An interactive web module allows students to try their hands at using the software as they learn, making it the ultimate hands-on approach.

Multiple Modes for All

Accessing material in a range of ways helps the brain create additional neural pathways, which reinforces learning and allows the brain to retrieve long-term memories more easily. Using a judicious combination of text, video, interactive resources and the teacher’s human touch is the best way to enhance learning and reach students of all types.

Want to learn more about interactive online textbooks that will enhance your teaching of business and computer courses? Contact Labyrinth Learning to see the latest programs for Microsoft Office applications, Payroll Accounting, QuickBooks and more.

 

Career Opportunities in California Correctional Education

The California Office of Correctional Education (OCE) is seeking educators for a variety of positions. The OCE adult schools serve several thousand California state inmates each day by providing programming in Adult Basic Education, High School Equivalency, Voluntary Education Program, and Career Technical Education. Libraries offer materials to support inmate employment, community reentry and life skills. The libraries also provide legal resources and recreational and educational materials at each prison. OCE programming includes face to face college classes, distant education, recreation services, educational television programming and community transition planning.

Does this sound like something you might find rewarding? Learn more about available positions such as a Senior Librarian, Librarian, Library Technical Assistant, Academic Teacher, or Career Technical Education (CTE) Instructor. Details can be found at this link: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Rehabilitation/OCE/hiring.html

Brian Favro of Labyrinth Learning recently saw firsthand how the Office of Correctional Education is transforming the state prison system when he attended the inauguration ceremony of the San Quentin Machine Shop. This innovative program is one of several using education and job training to give inmates a greater chance of getting and retaining a job once outside the prison walls, thereby lowering their chances of returning to prison.

The San Quentin Machine Shop and the Last Mile (https://thelastmile.org/) are just two examples of the types of programs being delivered by the Office of Correctional Education.

Watch the videos below to be inspired by the difference these programs are making.

First Five Episodes of “Titans of CNC”

Episode 1 – https://vimeo.com/214059332/741094df84
Episode 2 – https://vimeo.com/214065569/f1edb6ed6d
Episode 3 – https://vimeo.com/214071002/45103f74a8
Episode 4 – https://vimeo.com/214091419/5bb0c84d44
Episode 5 – https://vimeo.com/214189327/4c18568b73

Payroll Accounting – Teaching Today’s Students

Are you looking for new ideas on keeping students engaged in your Payroll Accounting class?

We’ve got some tips and techniques to help you change up your typical routine.  There is no right (or wrong!) way to teach payroll, but we hope to help you optimize the results you can get this year.

Finding the time to research new ideas and solutions can be overwhelming, so we have created a series of webinars that we’re sure instructors will find valuable this time of the year.

Whether or not you are using a Labyrinth Learning Solution, tune in to a webinar to learn ideas, tips, and techniques for adding elements to your class, and improving student outcomes.

Join our webinar: 8 steps you can take to improve student outcomes in your payroll course to learn:

payroll classroom

  • Methods for implementing a practical approach
  • Tips on maintaining student interest
  • Techniques to help prevent students from feeling overwhelmed
  • Issues associated with teaching payroll-related federal forms, various calculations, and state payroll nuances
  • There will also be a live question-and-answer period at the end

Presenter Eric Weinstein, an instructor at Suffolk County Community College (NY), will share best practices for both in-class and online courses.

Two sessions:

Friday, Sept 9, 2016
Time: 10am Pacific / 12noon Central / 1pm Eastern

Wednesday, Sept 14, 2016
Time: 1pm Pacific / 3pm Central / 4pm Eastern

 

Are you SURE you have the best materials for your course?

Our fourth edition textbook comes with eLab for automated assessment. Who doesn’t like to have automatically graded practice sets – and lots of them!

We think you’ll find that using our materials will provide your students with a significant advantage over their peers upon entering the workforce with the skills they need to be successful!

Our product manager, Jason Favro,Payroll-fourth-edition will present our text: Payroll Accounting: A Practical, Real-World Approach, and all of the solution elements that are complimentary for both instructors and students.

Rick Street, Professor at Spokane Community College (WA) will join us to share his experience switching to Labyrinth, as well as the success he has had with his students using the this payroll accounting solution.

Join our webinar to hear about the:

  • Table of Contents, and how our approach follows the payroll cycle
  • Structure of the Labyrinth approach, including practice set and problem methodology
  • Solution components and the ease of switching to Labyrinth
  • Practical approach elements of the textbook that can help your students be more successful in the course
  • eLab Homework Grader featuring automated grading of practice sets

Two sessions:

Tuesday, Sept 20, 2016 1:30pm PST / 3:30pm CST / 4:30pm EST

Friday, Sept 23, 2016 12noon PST / 2pm CST / 3pm EST

 

Check out eLab – for automated assessment and grading!

If you think that the Labyrinth solution might be just what you need to kick-start your Payroll class into gear – then join us for our webinar: eLab Homework Grader.

In this webinar, we will:LabLearning-eLab-joint-logo

  • Set up eLab and the “ready to go” course for Payroll Accounting
  • Demonstrate eLab Homework Grader (one eLab license comes free with every textbook)
  • Explain customization features – set up the Practice Sets to best meet your class needs
  • Create assignments and tests for student practice, for homework, and for testing.

We will have plenty of time to answer questions, and walk you through how easy it would be to switch to our Payroll Solution in time for January.

One session:

Wed, Sept 28, 2016 1pm Pacific / 3pm Central / 4pm Eastern

QuickBooks 2015 Author Pat Hartley Wins Top 100 ProAdvisor Awards

Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Labyrinth Learning would like to announce that our QuickBooks Pro author Pat Hartley has won the Top 100 Pro Advisor Awards for the second year in a row!

Pat is an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor and an Advanced Certified QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor. She offers hands-on workshops, one-on-one training specific to the user both in-person and remotely, and cleanup services where she will clean up a QuickBooks data file, then provide the training needed to maintain it going forward. “My business is dedicated and passionate about providing the business owners and accounting professionals with the keys to success using QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online,” Pat says.

The Top 100 ProAdvisor Awards are presented each year. To qualify, nominees must hold a current certification in QuickBooks Desktop and/or QuickBooks Online and have an active practice with one or more clients. Open nominations begin in January, and once candidates are nominated, they complete a very detailed application providing information on their businesses and any other applications that they use or are certified in. Candidates must complete and submit this application within ten days of their nominations. The application is then scored by a committee. Once this is complete, all qualified nominees are announced, and a ballot is sent out for clients, associates, and friends to vote for their ProAdvisor.

As a QuickBooks expert, Pat sees the popularity of online banking and accounting rising in the near future, which would follow the trend of other online versions of apps and services taking off. “Small businesses are becoming more mobile,” she says. “They need to assess Customer and Sales data on the spot. I see less and less of business owners wanting to be tied to a computer at the office. Business owners want the info available on their phones or tablets.”

Pat is the author of our QuickBooks Pro 2015 books, and is currently authoring our upcoming title QuickBooks Online, which will be released next spring.

Everyone at Labyrinth Learning congratulates Pat on her achievement!

QuickBooks Desktop (Windows) or QuickBooks Online? What Is the Difference?

By Pat Hartley, MBA

I am asked almost daily, “What is the difference between QuickBooks for the desktop and QuickBooks Online?” Or “Are they different?” Or “Aren’t they the same?”

To give an answer is to be put in a quandary. You may as well ask, “What is the difference between the Windows operating system and the MAC operating system?” They both do the same thing – operate our computers – just differently!

Intuit’s QuickBooks desktop software has been one of the staples of accounting software for small- to mid-sized businesses since the late 1990s. It has grown, and new-and-improved features and images have been updated annually since then. Businesses and accounting professionals have become comfortable with QuickBooks for the desktop. Still, Intuit has recently increased its emphasis on and resources for QuickBooks Online, a different accounting software product. It does the same thing that QuickBooks for desktop does – our accounting – just differently!

QuickBooks Online is not a copy of the QuickBooks desktop software that has simply been enabled for the web. QuickBooks Online is new and different! Below are some features found in QuickBooks Online that you won’t find in QuickBooks for the desktop.

  • Remote access – You have access to the software anywhere on any device that is web-enabled.
  • Automatic Daily Bank Feeds for bank and credit card accounts.
  • Automatic updates – QuickBooks Online is updated frequently, and you’re always on the most current version.
  • FIFO inventory valuation
  • Location tracking, which is a second level of class tracking.
  • Invoice automation – You can automatically create an invoice from unbilled activity.
  • Delayed charges and billing
  • Allows more than one Accounts Receivable or Accounts Payable on a single journal entry
  • Report automation – You can schedule reports to be sent automatically.
  • Activity Log – Allows you to view login dates and times

These are just some of the features that I use, and there are many more. Each month more features and improvements are made. There is truly a big difference in the general workflow.

QuickBooks for the desktop has some robust features that I miss in QuickBooks Online, like the multitude of reporting options and a more extensive inventory-management feature. However, QuickBooks Online has added features every day, noted on a monthly blog for users.

Below is a comparison, provided by Intuit, of a few key features between the two types of software. It’s a good idea to analyze your business and how it functions to make the best choice. You can even take a test drive of QuickBooks Online. Good luck!

qb online

 

 

Pat Hartley is a Top 100 QuickBooks ProAdvisor 2015, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, an Advanced QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor, and a member of Intuit’s Trainer/Writer Network. Pat teaches courses on QuickBooks at multiple colleges and runs her own business, www.accountingonthego.com. She is author of the Labyrinth Learning textbook, QuickBooks Pro 2015, and is currently authoring Labyrinth’s QuickBooks Online title.

Sleeter Certified QuickBooks Consultant

Member National Advisor Network

New! Computer Basics for Windows 10.

We are excited to announce the launch of our new title: Welcome to Computer Basics: Windows 10 and Office Online.  It will be in-stock and ready for purchase on February, 22, 2016.

This book uses our effective instructional design and provides you Cover-Welcome-To-Computer-Basics-125with an easy way to teach students basic computer tasks in a Windows 10 and Office Online environment.

One great feature that is included is a unit on File Management.  We all know the importance of keeping files organized in a logical manner.  The exercises help students practice key elements that will help them be organized in the workplace, at school, and at home.

The book also provides beginner practice for using the Internet and Email, including creating the most common types of email accounts. The practice examples help students computerlab-students-g-354-236 get up to speed quickly and ensure a solid foundation for school or on the job.

We have posted resources for you to preview the highlights as well as the table of contents and content.

If you are teaching a computer basics class in a Windows 10 environment, be sure to check it out and let us know what you think.

 

QuickBooks is changing – are you ready?

If you’re planning on teaching a QuickBooks course next year, we have news to share — and we’d like to hear from you in a survey.QB16_700x449

Intuit recently announced that educational site licensing (Lab Packs) and 140-day QuickBooks student trial software will not be available for QuickBooks Pro
2016. If you upgrade every year, or you had planned to upgrade to the 2016 edition, this may leave you in a bind.

We have learned that Intuit will be making available, for the first time, educational site licensing and 140-day student trial licensing for QuickBooks Online, Intuit’s cloud-based version of QuickBooks. We also learned that educational site licensing and student trial software will still be available for QuickBooks 2015.

What am I going to do now? This is a question that many of the educators we have spoken to have asked themselves. I know many start offering the newest version of QuickBooks in summer classes, and the rest all switch to a new version in Fall (if they were planning to switch.)

I’m sure the last thing you need is yet another decision to make, so let me help with a few scenarios for you to consider:

  • You buy retail QuickBooks 2016 licenses, one for each computer in your lab (and expect students to purchase this also if they want to work from home), or you teach only-online classes, and expect the students to purchase the software themselves. Estimated retail cost is $199.95.
  • You feel that this is a push to try QuickBooks Online, and you’re up for it. You’ll write new curriculum that teaches only the QuickBooks Online features (which may have features different from QuickBooks Pro) and find exercises that work within the QuickBooks Online environment.
  • You’ll stay with QuickBooks 2015, or upgrade to this if you were on a previous version, and see what Intuit does next year for 2017. You also explore QuickBooks Online, from both a feature standpoint as well as the publisher materials for curriculum.

Any way you look at it, you have to make a change. And most educators we spoke to had no idea that this was happening, and now don’t know quite what to do.

We want to ensure that Labyrinth Learning’s plans for QuickBooks materials align with the plans you have for your courses. We invite you take a brief survey about your QuickBooks course plans. Your input will help us make publishing decisions in this subject area.

Championing Study Abroad for the Future Workforce

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Currently, 9.4% of college students study abroad. In an effort to increase this number, the Institute of International Education recently held a Generation Study Abroad Summit. The goals of this event were to promote the benefits of studying abroad and increase the number of students who study abroad, as well as diversify the types of students who have access to the opportunity through its Generation Study Abroad Initiative.

In an increasingly global economy, participation in a study abroad program is a valuable experience for one’s employability. Immersion in a different culture can aid in the development of important job skills, such as problem-solving, teamwork, cultural awareness, intercultural skills, and fluency in a foreign language. The IIE wants to reach more students and encourage them to study abroad to gain intercultural competencies that will make them more competitive candidates in the workplace. They would especially like to reach more students who are historically underrepresented in study abroad, like racial minorities, first-generation college students, veterans, and students who have disabilities.

This year, over 350 colleges have signed on to the Generation Study Abroad Initiative, which aims to double the number of students who study abroad within the next decade. Through this initiative, colleges have committed to various goals like increasing financial support for underrepresented students, expanding their international program offerings, and expanding short-term programs, like internship and volunteer abroad programs.

Contact Labyrinth Learning today for more information about our textbook offerings and full solutions.