Tag Archives: 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.

How Teachers can Improve Student Digital Literacy in Changing Demographics

digital literacy testing for students
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These days, many students are connected to the Internet and to technology nearly 24 hours per day through their smartphones. The use of this technology is changing the way students learn and the way instructors need to think of digital literacy testing for students.

It’s common for instructors to assume that because many of today’s students have grown up with technology, they are naturally digitally literate. However, this is not always the case. Just because students are immersed in technology doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to use it effectively. In order to enhance education, instructors should identify skills to enhance students’ use of their devices. They should also focus on teaching the benefits, dangers, and opportunities that come with today’s technology.

Digital literacy testing for students often indicates that they need help learning to use their devices to enhance learning. To raise digital literacy, instructors could teach:

  • How to use their devices to take notes and keep them organized
  • How to distinguish between reliable and non-reliable sources online
  • How to more effectively use search engines to find information
  • Strategies for protecting their privacy when using their devices

Teaching technology has moved away from teaching students how to turn on and navigate their devices and on to more detailed, specific topics that allow students to make the most of technology and use it responsibly.

We are committed to helping students learn and instructors teach. Our team invites you to contact us at Labyrinth Learning to learn more about our software.

Effective Ways to Assess Student Learning

assessing student learning
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When most instructors think about assessing student learning, what often comes to mind are tests, quizzes, and assignments. While these are certainly useful tools for motivating students to learn the material and for assessing student learning, there is another method to consider integrating into your approach.

Students generally begin a course with very little knowledge of a topic. They’re aware of the fact that they know very little. When the course has finished, they’re much more knowledgeable, but it’s hard to determine exactly how much they have learned — or which topics they learned well, and which are still unclear.

One way of assessing student learning is to ask a series of questions early in the course, and then repeat that same series of questions at the end of the course. By comparing the before-class and after-class answers, you can determine exactly which topics students learned well and which are still foggy.

To implement this method, you’ll need to start by outlining the key concepts of your course. Ask several big-picture questions about each topic that you feel will effectively evaluate whether a student understands that topic. Administer this assessment at one of the first classes, and again at one of the last. You could also choose to use this approach on a topic-by-topic basis. Ask a series of questions before each unit and again after each unit.

For more information regarding our student learning solutions, we invite you to contact us at Labyrinth Learning today.

How You can Help Your Students Learn to be Professional

helping students learn to be professional
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The transition from student to professional life is one that many young adults find difficult. By helping students learn to be professional, you as an instructor can help ease this transition. If your students at least know how to act and work in a professional setting, adapting to the other changes that come with the transition from college to working life will be easier.

Many instructors assume they are helping students learn to be professional by setting deadlines for assignments, setting attendance policies and including group projects in the curriculum. However, there seems to be a disconnect. Students do not always realize that these policies are in place in order to prepare them for working in professional settings. They assume that the challenge of working with non-contributing individuals on a group projects is unique to school, when it will really prepare them for when the same situation arises at work.

The secret to helping students learn to be professional is sharing your reasons behind your policies:

  • Tell them that the reason they’re not allowed to skip class is that they won’t be able to do so when they get jobs.
  • Let them know that the struggles of group work will not disappear after graduation, and the projects they’re completing will teach them how to handle it.

We offer software solutions to prepare your students for the workforce. Contact us at Labyrinth Learning to learn more about our products and how they can help simplify the experiences of teaching and learning.

Important Misconceptions Students have about Learning

misconceptions that students have about learning
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In order to get the most out of their education, students need to be able to learn efficiently and in a way that encourages them to retain the material, rather than simply forget it once the test is over. Understanding some common misconceptions that students have about learning will assist you in designing a curriculum and teaching style that fights these misconceptions and results in well-educated, prepared students.

Misconception #1: Knowledge is just a slew of facts.

A common student misconception about learning is that building knowledge is about learning more facts. In reality, knowledge is being able to tie these facts together, see how they relate, and understand their deeper meanings. Making sure you explain how individual concepts are related to one another will help break through this misconception.

Misconception #2: Natural talent, not hard work, makes someone good at a subject.

Provide your students with feedback throughout the semester, letting them know that their work is paying off and that they’re improving. They’re not just naturally talented; they’ve been putting forth effort to succeed.

Misconception #3: You can learn effectively while multitasking.

This common student misconception about learning is quite detrimental. Student think they learn well while also doing other things. Set policies, such as no texting during class, to encourage them to focus on the singular task of learning. They’ll find they have an easier time absorbing the material.

We invite you to contact us at Labyrinth Learning to learn about our accounting software for college students.

How Using Attendance Questions Enhances Learning

attendance questions for students
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Checking attendance is a regular routine that bores both teachers and students. Going down the list of students in your class while you listen for “here” or “present” doesn’t exactly set a great tone for the rest of your class. So, why not provide attendance questions for students instead?

Ask a question and then go through your class, allowing everyone to answer. Not only are you doing attendance, but you’re giving the students something more interesting to do. This also helps get them thinking and build their confidence, as it gives students who normally don’t speak up in class a chance to say something at the start of the day.

There are a number of questions that you can ask. For example, ask what the pet peeves of your students are. This is a great question as it will most likely elicit a lively discussion. It gives students a chance to get some complaints off their chest. Or ask about an early memory in order to get your students to self reflect. Just be sure to ask questions that won’t take too long to answer. You want to create an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable sharing and speaking up, but you don’t want to take half a class period to do so. Toward the end of a semester, you could ask what their favorite attendance question was.

Use attendance questions for students to enhance learning and contact us at Labyrinth Learning today for additional strategies for teachers.

Effective Group Work Strategies for Your College Students

effective group work strategies
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Group work is an excellent teaching method to employ as it results in students learning how to work with others and often requires the use of problem solving skills as well. However, one of the issues with group work is that some students will let the others in their group do all the work. The following are a few effective group work strategies to avoid this issue:

  • Work in phases – Split a project into phases. For example, the project idea phase, the project development phase and the preliminary project outcome phase. Require your students to check in after every phase so that you ensure the work is done in a timely manner.
  • Allow choices – Give your students some flexibility when it comes to the topic they choose as long as its relevant to what you are covering. This will create a sense of ownership amongst the group and will make your students more engaged.
  • Require individual work – To ensure every student is working within the group, assign individual work relating to the overall group work. For example, you can require that everyone submits a paper reflecting on the work he or she did within the group.
  • Allow time for getting to know one another – Allow some time for letting your groups get to know each other. Everyone has different styles of communication and work approaches.

Use these effective group strategies when assigning group work and contact us at Labyrinth Learning for additional teaching tips.

How to Effectively Teach Your Course Content

ways to teach your course content
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The quality of the course content in the college classroom is obviously important to a student’s success. However, in order to ensure that students get the most out of a class, it’s also essential that the course content is taught well. Here’s a look at a few easy ways to teach your course content more effectively:

  • Make sure the course content is organized in a clear-cut, progressive manner. Ideas should be introduced in an order that demonstrates how they build upon each other. Always start with basic concepts, and build up to more advanced concepts, even if that means back-tracking to a subject that you discussed earlier on.
  • Find ways to have your students think critically about the material you are teaching. This will encourage them to engage and process the material, rather than just memorizing it. Critically thinking about material will help make it a part of their permanent thought processes.
  • Always integrate discussion into your courses. If you only include lectures and quizzes, students will simply learn the material to pass the quiz. If they are required to discuss and talk about the material, however, they will have to learn it on a deeper level. You’ll notice that, as your students adapt to discussions throughout the semester, they’ll become more skilled at learning in this way.

Labyrinth Learning provides the software and course materials you need to enhance your course content in the college classroom. Contact us today to learn more about our range of products.

Instructors can Enjoy the Benefits of Microsoft Access 2013: Essentials

Microsoft Access 2013: EssentialsMicrosoft provides a number of different software options that are incredibly helpful in accomplishing any number of tasks. Because much of their software is incredibly in-depth, we recommend learning the ins and outs in order to make the most out of it. For example, using the Microsoft Access 2013: Essentials textbook in order to better understand the Microsoft Access program.

The Microsoft Access 2013: Essentials textbook covers a huge range of information for beginners to experts. The first unit provides instruction on how to use the Ribbon interface, how to create tables in Datasheet view, how to create database objects, how to design databases, how to preview and print data, how to format your tables, and much more. The second unit includes instruction on creating relational databases, modifying reports, creating customizable input forms, and more.

In the last unit, you’ll be instructed on the use of complex forms, complex reports, calculated controls, customizing your databases, customizing your user interface and more. All of the text is accompanied by integration lessons. The textbook is available in print as well as an advanced ebook, which also includes direct links and embedded video.

The textbook includes 12 lessons using a step-by-step, skills based approach. You’ll learn real-world focus that will help you to develop skills that you’ll be able to use immediately.

For more information about our Microsoft Access 2013: Essentials and our other in-depth textbooks and eBooks, be sure to contact our team at Labrynth Learning today.

We Loved Working with the Students at Suffolk County Community College

Suffolk County Community College
Teachers at Suffolk County Community College found our eLab materials to be very beneficial for the students in their Intro to Computer Applications classes.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

We can write all we want about the benefits of our eLab Course Management system but, truly, the proof is in the pudding. That’s why we wanted to share a recent case study in which Labyrinth Learning partnered up with instructors at Suffolk County Community College to help with ongoing issues experienced with their Intro to Computer Applications course.

The course is a prerequisite for certain educational tracks and is recommended for many others. The challenge, typical of any educational setting, was that students entered at different levels and while some were flying through course material, others lagged behind or failed altogether. Plus, instructors were concerned that students “sailing through” the course weren’t necessarily retaining the materials. Another challenge was that with hundreds of students to serve, it was difficult to keep up with and return assessments in a timely manner.

One instructor used the eLab course materials, one opted to use both the materials and the course management system and the third instructor stuck to the typical routine using a popular computer text book. The instructors who chose the eLab options were thrilled with how easy it was to familiarize themselves and set up the course materials.

Within a short amount of time, they noticed a significant difference in the classroom, including:

  • Improved student performance
  • A narrowing of the achievement gap
  • More independent working
  • Greater concept and materials retention
  • More streamlined and timely assessment feedback for students

Both instructors plan to continue using Labyrinth materials in their future courses.

Take your cue from Suffolk County Community College and partner up with Labryinth Learning. We’ll provide the eLab materials and the course management system to improve student performance and outcomes in your classrooms.