Monthly Archives: September 2013

textbook frustrates colleges students

Labyrinth Learning Textbooks & Learning Solutions Offer An Affordable Alternative

For many adults, the first experience with sticker shock happens in the most unlikely of ways – buying textbooks for college. After working hard, saving money, and scraping together the funds to pay for ever-increasing tuition statements, it can be heartbreaking to see the prices of the textbooks in the college bookstore. In an article by NBC contributor Martha C. Wright reports college textbooks have experienced triple-digit inflation over the past several years. The average college student has to spend $1200 on books each year, $1250 if they attend a private school.

student textbooks

As a result, professors, administrators and students are looking for more affordable alternatives, but so far there isn’t a mainstream solution. In fact, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group reported that as many as 70% of students have admitted to not buying textbooks that are “required” because they simply can’t afford them, which negatively impacts their academic performance. One of the biggest contributors to expensive textbooks is that the publishers continually create “new editions,” using virtually the same material, making it difficult for students with old copies to find the same chapter or practice materials by page number.

This is one of the reasons why Labyrinth Learning has been so committed to producing high-quality textbooks and eLearning materials for an affordable price. We love learning, and we don’t think finances should limit students from getting the best possible education. Contact us at Labyrinth Learning to purchase top-quality, affordable textbooks for your classroom.


computer literacy

Add Symbols With Alt Codes

At the most basic level, computer literacy means being able to navigate universally utilized software programs, such as the Microsoft Office Suite, knowing how to type in a reasonably quick manner (QWERTY style preferred!), and understanding how to use printers, scanners, and other basic computer accessories. Then there are the tricks that take your computer literacy to the next level; adding symbols with Alt codes is one example.

In a basic computer course, students learn to insert codes by using the editor feature of the program, scrolling to “insert” and then selecting the code they want to use. This is fine for the very occasional code, but what about the symbols you use on a regular basis? Perhaps you’re writing about a product that is trademarked™, you work with products or scenarios that are temperature specific°, or you incorporate foreign words that use accent symbols to enhance their pronunciación. In these cases, the Alt codes are your most efficient choices.

Keyboard short cuts
Source: Stock Exchange

To insert an Alt code (on Macs, use the Option key), you simply place the cursor where you want the symbol to appear, and then press Alt+Number Code. Voila! The symbol, or letter with an accent, will appear.

Here are some common examples:

  • Alt+0153 = ™
  • Alt+0162 = ¢
  • Alt+0169 = ©
  • Alt+0177 = ±
  • Alt+0225 = á
  • Alt+0233 = é
  • Alt+0237 = í
  • Alt+0243 = ó
  • Alt+0250 = ú
  • Alt+0241 = ñ

Visit Labyrinth Learning to review textbooks that will enhance your students’ computer literacy.

How Can Technology Enhance Learning?

Technology education enhances the classroom experience for instructors and students. In addition to keeping information organized and accessible 24/7, technology allows the learning process to be more social, which can be a more powerful learning experience for students.

Here are ways technology can enhance the learning process for both educators and their students.

Technology for the Educator

Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock


Paper-free organization. Online technology allows educators to keep materials organized, and allows access to video streaming and YouTube. This eliminates the need for making copies, purchasing/ storing DVDs, and minimizes time spent putting materials together for students who have missed class.

Enhances instructor-student communication
. In many classrooms, the outgoing students get their questions answered, leaving introverted students at the wayside. Technology allows professors to communicate via chats and emails with students who might not have reached out otherwise. Teachers can also communicate with students outside of class regarding project updates, text/quiz reminders, etc.

Become a facilitator. As education breaks away from the top-down teaching approach, technology allows educators to be more like facilitators, using technology as a self-directed learning modality for students.

Technology for the Student

Self-paced learning
. When resources, lectures, notes, etc. are available to students online, students have control over their learning process, and can work at their own pace, any time, anywhere.

Increased learning styles. Students have a wider range of visual and auditory learning materials at their disposal, increasing their engagement.

Collaboration. Technology education allows students to collaborate with one another on projects and in study groups.

Labyrinth Learning offers a variety of materials to enhance technology education.

What Makes an Effective PowerPoint Presentation?

Learning to use PowerPoint is the first step to creating an effective presentation. However, if you succumb to common pitfalls, or don’t maximize its potential, you may find your presentations fall flat.

Here are tips to make your PowerPoint presentations as effective as possible.

Source: Labyrinth Learning
Source: Labyrinth Learning
  1. Avoid common pitfalls: Sometimes, the information in the presentation is great, but the slides are lacking because the presenter succumbs to common pitfalls such as:
    • Illegible fonts: It’s exciting to see all the different font styles available. It’s not as exciting if you choose fonts that are difficult to read, or vary them so often they become overwhelming. Choose one or two legible fonts, and stick with them.
    • Crazy colors. Just as differing fonts can confuse the eye, so can clashing colors, or too many colors. Make sure the colors you select increase legibility.
    • Cramming. Don’t cram information on your slides. Slides should highlight key points. You are better off making more slides, so each one has digestible portions of information.
  2. Know your audience. You don’t want to present to the lowest common denominator, but you don’t want to teach above the audience’s ability either. Keep your information aimed at the mid-level.
  3. Graphics and animations. Use graphics and animation features to enhance your slides, but be careful not to overdo it.
  4. Make them interactive. There are multiple features that allow your PowerPoint presentations to be interactive, and more effectively engage audience members.

Learning to use PowerPoint, or taking a refresher course, can bring your office staff up-to-date. Contact Labyrinth Learning for PowerPoint instructional materials.

Advanced Excel Spreadsheet Functions You Need to Know

Every time students or employees take a course on Microsoft Excel 2013, they learn valuable skills that increase their efficiency. Some of these skills are simple, such as copying and transferring formulas from one spreadsheet to another. However, there are more advanced functions that make Excel even more valuable in the workplace.

Creating drop down lists. Using advanced spreadsheet functions, you can create a drop down list. Taking advantage of drop down lists limits the amount of entries that can be entered into a specific cell to a pre-determined list of entries, providing a higher level of quality control. It also saves time on data entry and prevents errors.

Source: Labyrinth Learning
Source: Labyrinth Learning

Conditional cell formatting
. We would wager most regular Excel users don’t know how to take advantage of this feature. Conditional formatting allows users to create specific formatting rules, depending on the information or data contained in the cell. For example, you may want number higher than 1000 to appear in bold, or negative dollar values to appear in red. Cells can have up to three different formatting conditions.

Goal Seek feature. Excel ‘s Goal Seek feature works in the opposite way of formulas. You enter the goal you are trying to attain, whether it be total retirement earnings, or determining what it would take to decrease your total business loan payments, Goal Seek will show you what’s required to get there.

Labyrinth Learning has a wide range of textbooks and learning tools to help your students and employees master introductory and advanced features in Microsoft Excel 2013.

Businesses Seek Tools to Improve Teamwork

As the modern workforce becomes increasingly mobile, businesses across the globe seek tools to improve teamwork and company-wide collaboration. One of the most effective innovations to break down geographic barriers is Microsoft 365. As this article in The Guardian points out, it’s not just the “whenever” and “wherever” that appeals to corporations, but also the “however” factor that matters.

Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

Whether your offices are spread out across the sate, the nation or the globe, Microsoft 365 allows employees who have never met face-to-face to collaborate on projects. Prior to cloud-based technology, this might involve complex time scheduling across differing time zones, multiple copies of the same report or spreadsheet and a ton of wasted paper. Now, with just a little technology education to learn Microsoft 365 employees can collaborate from anywhere, anytime and within the same documents, spreadsheet and presentations.

But, let’s take a step back for a moment. In order to use Microsoft 365 effectively, users need to be proficient at the tools in the Microsoft Suite. This is where Labyrinth Learning comes in. We have developed a wide range of training materials and tools that are specifically designed to keep professionals up-to-date with current MS Office software.

We even offer a FastCourse series, in three different levels, that work in a day or less to get employees up to speed on the newest MS features and changes. Once their skills are honed, they can effectively collaborate with team members across the company spectrum.

Contact us at Labyrinth Learning to learn more about our technology education tools today!


Improve Your Business With FastCourse Learning Series

Microsoft Office has set the standard for desktop publishing. It would be considered rare if a business doesn’t use at least one MS Office program as a part of their day-to-day processes. It’s great when employees have Microsoft certifications, but have you checked the years on those certifications lately?

How can you determine whether or not your employees are on the same page in terms of their MS Office knowledge? Time passes quickly and a failure to keep up with evolving software changes can mean your employees’ skills are lagging.FastCourse Series

Our Labyrinth Learning training materials include a FastCourse series that is just the thing for office-wide training updates. Each FastCourse text is designed for instructor-led courses for one day or less. Teach one or combine them for a multi-day course to keep your employees up to date on the latest Microsoft innovations and software changes.

FastCourse materials are available for Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 currently while the 2013 texts will be released in October covering the following applications:

  • Word
  • Access
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Outlook

Courses are available in three levels — so that you can choose the one that fits your employees’ needs or combine all three to provide complete coverage. All texts include a full set of instructor support materials.

Please contact Labyrinth Learning to learn more about how to strengthen your Microsoft Office training with FastCourse texts.

Social learning

The Power of Social Learning

Social learning

There are some people who can learn with only a book and their own beautiful minds. However, most of us require a little social stimulation to get the juices flowing. This can mean sitting down in study group learning from one another’s ideas, or it can mean participating in an online chat about a particular reading passage or new concept that is giving you trouble.

Here are some technological tools that can help your students participate in social learning activities in a time frame that works for them.

Edmodo. This is like Facebook for the academic world. Your students can learn from one another, sharing ideas or a new great resource, and they can connect with other students from other schools/classes for an expanded view.

Wikispaces. Teachers who use Wikispaces have the ability to store lessons, resources, and provide media links that support a given lesson. Plus the instructor and students can communicate with one another, leave comments and feedback, etc.

OpenStudy. No time to get together for a study group? No problem. Students can use OpenStudy to set up their own groups, or meet other students from all of the country who are studying the same materials.

Looking for a way to promote social learning in your classroom? Contact Labyrinth Learning. Ask about our educator groups and explore our Facebook page to interact with other instructors and contribute to our learning solutions. Plus, our learning management system can provide the collaborative learning platform you have been searching for.