Required Equals Results: Cameron Harmon, Fayetteville Technical Community College



“Requiring digital tools is a must. If the tools are only optional, students won’t take advantage of them. When you assign a grade for them, the students are forced to do the work and slowly they will begin to see how helpful the digital tools really are.”


What impact did requiring digital have on your students’ success?
Initially, students were a bit hesitant because it was something totally different, but once they started using the tools they really liked them. Most of my responses from students have been on how much they love LearnSmart, and how fun and easy it is to use. And I can tell a difference in the students that do these assignments – on average, their test grades are usually 10 points higher than the others who don’t do the modules. It has also helped me during office hours. Instead of spending 15 minutes trying to figure out where their problem is, I can pull up the LearnSmart report and see exactly where they’ve been struggling. It’s fantastic to have that type of data readily at hand. Also, it has really helped with my students’ view of the class. They know that I’m checking on them and can see their progress, so they are more motivated to complete the assignments.


Which digital tools do you use in your class?
I use Connect Plus, and I have my students use the eBook, LearnSmart and Tegrity.


When did you begin using digital tools in your classes and what did it replace, if anything?
I began using digital tools in my online classes in 2011. Initially, they didn’t replace any assignments, but as I’ve become more familiar and comfortable with the digital tools, I’ve begun to use more of the Connect assignments. I now use their test banks for my exam questions, LearnSmart questions for prep and exam review, and Tegrity to post lectures and proctor exams in my online classes.


When did you decide to require them as part of the course grade?
I know that students don’t do anything for free, so from the very beginning a point value as been assigned.


What percentage of your course grade is made up by digital tools like Connect and LearnSmart?
LearnSmart makes up 10% of the students’ grades, and the other Connect portions can range anywhere from 5-15%.


Why is it important to require digital rather than make it optional?
Requiring digital tools is a must. If the digital tools are only optional, students won’t take advantage of them. Most students won’t do extra work for no credit. So by assigning a grade for the digital component, the students are now forced to do the work and slowly they will begin to see how helpful the digital tools really are for them.


What advice do you have for instructors who are incorporating digital into their courses for the first time?
The first thing I would say is don’t be overwhelmed. Connect has so many cool features that you may feel like you have to do everything and be an expert on digital. You don’t! Connect is super easy to use. I would suggest starting with one thing – LearnSmart. And make sure you make it a graded component. Then take advantage of all the help videos and tutorials so that you can assist your students with getting started.


What are you able to do now that you couldn’t before you required digital?
I think the best thing that has happened since incorporating digital tools is that I actually have more time. It does require time to get started in the beginning, but once you do, you’ll have more time to actually interact with students since so much is handled by Connect. And now I can have data on my students with the click of a button – data that can be broken down by any measure I would like. It is fantastic!


Check out the full Required Equals Results series to hear from other instructors about their experiences.

The Connect Team

By The Connect Team  |  September 06 2013

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