Messy Roommate Troubles? Get Your Place Spotless by Getting Smart (And Use SmartBook!)

Get your messy roommate to clean up his act with some quick thinking and savvy strategies.
Too smart for an ebook? Don’t just work hard—work smart with SmartBook.

Watch this hilarious video:
The Connect Team

By The Connect Team  |  April 06 2014
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Breaking Up Isn’t Hard to Do—When You’re Smart (Use SmartBook!)

Is it time to call it quits on your relationship? Don’t get stressed; get smart!
SmartBook (the smart student’s alternative to an ebook) helps you to not just work hard, but to work smart!

Watch this hilarious video:

The Connect Team

By The Connect Team  |  April 06 2014
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In Praise of Small Data

   Brian Kibby, President, MHHE
Brian Kibby

I hate buzz words.

For some time, I’ve been saying that “Big Data” is the most misused term in education. For all the chest-pounding on how Big Data has come to education, what offers have we really seen in the marketplace? What can instructors actually use? And, how is it impacting teaching and learning at scale—right now, in 2014?

On September 6, 2013, I called a company-wide town hall meeting and put a stake in the ground: “We are going to be the first major Learning Company to offer our customers a data and analytics package they can understand and use to improve student performance and we’re going to do it by January 2014!”

It takes real conviction, serious brain power, and a great deal of hard work to meet a challenge like this, and I’m proud to say that the McGraw-Hill Education team was up to the task: Connect Insight launched January 2, 2014.

We created Connect Insight by thinking not about big data, but about small, usable information. We are already intimately involved with the teaching and learning experiences of thousands of instructors and millions of students around the world—by using that fact to our advantage, we realized we could create something no one else could, sooner than anyone thought: a way for instructors to look at the performance of their students and their own assignments (right now! In 2014!) and make data-driven decisions on how to improve and optimize performance. In other words, we created Small Data.

“Intuitive” and “actionable” are the two values at the heart of Connect Insight. Prior to its launch, Stephen Laster, our chief digital officer, and I often talked about the need to focus on simplicity and create products that are elegant and easy to use. Sure, the underlying technology and analysis may be complicated, but for this tool to truly make an impact, it has to be intuitive enough for everyone to be able to use and benefit from. With Connect Insight, we hit the mark.

When developing Connect Insight, we obsessed over finding ways to deliver insights that instructors could actually use to power success in their courses. As Richard Keaveny, one of our digital product leaders often says, “Data is cool, but analysis is powerful.” To that, I would add: “Action is transformative.” With Connect Insight, we transformed the role of data in education by providing educators with information sufficiently small enough to act upon.

The future of data in education is enormously bright—and admittedly big. That is, if we think small: neat, visual, actionable and available.

Brian Kibby
President, McGraw-Hill Higher Education


By mayacohen  |  April 02 2014

How to Keep Your Class Successful and Motivated: Use Connect Insight to Decode Student Behavior

Big Data is a term that is commonly used to acknowledge that there is a great deal of information being gathered on each of us everyday. There is a massive amount of structured and unstructured data on all of us—what we buy, where we eat, whom we email or call. This is also true in education where attendance information, test scores and activity data are gathered constantly.

Big Data is not new in education. What is new about Big Data in education are the tools being used to collect it, the type of data being collected and the processes being developed to use that data to help educators teach and students learn.

Twenty-five years ago kilobytes (kb) of attendance records and exam scores were stored on floppy disks and merged into Big Data stores on monochrome screens. Since the advent of the Learning Management Systems (LMS) and other electronic gradebooks educators and school systems have had even more significant amounts of Big Data.

A few months ago we released Connect Insight. Connect Insight is a first step on a journey to predictive modeling and ultimately to being able to provide an optimized experience with precise personalized recommendations and interventions.

At McGraw-Hill Education, we hope to contribute to making a difference in people’s lives by using data for good through the work that our data scientists and engineers are doing in collaboration with educators and students. Driving us is the promise to use data, big and small, to help people teach and learn. We are building our systems on open standards and see our work as part of the larger science of data research and analytics. We also see the work that we are doing as part of an ecosystem—we give and we receive from a community of educators and students. In the coming months we look forward to making more of the research we are doing available in order to find more collaborators who want to work on the same problems we are working on. We hope to hear from you.

Richard Keaveny
VP, Digital Product Development at McGraw-Hill Higher Education

The Connect Team

By The Connect Team  |  March 25 2014

Connect Insight First Look with Instructor Kathrine Glass

Q: As an instructor, what do analytics mean to you?
A: The most basic analytic has always been grades. However, this information is one-dimensional and doesn’t help me to interpret what is going on with a student, an assignment or the course as a whole. As I’ve used more technology, I’ve been able to collect and use more data than just the grade. The analysis that is available through Connect and LearnSmart has allowed me to dig into what has made an assignment successful and where students are having difficulty with content. The “at-risk” report has been very valuable in identifying students who are not engaged and may need some type of remediation beyond just the content.

All in all, analytics help me evaluate not only my class and student performance, but also my own performance. Analytics help me to move forward in the most positive way for my students.

Q: What outcomes (expected or unexpected) have you experienced as a result of using analytics?
A: I love what analytics has to tell me about my students and myself; it’s not just my intuition or best guess any more on what works and what doesn’t. The information that I receive through Connect has helped me pinpoint the good, the bad and the ugly in my assignments. I want to know that I’m driving behavior in my students that will help them be successful, so I’ve been able to identify tactics that work and build upon those.

At the student level, the reports that are available through both the Connect and LearnSmart platforms are pulling back the veil on student performance. Having the information about what a student is doing in the system and the results they are achieving begins to paint a picture that allows me to engage them in the right kind of conversation. There is a very big difference between a student who is trying and not succeeding, and a student who is failing because they are not tuned in. Analytics inform the conversation so that it will be the right one, because students are also interested in “what works.” With this information I pass on best practices to my students and they benefit in their own workflow.

The most unexpected result of analytics has been the way it’s allowed for a human connection. The “at-risk” report gives me a peek as to what is happening outside of class, in a way that was not possible before. I reach out to “at-risk” students and most often find that they are experiencing a personal crisis, which is interfering with their schoolwork. I would like to think that I can make a difference to these students by talking with and helping them to find the right resources. In the educational system it’s too easy for students to feel that they are just a number. In the cases of my at-risk students, the “number” makes them anything but – thank you analytics.

Q: Based on what you’ve seen, why is Connect Insight so exciting?
A: I couldn’t be more excited about Connect Insight. Data can tell you an important story; Connect Insight tells the story with sophisticated analysis that is understandable and actionable. Whatever level of understanding I need to have in a particular moment is available to me, which is key since there are some things that I need to know quickly and others that I want time to drill down and fully understand in a more directed way. With the ease of navigation, I am able to explore in whatever depth I need. The visualized data is ready – no gathering or organizing required – for me to interpret and act on.

Connect Insight gives me information that is useful on both a student and an assignment level, as my students need the most productive feedback I can give them. Connect Insight shows specific information about their performance and workflow that helps me to identify opportunities on a more individual level. I use this assignment information to judge how well the class is moving forward and how well the assignment met my expectations.

Q: How will Connect Insight benefit you versus the analytics you already have access to?
A: The combination of performance and time measures is an essential piece of data for me; the fact that I can look at these analytics on a global or individual level allows me to make the right decision for the question at hand. Course and assignment design are very important in delivering the education that my students expect and that I desire. Having focused analytics provides a value in design that I haven’t had access to before.

On a student level, I will be able to use this information to move even further towards a “just in time” delivery of information. Too often in the past I have patiently explained a concept only to find out that it was not where the student was truly having the difficulty. When you can see a student’s information mapped out, it has a relevance that just isn’t available in other formats. Having data alone doesn’t make it valuable to me, but Connect Insight provides data in a way that is efficient and effective for me.

Q: How will you benefit by having fast access to analytics on your tablet (e.g. iPad, Kindle, etc…) and not having to log into Connect?
A: Over the past year, I have moved to a “flipped” classroom model. Connect and LearnSmart have made this transition possible and we now use technology in every class. The “flipped” class has brought with it many benefits, but also many demands. In a class of forty or fifty students, I am trying to identify how the class is moving forward as a whole, by recognizing which students are ready to move on and which students are having difficulty. I’m looking for those teachable moments that a “flipped” class can really leverage for both individuals and the room as a whole. The better I can meet the needs of students, the more engaged they are; the educational benefit is huge, it’s just that simple. Connect Insight on my tablet will meet these needs for me in a fast, clear and actionable way. Connect Insight will deliver “just in time” for me so I can deliver “just in time” for them.

Kathrine Glass
Senior Lecturer of Accounting
Department of Accounting


By Eileen  |  February 03 2014

Required Equals Results: Gina Szablewski, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

“You will save time, learn more about your students and increase participation and engagement.”

What impact did requiring digital have on your students’ success?
I certainly have more A’s and B’s in class (taken from the C grades). I also believe there is an increase in retention, participation and engagement. They like using the digital products.

Which digital tools do you use in your class?
I use Connect, Tegrity and Learnsmart.

When did you begin using digital tools in your classes and what did it replace, if anything?
I began using digital tools in 2010. They replaced some work done on Desire2Learn.

When did you decide to require them as part of the course grade?
As soon as I integrated the digital tools they were part of the course grade.

What percentage of your course grade is made up by digital tools like Connect and LearnSmart?
Physical geology is made up of 12% Connect quizzes and 12% LearnSmart. For Environmental Geology, each Connect quiz is worth 5% (LearnSmart not currently available).

Why is it important to require digital rather than make it optional?
If it is optional, only the motivated students will use it and it is the unmotivated students that really need the help associated with the digital products.

What advice do you have for instructors who are incorporating digital into their courses for the first time?
Go for it. It is easier than you think. You will save time, learn more about your students and increase participation and engagement in the materials presented.

What are you able to do now that you couldn’t before you required digital?
I’m able to assess the progress of individual students and the class as a whole on a weekly basis.

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

The Connect Team

By The Connect Team  |  December 09 2013

The Connect Team

The Connect Team