Katherine T. McClain is a big believer in frequent homework and practice problems to teach her 900 students about economics.
As a result, she needed a technology solution to support her teaching style and manage all of her students simultaneously.
That solution was MyEconLab by Pearson.
“In the economics department at the University of Georgia, we do not have a mandated adoption or a common adoption,” says McClain, a senior lecturer in the department of economics at the University of Georgia. “I’m a very strong believer in frequent homework and practice problems and needed some way to get feedback to 900 students that I clearly couldn’t get to them – that’s what really drove my decision to adopt an online homework platform.”
John Tweeddale, the senior vice president of Efficacy & Quality at Pearson, says MyEconLab is centered around creating a learning experience for students guided by the instructor around a course’s outcomes and objectives.
It also provides students with the support they need in terms of practicing, understanding key concepts and applying them in a certain course.
“I’ve had success with MyEconLab in my huge classes that I use it in my small classes now, too.”
Katherine McClain, a senior lecturer in the department of economics at the University of Georgia
“If you look through Dr. McClain’s study, the problems that students are able to practice and the types of solutions that [are geared] around additional support guide students through understanding how to apply a problem,” Tweeddale says. “It gives students extra support through their homework experience, and also gives them more immediate feedback.”
Through MyEconLab’s immediate feedback feature, students have a sense of whether or not they understand what they are learning, or if they need extra help from the instructor.
In order to use MyEconLab, students need access to a computer or tablet. From there, students follow their instructors’ guidelines.
“If students are in my 10 a.m. class, I will set up a section in MyEconLab for that class,” McClain says. “They purchase access to it, and they log into it. Inside of that class, I can do a whole spectrum of activities: I can post documents for them; if there’s an article I want them to read, I can post it there; I can put Dropboxes in, if I want them to send me something…I can even create online homework.”
McClain says she also uses the solution to contact students that may have failed a test to offer them extra assistance, or to check in on how a class is performing in general.
“They’re scored by the system, I don’t have to grade them or create an answer key,” she says. “The students know right away when they got something right or wrong. In my homework, I set it up so they can do it again, because I want them to keep practicing until they learn a concept.”
Aside from helping her better manage her hundreds of students, MyEconLab helps McClain’s students absorb more economics through experiential learning.
“They get this repeated practice, they get this experiential learning, they get to go back over and over again,” McClain says. “It’s no question they’re learning economics because they’re engaging with it on a weekly basis. They are having to read a question and provide an answer, not just look at something I’ve written.”
Tips To Managing Your Online Learning Platform
1) Start “using this stuff”
For instructors who are strapped in a situation similar to McClain’s, they should think about using a solution like MyEconLab.
McClain says solutions like MyEconLab help instructors incentivize students to learn without appearing to be too “helicopter-ish,” and get students thinking like future employees.
“I can communicate with my students, send them documents, they can send me documents, they can read the etext, there’s online help, there’s news, videos, etc.,” she says. “It …gives students the ability to problem-solve on their own. That’s important because someday, they’re going to have a boss that says, “get this done,” and if we don’t teach them how to problem solve on their own, they’re not going to be a very successful employee.”
2) Identify challenges
Before investing in a solution like MyEconLab, Tweeddale recommends that colleges identify the learning problems they’re trying to solve.
The sooner colleges start asking questions and tracking down answers, the easier it will be to find the best-fitting technology.
“One of the questions we ask from the start is, “what are you hoping to achieve through the use of a learning technology?”” Tweeddale says. “If you can start understanding that, it helps understand the best model and implementation, the critical milestones in the course, and what data and evidence will help understand how well we’re achieving and addressing them.”
3) Remember – there’s a learning curve
McClain says once a college invests in a solution like MyEconLab, instructors should take it slow.
She says instructors will need more than one semester working with the tool to solve all of their challenges.
“The first semester you use it is not going to be your best semester because you’re learning all new things,” McClain says. “It’s a powerful tool to learn, and you have to still be a little bit flexible to make it work best for you, and not be afraid to try new stuff and change stuff… If you do those things, you’ll be surprised how remarkably powerful it is.”