While many institutions are increasingly embracing an interactive approach to education to pave the way for this shift, shrinking education budgets, high student debt, and changing student demands throw a wrench in the works. It is this problem that Macmillan has sought to find a fix for; by placing technology at the convergence of these issues, Macmillan enables and partners with institutions to drive student success through bespoke learning solutions that boost learner engagement.
Affordable learning alternatives, such as eBooks that cost up to 50 percent less than the printed book; looseleaf—a printed, unbound version of textbooks; textbook rentals; Sapling Learning, an online homework solution; and FlipIt, which gives students access to resources before classroom sessions, are some of the solutions that Macmillan offers. Through these products, the company aims to reduce institutional overhead costs, boost affordability of study materials, and enhance efficient delivery, all of which lead to student achievement.
The Pursuit of Learning
In order to identify effective learning objects, Macmillan has introduced a machine learning technique that indexes the millions of learning content that are in use at an institution and performs real-time analytics on student usage. The analysis helps Macmillan to gather insights across institutions and to enable the faculty and administrators find and evaluate the best, most affordable digital content for each learner.
Michaels says that several researchers have identified “class size” to be a major factor that impacts student achievement.
We are learning so much about student behavior—how students learn, what topics resonate, and how much time is being spent on tasks. This data and the resulting insights infuse how we build each of our solutions
The company facilitates the use of an in-class audience-polling technology, iClicker, to increase student engagement and enhance feedback exchange between the instructor and the learner. This strategy is strongly recommended for large lecture environments as it helps instructors gauge levels of student understanding and ensure that no student is left behind.
To further stimulate the pursuit of learning, Macmillan has developed Sapling, an online homework system that provides curated homework assignments for students and enables them in learning the concepts in an interactive fashion. “Digital tools like Sapling enable professors to customize the homework for each student and simultaneously keep everyone challenged with more engaging content,” says Michaels. Most importantly, instructors can work hand-in-hand with discipline experts to create the content for course assignments.
The Future of Higher Education
Macmillan Learning has been successful in bringing the three stakeholders—students, faculty, and administrators—together in the education equation. The future of higher education is likely to be nurtured by both incremental changes and a drastic rethinking of the institutional model. Having positioned Macmillan Learning at the convergence point of technology and innovation, Michaels aspires to invest directly in reengineering the entire paradigm of education through more engaging courses directed at helping each learner achieve their fullest potential, in a process he calls “Learning Engineering.”