Fully Integrated Solutions Go Beyond the Links White Paper

White Paper
Fully Integrated Solutions
Go Beyond the Links
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White Paper:
At Cengage Learning, we
believe that engagement
is the foundation of
learning. Engagement
is at our core and our
focus is on engaging
with learners, both in the
classroom and beyond,
to ensure the most
effective product design,
learning solutions and
personalized services —
all to help people learn.
We understand that an
engaged learner is a
successful one and we
are leading the transition
to digital with a unique
faculty AND student
perspective to transform
learning through
engagement. Our name
itself reinforces this core
commitment — “engage”
is at the “center” of all
we do.
Fully Integrated Solutions Go Beyond the Links
Digital learning solutions are offering instructors and students more ways to
engage with course content than ever before. With seamless log¬in now a
standard of LMS integration, instructors and administrators are looking for LMS
integration to go farther in helping them achieve their mission of improving
student outcomes. This new frontier of LMS integration is defined by learning
solutions that provide customizable content, automatic grade return and
personalized instructor services — three powerful ways to increase student
engagement and decrease instructor workload.
What do LMS administrators need?
Cengage Learning’s market research team conducted in-depth research with 50
LMS administrators at a large technology conference1 to better understand how
they are integrating course solutions and what they need a “fully integrated”
course solution to accomplish. The administrators represented a diverse range
of institutions using a wide range of LMSs (Figure 1).
While the backgrounds, institutions and platforms of the administrators
interviewed varied, their insights were consistent. Administrators overwhelmingly
said they need to be involved with instructors and learning solutions providers
before the rubber hits the road. Far too frequently administrators are brought
into the process after the adoption decision has been made for a learning
solution platform, which excludes an important voice from the process.
Administrators also struggle with educating departments on the keys to
successful LMS integration. One administrator says, “Faculty who have not had
any training on integrating content into their LMS are now asking us which
provider offers the best integration experience.” Clearly LMS administrators are
feeling overwhelmed by the number of instructors adopting integrated content
solutions and need help educating instructors on LMS integration.
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Fully Integrated Solutions Go Beyond the Links
Figure 1. What LMS is your institution currently using?
The Evolving
National LMS
LMS administrators were asked what features of LMS integration are most
important to them (Figure 3). The results illuminate how certain features —
specifically seamless registration and access and gradebook integration — are
must-haves for any integrated digital learning resource. Having to sign in to
multiple resources is a pain point for both instructors and students, and LMS
administrators believe that single sign-on is required for any true integrated
solution. An integrated gradebook is also essential for an integrated digital
solution to truly reduce instructor workload, as many institutions require course
grades to be reported in an institution’s LMS. While digital learning solutions are
becoming the standard for course materials, administrators who use metrics
as a resource said they need to be able to show the efficacy of digital solutions.
Figure 2. LMS share at higher education institutions with 500+ full time equivalent students
as of spring 2016. Source: www.edutechnica.com.
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Recent data from
Edutechnica shows
that Blackboard Learn
continues to be the
dominant LMS — used
at 32% of U.S. higher
ed institutions and
by 44% of college
students nationwide
(Figure 2). Canvas
takes second place to
Blackboard by student
enrollment (23.3%),
while Moodle holds the
number two spot by
number of institutions
(19.1%). Clearly, LMSs
are here to stay: only
6.9% of the nearly
4,000 institutions
represented do not
use an LMS.
The organization’s fall
2015 update noted that
migrating to a different
solution has become
easier and less costly
in the last five years,
and that more schools
are moving to different
LMS products.
Fully Integrated Solutions Go Beyond the Links
Figure 3. What are the 3 most important features to LMS integration of digital learning
single sign-on
need integrated
digital learning
solutions that
“just work” for
use metrics
and instructor
with integrated
learning solutions
is the crux of LMS
options and
Social media
the student
A common thread throughout the conversations is that administrators want
integrated solutions that instructors can manage on their own with minimal
oversight. The current reality is that LMS administrators feel they are being utilized
by instructors as a help desk when issues with their integrated digital learning
solution arise. One administrator says, “We do not have the resources to go
help each department with all of their learning solution problems.” In addition to
learning solutions that provide the best integration features, administrators and
instructors need a provider that is available to help instructors solve problems.
Because administrators need integrated digital learning solutions that “just
work” for instructors, the student and instructor experience with integrated
learning solutions is the crux of LMS integration. To better understand the needs
of instructors, three current MindTap customers using Cengage Learning’s LMS
integration service were interviewed for this paper — Cindy Forse, a medical
technology instructor at Lord Fairfax Community College; Michelle McCargish,
a history instructor at Western New Mexico University; and LaKeita Carter, a
psychology instructor at the Community College of Baltimore County. These
instructors’ feedback clearly shows that their needs align with those of their LMS
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Fully Integrated Solutions Go Beyond the Links
administrator colleagues. Single sign-on and service top the list of needs for
these instructors. However, the experiences of these instructors show that there
is more to a successful digital learning solution integration than just selecting a
Course Preparation: the Key to Success
Cindy uses MindTap in her Medical Terminology course and believes it is
essential for instructors using MindTap or any other integrated digital learning
solution to work closely with the provider. “The upfront work with a Cengage
Learning digital solutions consultant is the most important thing to do before
launching MindTap in any course,” says Cindy. Cindy’s Cengage Learning service
representative provided her with short instructional videos and documents that
showed students how to set up their devices to use MindTap. “Educating the
students upfront on how to use MindTap effectively was the main reason why
I have had so much success using MindTap in my course,” says Cindy. Cindy
credits her Cengage Learning service representative with helping her set up her
course and train students so they could hit the ground running on day one. “It’s
been amazing,” Cindy says of her service experience with Cengage Learning.
While preparation on course setup is crucial when setting up an integrated
solution, questions will undoubtedly arise throughout the semester that
instructors and students need to quickly resolve. Having a seamlessly integrated
learning solution is not enough — instructors need to also have support
throughout the semester in case problems emerge. Michelle McCargish felt
that digital learning solutions providers must offer this level of service to all
users. “Cengage Learning offered some of the best tech support I have ever
experienced…the support for MindTap as well as the training I received on
setting up my MindTap course was phenomenal. I even received periodic checkins from the digital course support team to make sure I had everything I needed,”
says Michelle.
Cindy and Michelle’s positive experiences are due to the focus Cengage Learning
places on personalized services. Cengage Learning employs 56 Digital Solutions
Coordinators, 50 Implementation and Training Specialists and 80 Technical
Support agents for a total of 186 experienced, highly credentialed professionals
who are dedicated to helping instructors improve their students’ level of
engagement and their outcomes in the classroom. Cengage Learning’s service
professionals are focused on the proactive implementation of digital learning
solutions which includes course setup and customization, answers and advice,
and regular check-ins. This high level of support allows instructors to focus on
instruction and course preparation and minimize the menial tasks associated
with course setup.
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To ensure a
seamless experience
for students,
administrators and
instructors, Cengage
Learning conducts
end-to-end testing
with institutions that
are using four or more
integrated Cengage
Learning solutions.
Cengage Learning’s
Implementation and
Training Specialists
conduct this testing
so administrators can
be confident that they
will not encounter
issues with Cengage
Learning’s digital
learning solutions once
the semester begins.
End-to-end testing is
one more example of
Cengage Learning’s
commitment to White
Glove service.
Fully Integrated Solutions Go Beyond the Links
A Truly Integrated Experience
The deep links within the
LMS means I don’t have
to worry about students
using a separate password
or getting lost going to a
separate Website. Links
containing all of their
assignments are right
there when they log into
their LMS.
Michelle McCargish
History Instructor,
Western New Mexico
Instructors using LMS integration for MindTap have found that its seamless user
experience has exceeded their expectations. “After using other digital learning
solutions, I found [this Cengage Learning integration] to be the only integration
solution that provides a seamless, fully-integrated experience,” says Michelle.
Echoing LMS administrators’ call for a seamless user experience, Michelle
believes that the ability to customize her course by adding links to specific
learning activities offers her students a true integration experience that makes
accessing her course easier. “The deep links within the LMS means I don’t have
to worry about students using a separate password or getting lost going to a
separate Website. Links containing all of their assignments are right there when
they log into their LMS,” says Michelle.
A truly integrated solution should offer benefits to both students and instructors.
Cindy customizes her course by placing the chapters directly into her Blackboard
course so students can go right into their assigned chapters for the week in
their packet. She has found that using Cengage Learning’s integration service
for MindTap has reduced her workload significantly. “With the content and
assignments integrated directly into the weekly LMS packet, students know
exactly what they have to do and where they need to go. The assignment grades
flow directly into my gradebook, which allows me to focus on answering student
questions that come up during the week,” says Cindy. Cengage Learning’s LMS
integration automates menial tasks like grading which allows instructors to
increase their focus on engaging with students.
Tools that Engage
While seamless user experience and service are must-haves for integrated
learning solutions, learning solution tools that engage students is what initially
draws instructors to a digital learning solution. LaKeita Carter worried that the
assignments for her psychology courses at the Community College of Baltimore
County were not doing enough to engage students. She wanted to find a new
digital learning solution that engaged different learning styles. “I immediately
saw that the assignments in MindTap offered a variety of approaches,” says
LaKeita. Michelle had a similar experience, finding that MindTap’s exercises and
assignments were effective at reaching different learning styles and encouraging
critical thinking. Her students appreciated that the chapter assignments were
varied and did not just repeat the same template. Michelle also believes that the
exercises encouraged students to pay more careful attention to their reading
and focus on key concepts.“ For the first time students told me they were reading
the textbook and understanding the concepts better,” says Michelle.
Voice of the Student
A digital learning solution can have all of the integration capabilities and
functionality that instructors and LMS administrators desire, but students must
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Fully Integrated Solutions Go Beyond the Links
find a solution engaging for it to be truly effective. Students must also be able to
easily access and navigate a learning solution as there is nothing more frustrating
for students than not being able to access their assignments when up against
a deadline. Cengage Learning’s LMS integration ensures that students’ reading
and assignments live alongside instructor content in a course’s LMS. Michelle
noticed how easily her students were able to navigate the MindTap interface.
“The learning path is a significant benefit to students. It helps guide the students
through the material as well as point them toward flash cards and other content
and exercises that help when they are struggling with the assignments,” says
Michelle. Having an interface that feels familiar to students will go a long way
in engaging them. LaKeita informally polled the top students in her class to find
out what they thought about MindTap. “They told me it felt very ‘app-y’ – like the
apps on their phones,” she says.
Fully integrated learning solutions may sound like a simple concept, but there
are several key pieces to a successful integration experience:
SEAMLESS USER EXPERIENCE: Solutions that can be accessed seamlessly
through a course LMS are becoming the standard for digital learning solutions.
Instructors want a “one stop shop” — a single access point for students.
that allow instructors to place its content and assignments alongside their own
content in a course’s LMS is an essential piece to a fully integrated solution.
This allows instructors to focus on the materials that matter most.
AUTOMATIC GRADE RETURN: Selecting a digital learning solution that is
synchronized with the course LMS gradebook will go a long way in saving
instructors time and effort.
Students must also
be able to easily
access and navigate
a learning solution
as there is nothing
more frustrating for
students than not
being able to access
their assignments
when up against a
deadline. Cengage
Learning’s LMS
integration ensures
that students’ reading
and assignments live
alongside instructor
content in a
course’s LMS.
PERSONALIZED INSTRUCTOR SERVICES: All three of the instructors
interviewed cited course preparation as the reason why they have had such
a successful integration experience with MindTap. Having a learning solution
provider that works alongside the instructor to prep the course, provide
training, and troubleshoot any potential issues will ensure that instructors and
students can hit the ground running on the first day of class.
COLLABORATION: Select a learning solutions provider that will work in
harmony with both LMS administrators and instructors. An effective learning
solutions provider will be able to speak the language of both administrators
and instructors and understand the specific needs of an institution.
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT: A digital learning solution will not be successful if
it does not effectively engage students. Selecting a digital learning solution
that addresses different learning styles — as well as a user-experience that is
familiar to students — is essential to student success.
2013 EDUCAUSE Conference
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Cengage Learning is a leading provider of innovative
teaching, learning, and research solutions for academic,
professional, and library markets worldwide. The
company’s products and services are designed to foster
academic excellence and professional development,
increase engagement, improve learning outcomes, and
deliver authoritative information to people whenever
and wherever they need it. Through the company’s
unique position within both the library and academic
markets, Cengage Learning is providing integrated
learning solutions that bridge from the library to the
Source Code: 15M-AA0027
ISBN: 978-1-285-96502-4
classroom. www.cengage.com
Copyright ©2015 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.