Editorial by Ron Dunn, President and CEO, Cengage Learning
With the proliferation of technology, social media and new work-life demands on students, the higher education learning environment has changed dramatically in recent years. Instructors are often asked to do more with less resources and have little time to search for the best sources of timely, reliable information to enhance their course materials. Students, strapped for time and prizing convenience, often turn to popular but unvetted online sites for their research, even though the information they find is not always accurate or verified.
Learning solutions that blend authoritative reference material with high quality course content and sound pedagogy can help meet these challenges head on and deliver what students and instructors want and need: good content, customized course material, and flexible, effective learning solutions.
The Watch products from Cengage Learning are examples of a solution that brings quality content from the library to the classroom -– in intuitive, easy-to-use formats. For a given subject, say economics, The Watch includes a blog of breaking news, analysis and commentary, a database of relevant and vetted journal, newspaper and periodical articles, videos and podcasts (updated four times daily), teaching and study resources, and forums for sharing ideas. Incorporating and delivering timely, accurate news and information in specific course areas enables instructors to leverage teachable moments to better engage students in the classroom. Cengage Learning now offers Global Economics Watch, Global Environmental Watch, Global Health Watch and Global Geoscience Watch.
In addition to up-to-the minute news, students and instructors are seeking greater customization in their course content. CourseReader draws on Cengage Learning’s Gale databases including historical documents, current journal articles, photographs and videos. The product offers instructors the ability to choose from thousands of articles and historical documents, including both primary and secondary sources, specific to their discipline. While CourseReader databases are created for specific disciplines and course areas, instructors can choose to add selections from different disciplines to take advantage of the vast collection of materials in the larger database. Students benefit from banks of materials and resources that complement their courses and enrich the learning process.
For on-the-go students who demand greater flexibility, mobile apps can make it easy to share and access reliable information. The AccessMyLibrary College Edition mobile app, for example, enables students to learn about people, places and events using online references from magazines, journals and newspapers. If students need information on Mark Twain, for example, they can use the free app to find accurate information from their library. It used to be a problem if multiple students had the same assignment due on the same day, but now by using this type of app, many students can view the same reference book or resource at the same time. It also makes research accessible to students in the way they prefer to learn, taking advantage of the latest technology.
In addition to providing robust learning and research tools, it is also important to offer ongoing guidance, support and training on how to effectively use them. A recent Cengage Learning / Eduventures study underscores this need. According to the survey, 65% of instructors think students are tech savvy when it comes to using digital tools in the classroom. Conversely, only 42% of students believe there is enough support for educational technology, evidence of a perception gap between how adept students actually are and how capable they are presumed to be. To support the use of educational technology, Cengage Learning has created CourseCare, a customizable service and training program that prepares instructors to use technology in their courses -– from the first day through the final exam.
In this evolving educational landscape, it is essential that we create learning solutions that are as efficient and effective as possible. By bringing the resources of the library into the classroom we can provide instructors and students with authoritative, customizable, and mobile solutions on today’s most important and time-sensitive topics. Textbooks, their digital counterparts, and library research solutions all play a vital role in enhancing students’ engagement in their courses and helping to improve learning outcomes.