Friday, October 7, 2011

McGraw-Hill Online Materials

Today our McGraw-Hill (MH) rep Amanda came to talk to us about their online instructional materials. They recently made some changes including an integrated D2L/MH logon and no requirement to use MH texts.

First, they have a few different services to distinguish between:
  • MH Campus is a repository of free instructional materials such as tutorials (aka animations), PowerPoints, and test banks. They can only be linked to in D2L if we have the D2L integration complete.
  • MH Connect is an interactive platform where students can complete activities and assessments. A really cool aspect is that quiz feedback can link to the area in the text where the concept was discussed for instant remediation (details were a bit fuzzy though). In early 2012, they will roll out D2L gradebook integration - the bugs should be worked out by fall 2012. Connect has a cost of $10-45 per student, per course. Sciences are more expensive.
  • MH Create is a way for faculty to basically make their own textbook by choosing chapters out of one or more textbooks and even including their own content. It can be a black and white, color, or e-book. The cost accumulates at the bottom of the screen while material is added. How this works with a text rental campus is a little fuzzy. 
  • Tegrity: MH acquired the lecture capture technology Tegrity and offers it through Connect. There is an additional cost to use Tegrity, separate from Connect. From what I know, Tegrity is a straight forward lecture capture option without editing capabilities. An advantage is that it is searchable, meaning it can find words spoken in the lecture. I wonder if this means it can produce good captions like the youtube transcription feature? Regardless, I'm not excited about Tegrity since there are so many free screencasting programs available and we are doing a Camtasia pilot. I talked with a faculty member about this a few months ago who was concerned about whether it was possible to download the captured lectures to save for later or view outside of Connect.
Right now accessibility is an issue since not everything is captioned and content is primarily in Flash which is not screen reader or iOS friendly. Amanda said that by the end of 2012, everything should be accessible and in HTML5. 

How we actually get D2L and MH to integrate is unclear right now so we need to contact the right person to figure out if/how to make that happen. The biggest unknown I see is whether the content available in MH Campus is going to be helpful to faculty. I'm sure it will vary by discipline and personal preferences, but it could be a good option for some. The search function seemed to leave something to be desired, so that is a bit of a concern too. It's hard to tell a lot without being able to actually try it, but from my perspective it's worth continuing to look into. I don't think there needs to be a big rush since MH is still working out some of the bugs. However, it could take a while to get the D2L integration worked out so trying to make progress on that front for a pilot in spring or fall of 2012 would be great.

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