Letter to the Editor: “Thank you, McGraw-Hill Connect”

Dakota Bayer, Letter Author

You would be hard-pressed to find a student who claims they learn more from doing practice problems in the back of a textbook rather than working from McGraw-Hill Connect or other online class services.

I’ve noticed this throughout the four semesters of math I’ve taken using Pearson’s MyLabsPlus and Cengage’s WebAssign. This semester, I’ve found McGraw-Hill Connect also helpful in a financial accounting class. Although these required class services may seem of concern to only students at Oshkosh, it should concern anyone who cares about the advancements in knowledge.

My experience with these services has shown me the benefits of video lectures, answering in a digital format and the extensive study resources. Taking the time to understand these programs will allow you to take full advantage of them and maximize your learning potential.

Not only do these services allow us to forgo the physical textbook altogether (if we choose), but learning the material in a digital format has been extremely beneficial. The video lectures are cleanly produced and edited to make learning the new information a much smoother process than before. Of course, you can rewind too if something didn’t make sense.

Hearing another human, other than the professor, explain the information has proved invaluable. When something isn’t explained quite understandably in class, these videos have been my savior.
Similarly, providing answers in a digital format has also proven useful. It allows you to check your work and get immediate feedback if you took the wrong steps. No more having to wait for office hours or the next class period to get feedback. I’d like to think I’m patient enough to wait for office hours for feedback, but the reality is that I want help ASAP to get the task done.
The digital format doesn’t necessarily take away the interaction with an instructor either. I have emailed my questions to the professor and have always gotten timely responses.

In McGraw-Hill Connect, there is even a feature to “Ask My Instructor” in which the professor gets a message from the student requesting help and the professor can then access the students online workbook to see where they might’ve gone wrong.

Many students would probably object that these online class services are not user-friendly enough when entering answers. On the one hand, I agree with the students that these programs aren’t going to be entirely intuitive; after all, it’s a change from writing on paper. But on the other hand, I still insist that these programs are learnable from reading the instructions clearly.

Taking five minutes to read the electronic graphing instructions to answer an algebra question properly is worth more than the frustrations of using up your three chances to get the question right. There hasn’t been a time yet I’ve been unable to learn the program even with reading instructions carefully.

Additionally, the naysayers often take for granted that these online class services have extensive studying resources. Extra homework problems, practice quizzes, practice tests — you name it, and these programs likely have it. McGraw-Hill Connect can even tailor its practice problems to your needs based on which questions you previously have gotten wrong. Surely, we are getting a better educational experience for it.

You can’t argue that these online class services have made you a worse student. Between the vital video lectures, digital answer assistance and other studying supplies, these programs are superior to traditional learning environments. They have been met with troubles, mostly the user-friendliness, but once you learn the program well enough, you are ready to learn more efficiently than ever before.

Rather than rejecting this new way of learning, embrace it. You will be much happier you did.