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Benefits and Insights

Why use MindTap?

Key differentiators & advantages of MindTap

  • More Confident Students: The solution’s digital tools allow learners to gain competence. Instructors can personalize materials and deliver feedback to better reach people by highlighting text and annotation. With its smartphone accessibility and the ability to identify at-risk pupils, it can enable better completion rates and greater security.
  • Saves Time: With resources all in one place, it’s easy to access. Automated grading processes cut down on the manual input of data so teachers have more time. Last, the product integrates with other tech making for a continuous and smooth process.
  • High-Quality Content: Users can find and share interactive textbooks and other information through the platform. For corporate applications, it can create a resource library for employees so people can peruse information at their leisure.
  • Greater Engagement: Its access to good coursework increases students’ motivation to learn and boosts engagement. Interactive annotation elements make the lines of communication between trainer and trainee much smoother. A function called StudyHub can follow notes, bookmarks and selected text. Students can also create their own study guides.

Industry Expertise

In 2020, MindTap was a finalist in the 2020 SIIA CODiE Awards along with other Cengage products. Nominees included MindTap for Biology, MindTap Collections for Microsoft Office 365 & Office 2019, Our World, 2nd Edition Online Practice Platform and MindTap for Technology for Success. In 2020, MindTap was a finalist in the 2020 SIIA CODiE Awards along with other Cengage products. Nominees included MindTap for Biology, MindTap Collections for Microsoft Office 365 & Office 2019 and MindTap for Technology for Success. It ultimately won two awards for MindTap for Biology and Our World, 2nd Edition Online Practice Platform.

Legal Controversy

The platform came under fire in 2019, when fired economics Arizona State University professor Brian Goegen claimed his department used MindTap unethically. According to the AZFamily in the article, “ASU students call for investigation into professor's claims of corruption,” students complained about the $100 usage fee and said they mainly used it for submitting homework. Goegen also claimed department policy forced him to fail at least 30% of his class. ASU officials denied these claims and said they fired Goegen for “multiple shortcomings,” according to the Inside Higher Ed article, “Forced to Fail Students?”

Former justice Ruth McGregor investigated the claims and found no proof of wrongdoing. This was reported in The Arizona Republic article, “Former Arizona chief justice clears ASU after professor alleged wrongdoing in economics courses.” She found no evidence for the alleged 30% forced failure rate and a claim that Cengage had given the university a grant to use the product.

Cengage has faced at least two class-action lawsuits from writers for violating their author agreements with the company’s digital processes. It settled one lawsuit in 2018. The second, filed in the Southern District of New York, had authors claim the company is not paying proper royalties for sales made on Cengage Unlimited and MindTap according to, “Cengage Faces New Class Action Suit From Authors,” from Publisher’s Weekly. The case is still in court as of May 2020.

In a third lawsuit, four companies that represent independent bookstores are accusing publishers of trying to run them out of business. Cengage is on the list along with Barnes & Noble Education, Follett, McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson according to Insider Higher Ed’s, “A Legal Challenge for Inclusive Access.”

Key Features

  • Course Management: Besides grading and curating content, the software facilitates online discussions and lets instructors walk everyone through sample assignments. It has quizzes, assessments and interactive homework. The dashboard allows people to see current and upcoming homework and shows how individuals are progressing. Editing tools enable cloning courses, adding in their own information, copy and change dates so they can repeat units for different classes.
  • Learning Path: It can create a path by selecting material to customize a course. Add or delete material when needed and move activities around for personalized experiences. To increase motivation, it encourages pupils to track their own progress and reach out to trainers.
  • Mobile: The smartphone app includes an ebook that works on or off the internet. It comes with interactive elements to keep people engaged. For instructors, it has attendance with geolocation and polls to ensure they are truly present and paying attention. There are other tools like online flashcards, practice quizzes and alerts for homework and due dates.
  • Suggested Content: It can customize information for specific students to increase engagement with education guides. These guides have suggested videos and assignments reinforce learning and get offered by class or by chapter.
  • Inclusiveness: The platform provides a business model to institutions that are designed to be more affordable. It helps create a master agreement between leadership and bookstores and partners with other third-party providers including Barnes & Noble, Follette, RedShelf, Verba and VitalSource. Once administrators choose materials, it bills students a one time fee, verifies their enrollment and grants them digital access. For those with different needs, users can get one-day access to specific coursework like ebooks, career resources and more.
  • eReader: It can make annotations and notes in the online textbook. Teachers can identify at-risk pupils and suggest help for trouble areas. The solution can also embed videos into the reader, share highlighted notes and emphasize key text so everyone knows what to focus on for testing. For review, it creates custom flashcards and access guides. There’s also a text speaker that reads aloud.
  • Integrations: It integrates with more full-service LMS products like Blackboard, Brightspace, Canvas, Moodle and others. It integrates with other Cengage platforms such as SAM, WebAssign and Cengage Unlimited. Individuals can use their LMS login to access their material and some major products auto-sync grades so instructors don’t have to duplicate work. It integrates any program with IMS Basic LTI standards though it has built additional functionality for more common products.
  • Reporting: For those who want to dig deep and understand where students are failing or succeeding, it has real-time analytics with 12 different metrics and actionable insights.
  • Subjects: The content, software and textbooks that cover a variety of topics like agriculture, anthropology, art, astronomy, biology, college skills, communications, counseling, early childhood education, film, history, humanities, human services, mass communication, music, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, social sciences, theatre, world languages and many more.
  • Corporate Training: The tools in this software can train employees and standardize training across an association.
  • Aplia: An app within the platform has interactive assignments to help connect concepts to real-world situations. It helps elevate critical thinking with feedback, algorithmic questions, review problems and other elements.
  • Pathbrite Portfolio: The ePortfolio app showcases their work through videos, images, documents and other assets to show skills.
  • Cengage Unlimited: Cengage has several learning solutions aimed at specific subjects. Users can sign up for Cengage Unlimited to get access to all software. This includes:
    • CengageNOWv2 It’s designed for accounting, business statistics and taxation. It helps learners to complete assignments, study for exams and succeed academically. The application offers practice opportunities to help individuals master content.
    • OWLv2: This system is specifically for chemistry classes. It allows for finishing assignments, studying for exams and has other tools to help with success.
    • SAM: It’s an online learning environment made by Cengage that teaches Microsoft Office and computer concepts. People can practice and apply the skills so they’re prepared to operate in the Microsoft Office environment. Assignments are auto-graded and it has flexible reporting.
    • WebAssign: This covers STEM technology. Acquired in 2016, it has former educators on its development support teams to ensure the pedagogy of the experience.
    • Discontinued Programs: The iLrn, eSAM and iLrn Advance products can no longer be purchased by students. However, the coursework for iLrn, eSAM, and iLrn Advance is available until December 31, 2020. After this time, access is unavailable.

Limitations

At the time of this review’s publication, these are the limitations of MindTap, based on user feedback:
  • It only has limited course management capabilities though it integrates with other authoring and management software
  • Many authors dislike this platform and its business practices have given it a bad reputation in the publishing world and involved at least two class-action lawsuits
  • Some say the UI is hard to use and buggy
  • It’s a smaller solution that may not have the robust capabilities needed by big institutions
  • The phone support for billing is extremely limited and only available at odd hours, sometimes very late by EST standards

MindTap Suite Support

Students and instructors can reach support by telephone at +1 (800) 354-9706. They can troubleshoot through the support forum or by submitting a case, the website has resources such as best practices, tutorials, podcasts, user guides, FAQs and more. Some individuals get a digital success specialist to help with setup, troubleshooting and other issues.

For additional help, there’s a faculty partner network who share their experiences and advice to help answer questions with coursework. There’s a higher education digital community that discusses using online resources to teach. Those needing help can also fill out a form on the website or access the company Twitter for additional help.

mail_outlineEmail: There’s no general-purpose support email for the solution, but people can use the support website or reach out to support through the Twitter handle @CengageHelp.
phonePhone: It offers support at +1 (800) 354-9706. There’s 24-hour support for users who need assistance with access codes, registration, assignments, system compatibility, grading or content. For billing, purchasing, refunds or rentals, support is available from 6:00 p.m. to midnight on Sunday; from 8:00 a.m. to noon and midnight to 2:00 p.m. on Monday through Thursday; from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and midnight to 2:00 a.m. on Friday; and is closed on Saturday.
schoolTraining: There is no formal training, but it provides guides, video tutorials and webinars.
local_offerTickets: Users with accounts can submit a case online by going to the support section of the website.

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