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Design adaptive learning


Has anybody done any adaptive learning course development entirely in Canvas? Would like to get some insights and ideas on how it was done based. Thank you.

11 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello wanfareed.  This is an interesting topic and I look forward to reading the replies from those in the Community!  Are you looking for ideas that only use Canvas for adaptive learning or would linking to other sources from Canvas fit your needs as well?  I used ALEKS in the past for a couple of math classes by linking to this from the LMS (not Canvas), but there is no reason why something similar couldn't be done within a Canvas shell.  I was also part of team that put together a developmental math class in Canvas by linking to material from Khan Academy.  This was probably more mastery based than adaptive, but it included some elements I associate with adaptive learning.  I would be happy to provide more information on this class if it would be of interest.

Best wishes!

Hi Deactivated user. Thanks for the post. For the mechanics that potentiate the adaptive 'engine', I would be looking that within Canvas. What feature(s) I need to use or consider for the adaptive path to be made possible? This will probably be based on marks or mastery (if we use it). Based on those, students will then be brought a different set of content or activities. The intent is more for formative to 'auto-scaffold' based on students activities and/or performance. Or probably I should call it adaptive scaffold 🙂

I reckon that with adaptive, the need for multitude of resources becomes apparent. I guess then it is inevitable to look out for resources out of Canvas such as Open, Free or CC resources.

I would be happy to accept your offer to learn what you have done in the Math class. 

wanfareed, I am not aware of anything native to Canvas that I would consider truly adaptive learning.  You might look into Mastery Paths.  Here is a good video introduction , and this blog by  @kona  was very helpful as I explored this feature, Hacking Mastery Paths.  Mastery Paths could allow you to differentiate content depending on how students score on an initial assessment but not have the content be adaptive . . . at least in how I view this concept.  

Looking through  for LTIs that integrate with Canvas, IADLearning, LoveMath, alta Knewton, Scootpad, and ALEKS are listed as "adaptive" and Brightspace LeaP and Cerego suggest they help create "personalized" learning.  These are probably not free and I am not familiar with any except ALEKS, but it may be worth looking into further.

We chose to use Khan Academy (About Khan Academy |Khan Academy) as the basis for our developmental math class because it was free.  Basically, in each module we had students use KA to learn particular concepts by linking to learning content and exercises they needed to complete.  The faculty member was added as a coach by each student and while working in Khan students needed to be logged in to their account.  In this way, the faculty member was able to view detailed analytics of what the student completed and how they answered questions.  We provided students with a guidebook that had sample problems and additional practice problems.  Three times during the term students needed to complete a quiz in Canvas over 1/3 of the total course content.  This was intended to help students stay on track . . . they could go as quickly as they liked but had several points throughout the class where they needed to be at least 1/3 or 2/3 through the content.  We intended this to help those who would otherwise tend to procrastinate and then try to cram too much learning into too short of a time toward the end of class.

Speaking to those who facilitated the course, one thing we learned is that students did need more content than what was in KA alone, so the faculty member began adding links to other sites with tutorials as well. Although our sample size was small, we didn't find any difference in success rate of students taking this type of class compared to a more traditional face-to-face developmental math course.  As expected, a portion of students went though the course with little issue and have minimal contact with faculty directly while others would be in contact frequently to work through issues.

We considered this course to be mastery-based and adaptive, although we provided greater structure for students that I have seen in some adaptive learning courses.

I hope this helps and look forward to insight from others!

Thank you. This is really helpful ericwerth‌. How did facilitators learn that students needed more content? And do you (they) know what kind of content students needed? To me  this is crucial as it will help in the ensuing iteration of the course to relook at those content and how they could be utilized and possible rearrange for differentiated content.

Good question wanfareed.  This happened in a variety of ways.  One of the primary tools was the coach dashboard within Khan Academy.  The facilitator would access at this frequently and get very detailed information on the activity of student's within KA as well as their mastery level. The faculty member teaching the class would look for areas of concern, primarily lack of activity and areas where Khan indicated students were struggling, and reach out to determine what support was needed.  The three quizzes in Canvas provided another check point.  As I mentioned earlier, these were primarily to help keep students on a reasonable pace and help prevent procrastination, but also served as a way outside of Khan Academy to determine where students were performing well and where they were struggling.  Lastly, we contacted students following the course to get feedback on what could be improved for future courses.

I am a big fan of adaptive learning, and if you or your facilitators teach a course where content is covered in KA, I would highly suggest you check into how this might fit into class.  One of the interesting dynamics we ran in to, not surprisingly, is the very different needs of students in a course with set start and end dates.  There were students who clearly already had competency in some course content  when they began as well as others who struggled because they were missing much knowledge we considered a pre-requisite to the class. We recognized, however, that this is the case in most of our classes but we often don't take the time to assess this or focus on building mastery in these areas of weakness when it isn't part of our own curriculum.

This is very interesting Deactivated user‌. So KA actually played a crucial role in the entire process. We probably need to rely on human side a wee bit more for our initial run. We will use external resources but these may be of different sorts and from different sources (not a single place like KA). I hope to be able to use the readily available analytics to help with this as well.

Thanks again for the insights!

Any time wanfareed.  Good luck and let us know how it goes!  

Surveyor II

I have been using Smart Sparrow for adaptive lesson integration into CANVAS.  You can develop simple lessons yourself - work is involved with scoring mechanisms though.  The scores are automatically moved to the CANVAS grade book. Cost is about $15/student.  Getting Started on Smart Sparrow Adaptive Platform – The Numerical Methods Guy 

Community Member

Hi  @kaw ‌ Can I ask how this works? Are students going offsite to complete the work built in smartsparrow? How does it integrate back to canvas? Is it set up as an assignment with an 'external tool'? 
I've never been able to use smart sparrow outside of trial but it is one platform I am truly impressed with and would love to use more in the future. Just never had the opportunity to use it in conjunction with canvas.