Adapting Online Course Materials to Individual Students

Jack Dempsey
Innovation in Learning Center, University of South Alabama

At many universities, courses that use online materials often do not take advantage of methods to adapt to individual learners. Yet there are dozens of approaches to make online materials more responsive to individuals. One approach is conditional navigation. With conditional navigation, the learner responds to questions about the content and is directed toward specific learning materials depending on his or her responses. There are quite a number of tactics that facilitate conditional navigation. Some are apparent to the learner, some are not. They range from sophisticated adaptive learning technologies using real-time analysis of student performance data to simple systems that give tips to a learner about how to optimize the learning experience.

Using a number of concrete examples, this presentation will introduce faculty to conditional navigation concepts (including simple informal approaches, if/then flowcharts and matrices, and pedagogical “agents”). It will also highlight some of the benefits and flaws of newer adaptive learning software being touted by publishers and other proprietary ventures.