Paper packages tied up with string

Yeah I went there. Not even sorry.

Lately I’ve been musing on adaptive learning. I’m not going to talk about the Moodle lesson module, which I have a long illustrious history in hating, or proprietary solutions like Smart Sparrow or anything Adobe branded, which I also have a long illustrious history in hating. The latter are useless when you have budget and resourcing constraints. The former is just an infuriating UX.

I’ve never been big on adaptive learning as driven by education, because generally games do it way better than we ever do when we’re focused on the outcomes rather than the experience. But since personalisation is the newest buzzword on the edublock (or I may just be late to the party, one or the other), one can’t ignore it forever.

What to do? Well if games are doing it better than we are, may as well game engine it up.

Twine is all my favourite things – free, open source, platform agnostic, lightweight, spits out html and full of retro nostalgia for text-based choose your own adventure games. Another instance of me being late to the party since it’s been around for years, but it’s not really me if I’m not flogging old horses for new tricks now is it.

The main benefit for me of Twine is that it has a visual node based backend. Which for people like me who struggle with the visualisation of adaptive and branched things makes life very easier because you have a built-in map of all the various nodes and branches.

Look at all the nodes. Look at them.

So what am I actually doing with this?

Let’s say you’re Ed. Let’s say you’re sick of wasting time telling students how to navigate the dumpster fire of a uni website to locate the fact sheets and resources they need. Let’s say that you’d rather just give students a resource pack and get on with developing more valuable skills. How do you create a customised resource pack based on different study paths of students, whilst also giving students some agency in telling their own study stories?

So I’ve been experimenting with hanging fact sheets, policies and links off various nodes, which allows students to navigate through and answer various questions to build their own starter resource pack based on their journey to study, enrolment path, need for support etc etc. It’s not an elegant solution because it doesn’t automatically generate a zip file at the end or anything and unless you get hardcore CSS-ey the interface is very 1980s text-based choose-your-own-adventure game, but that does hold a certain level of appeal for me. It does, however, allow for very rapid development with no need for budget or resources (theme song for my life).

Whether it ends up being an ultimately usable solution remains to be seen, but Twine is definitely staying on my radar of neat free tools to pull out when the situation warrants.


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