Class profiles

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Kieran Mathieson

Rodney Parks has an article in Educause Review on supplying faculty with comprehensive learner profiles. Instructors get detailed information on students in capstone classes, such as the prior courses students have taken. Instructors can adjust courses as needed.

Skilling lets you add fields to student account records. Disability status, languages spoken, grades in prerequisite courses... whatever you like. Data can be entered manually, or even better, imported from a student information system (SIS). Drupal is good at importing data from disparate systems.

The article prompted a couple of thoughts. First, while a Skilling site could have the necessary data, it doesn't generate the reports Parks wrote about. It should, though. Drupal's Views module is the perfect tool for that. We'll work on replicating what Parks has done.

Second, SIS data usually stops at course boundaries. Does it have to? Here's an example from the page Different students, different needs. Suppose you're writing a lesson on internet culture. You want to write about the "narwhals are awesome" video that was popular a few years ago.

One problem is that you have many students whose first language is Chinese. The word "narwhal" was probably not part of their ESL (English as a second language) courses.

Skilling lets you add conditions to lessons. For example:

(Lesson introduction)


  condition=[student:first-language] == "chinese"

  (Chinese content explaining what a narwhal is.)


(Lesson continues)

(Don't copy-and-paste this into a Skilling site. It won't work, unless you set things up right.)

The lesson adjusts itself, depending on what your Skilling site knows about the particular student who is reading the lesson.

Lessons can adjust themselves based on anything your SIS knows. Veteran status? No problem. Community service? Check. Eye color? Well, if that's in your SIS, you can use it in Skilling.

No doubt you can think of other uses for Skilling's condition property. Like a nudge from the registrar.

Hey, it looks like you're getting close to graduation. Don't forget to fill out a degree application form. Here's the link...



I'm in the registrar's office. We could add messages to students' online textbooks?

Yes. Only students close to graduation would see the message, so students aren't overwhelmed with things that aren't relevant to them.

Perhaps a nudge from advising, in a statistics course.

Wow! You're way ahead in the exercises. If you like this course, you might think about the actuarial science major.



No way, dude! Focused advising, reaching just the right students. In their textbooks.

Yes, way, dude!

Achievement awarded: data from an SIS changes course content.

Suggestions? Please comment.