One of Skilling’s coolest features is that what a student sees can change, depending on their attributes, progress in the course, date, the cafeteria’s soup of the day… just about anything.

An example. Sometimes differences in student attributes lead to predictable differences in preparation, that is, knowledge students have coming into a course. This can affect their ability to learn. For instance, suppose you’re writing a lesson on internet culture. You want to write about the “narwhals are awesome” video popular a few years ago.

A problem: you have many students whose first language is Chinese. The word “narwhal” was not part of their English courses.

Skilling lets you add conditions to content within lessons, exercises, patterns, whatevs. For example:

Some videos spread globally. An example is the 
"Narwhals Are Awesome": video, 
popular in 2016.

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

  (Chinese content explaining what a narwhal is.)


How did this video spread, and why?

(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. One student sees the Chinese text, while another does not, depending on the students’ attributes.

Notice that the lesson author added the check, without help from a programmer. The syntax is simple enough that a non-technical person could learn how to do it quite easily.


Wait, what? How would the site know what the student’s first language is?

Various possibilities:

  • The student tells the site.

  • The instructor or an assistant tells the site.

  • The site imports data from somewhere, like an official student information system.

You can use conditions to change lessons for:

  • Disabled students

  • Students in a particular major

  • Students doing well in the course

  • Students not doing well

  • Students reading the lesson after a particular date

  • Students who are close to graduation

  • Students living off-campus

Another example. Let’s say you’re writing lesson 5 of a course. Understanding lesson 5 depends on understanding earlier lessons.

You might type this at the start of the lesson:

  condition = not [exercise:dogs_poker:submitted]

  You haven't submitted the Dogs Playing Poker
  exercise from the previous lesson. You
  might have a hard time understanding this
  new lesson. Go back and do the Dogs Playing
  Poker exercise before you read on.


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


That’s soooo cool! That’s a nudge, right?

Yes, that’s what some writers would call it. Nudges can affect student behavior.

Yet another example. Suppose a statistics course has 50 lessons. Someone works their way to lesson 40 before the halfway point in the course, and has submitted most of the exercises. That’s impressive!

You type this at the start of lesson 40:

  condition = [course:days-since-start] < 44 and [course:exercises-submitted-count] > 30

  Hey! You're making great progress! Thanks for
  your extra effort!

  You should think about the data analytics
  major. You might enjoy it, and analytics jobs pay
  Benjamins. Check it out at [URL].


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


Nice! Customized advising, built right into the course!

Exactly! Imagine a textbook that gives students individual advice. That’s what’s happening.


Hmm. I’ve been learning about universal design for learning. Sounds like Skilling would help me do UDL in a real course.

That’s right! Another reason Skilling rocks. You can do the things research recommends.