Choose Your Own Adventure: How to Personalize Courses for an Exceptional Learning Experience

Concurrent Session 2

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Every student is unique: they bring their own experiences, backgrounds and preferences into each room. What if we could personalize the learning experience to meet all of those students exactly where they are and take them to where they need to be? What if they could Choose Their Own Adventure?


Robyn Hammontree is an Academic Director at Noodle, where she oversees the development and design of online programs at several universities. Prior to working at Noodle, she was a Senior Instructional Designer at The University of Alabama specializing in interactive technology, and worked as a Curriculum Developer with The Institute of Reading Development.

Extended Abstract

Do you remember the old Choose Your Own Adventure books? Did you, too, spend hours flipping forward and back, wondering where each path would lead? Did you engage with these books in a way you didn’t with other books? Did you remember them more clearly? Though few of us recognized it at the time, this was one of our first entries into the Personalized Learning Experience: our earliest tangible proof that personalizing experiences leads to deeper engagement, better recall, and frankly, just more fun!

Every student is unique: they bring their own experiences, backgrounds and preferences into each room (or virtual room) they step into. At the same time, every course has certain objectives which must be achieved. How do we meet each student where they are, individually, and get them to where they need to be? In particular, how do we do this in online courses, outside the traditional classroom, where we can’t necessarily recognize and respond, in real time, to individual student needs? 

We wondered: what if you could take the model from those books from our childhood and apply it to an online course? Well, as it turns out, you can! We took a plain, dry Creative Writing course and applied the Choose Your Own Adventure Model, allowing students to customize their learning experiences throughout the journey. The revised course is an adventure within itself: it includes a navigation map, a badging system for the trek, and many creative assignments that students can mix-and-match throughout the course to achieve the course goals. 

In this session, participants will not only learn about how we did it, but about how they, too, can apply this model to their courses. We’ll spend a few minutes going over the personalizable elements of our Choose Your Own Adventure Course. Then, we’ll ask participants to consider their own current courses and assignments, and how this model might be applied to their own curriculum to create deeper learning experiences for their students. Participants will walk away with their own Choose Your Own Adventure Map to guide them in revising their own assignments and courses to allow for greater personalization and deeper student engagement.