Part 9: Spring 2019 Labs

156 Programmed Learning in Canvas – 02.08.2019

Self-paced, individual learning activities in Pressbooks, Storyline, and Articulate are hard to build but well received by students. At the February 8, 2019 Active Teaching Lab, 20 participants braved single digit temperatures and ice to gather for a discussion on how to more easily create effective programmed learning activities. Several debated which tools are best for various purposes and swapped experiences with designing and implementing programmed learning for improved student studying.


  • Identify the activity’s purpose. Is the primary purpose to break up a dense lecture? To gauge student understanding? To provide an opportunity for application of knowledge? Knowing your intent will help you make decisions about the format and facilitation of the activity.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel; make use of shared resources by adapting existing content to your needs.
  • Consider accessibility: What technology will your students need to successfully participate? Laptop? Smartphone? Do your students have access to these tools? Do students (and instructors) have access to support? Click here for a list of UW-supported applications, reference this KnowledgeBase chart to distinguish among the advanced content creation tools available at UW-Madison, and learn more about the tools discussed: Articulate360/Storyline, Pressbooks, H5P, SCORM.
  • Build in plenty of time for training, facilitation, and troubleshooting, and have back-up plans. Provide detailed instructions, and be sure the first experience with any tool is low- to no-stakes to avoid penalizing students for misunderstandings or tech problems.
  • Use programmed learning activities as formative as well as summative assessment. Students can use self-paced activities to see how they’re doing and determine where their studying efforts are best directed.

For more programmed learning tools, tips, and examples, visit the session’s activity sheet.


The Active Teaching Lab is a Faculty Engagement program with sessions held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:00pm and Fridays from 8:30-9:45am in the Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.), room 120. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs. We build interdisciplinary conversations that are more emergent than a presenter and more dynamic than a panel — a conversation with colleagues sharing challenges, solutions, and experiments on topics selected by a variety of stakeholders.

Sign up for regular Lab announcements by sending an email to


Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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