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Ask an ALEKS Implementation Manager: Luke Whalen on Adaptive Learning

                    Have any burning ALEKS questions you want answered by our implementation team? Submit them here and we will include them in our newsletter next month.  

"Some of my students are telling me they’d like to go back and work on adaptive learning modules that were due earlier in the course, but ALEKS won’t let them do so. What can I tell them?"   

Luke Whalen here, ALEKS Implementation Manager for the Eastern Great Lakes Region! This a common question on the part of students, and the answer lies in the way that ALEKS is designed.  

When there is a “current” module open in the course (as defined by the date the student is accessing it), students will be directed by ALEKS to work on that current module, without the ability to jump forward to a future module or backward to a prior module. This is a very intentional design that has been put in place to increase students’ chances of success—we don’t want them jumping around in the course and letting themselves get distracted from the task at hand, which would be to their detriment as learners. 

That said: there are undoubtedly points in your class at which you as the instructor will want students to be able to go back and work on unlearned topics from previous modules. There are several ways to achieve this, including the following: 

  • Whenever an individual student finishes the current module in its entirety early, that student automatically earns the right to go back and work on topics from earlier modules until the new module opens. Make sure you advertise this to your students when they ask this question! You can tell them: “You do have the ability to go back to prior modules… you just need to finish the current one first!” 

  • You as the instructor can also choose to build intentional gaps between the dates of your modules. If Module 4 is due on Friday 10/27/23, and Module 5 doesn’t open until Monday 10/30/23, that leaves a 2-day period over the weekend in which all students in the class can work on unlearned topics in any prior modules in the course, since there’s no current module that ALEKS is directing them to work on.   

One other thing worth remembering here is that when a student doesn’t learn one or more topics within a given module by that module’s deadline, the unlearned topics will travel with the student into future modules if those topics are prerequisite skills needed to learn any of the topics in the future modules. So you as the instructor can rest assured that students won’t be allowed to work on any topic that they just aren’t ready to learn, regardless of how you structure your modules.