Tools for Dynamic Experimentation and Personalization

Tools for Dynamic Experimentation and Personalization

Joseph Jay Williams, Anna Rafferty, Samuel Maldonado, Andrew Ang, Dustin Tingley, and Juho Kim

Randomized experiments in online educational environments are ubiquitous as a scientific method for investigating learning and motivation, but too rarely improve educational resources and produce practical benefits for learners. We suggest that software and tools for experimentally comparing resources are designed primarily through the lens of experiments as a scientific methodology, and therefore miss a tremendous opportunity for online experiments to serve as engines for dynamic improvement and personalization. We present the MOOClet requirements specification to guide the implementation of software or tools for experiments to ensure that whenever alternative versions of a resource can be experimentally compared (by randomly assigning versions), the resource can also be dynamically improved (by changing which versions are presented), and personalized (by presenting different versions to different people). The MOOClet specification was used to implement DEXPER, a proof-of-concept web service backend that enables dynamic experimentation and personalization of resources embedded in front-end educational platforms. We describe three use cases of MOOClets for dynamic experimentation and personalization of motivational emails, explanations, and problems.