Equitable Online Course Design: Canvas Mastery Paths and EdPuzzle

In April of 2018, Merced College was accepted into OEI’s Consortium, in the Online Equity Cohort.  We are very pleased and excited.  We have set out to explore innovative approaches to promote equity in our online course designs.

If you have taught for a while, you know that your classes are populated by an array of diverse leaners.  You may have a student or two who gets it all right—on the first try, every time.  But you very likely have students who don’t pass on their first attempt.  “Second chance” opportunities can support them to re-study, review and try again.  Every student needs to build skills and competencies; and finish your class feeling enriched, accomplished and ready for the next challenge.

What Is Canvas Mastery Paths?

Use the links below to jump to different topics in the video above.

Canvas Mastery Paths is a feature in Canvas that allows instructors to set criteria for redirecting lower-performing students to supplementary or remedial activities (view the helpful Canvas Guide for Canvas Mastery Paths).  Suppose, for example, after a summative assessment such as a unit exam, the instructor finds that some students passed; while others “barely passed” and some failed the exam.  Mastery Paths allows instructors to redirect the students to varied levels of remediation.  Those who achieve acceptable (“passing”) scores of, let’s say, 70% are not redirected for remediation.  those who “barely passed”—e.g., scored between 60% and less than 70%–could be redirected to complete supplementary remediation at a moderate level.  Finally, those who did not pass with scores of at least 60% could be redirected for more intensive remediation.

Practical Considerations for Online Remediation

Relevant Substance

The remedial task or activity should be one that re-teaches content and concepts similar and relevant to that in the primary assessment.  For example, I teach Child Development for Merced College.  If I give my students an exam about how preschoolers develop physically, cognitively and socially; then any remedial tasks should focus on those same developmental domains.  It would be off-point to redirect study toward other topics; unless those are somehow foundational to the content that was not mastered on the exam.


Think about it.  Your students just bombed on your exam.  How enthused would they feel about being redirected to some labor-intensive, time-consuming, tedious and difficult requirement?  We can guess they would feel much more encouraged and willing to do a task that refocuses their attention in ways that are relatively quick, engaging and fun.

Immediate Feedback

Canvas Mastery Paths is very versatile.  Students could be redirected toward just about any assignment or task.  An instructor could, for example, have students write an essay, or create a slide show, to demonstrate that they have reviewed the content and their comprehension is now significantly improved, since the exam. However, any such assignment requires instructor grading, which of course takes time. To facilitate quick feedback, I recommend remedial tasks that can be auto-graded in Canvas, such as quizzes.

Advantages of EdPuzzle

EdPuzzle allows users to upload educational or other videos from virtually any source, such as YouTube, Khan Academy or even teacher-created videos. The free version of EdPuzzle works just fine for this stategy, but there are premium account options too with additional features. Instructors select videos with content appropriate for their current teaching needs and augment these using EdPuzzle tools.  With EdPuzzle, instructors can program a video to pause at strategic points, where questions or explanatory audio notes can be inserted.  Therefore, when your student views an EdPuzzle video, the playback pauses at strategic points and the student is challenged to answer questions displayed to the screen (and/or listen to your prerecorded comments).  Video is a very familiar and popular medium for most students today, which makes it an appropriate learning tool.

These features make EdPuzzle an effective approach for remediation, as well as other teaching methods.  Let’s say, for example, that a student scores poorly on an exam.  Presumably that student could benefit from a guided, focused re-study and re-assessment experience.  An EdPuzzle—which in effect is a video quiz—could be ideal for this purpose.

Want to see how all this works? View my video overview of this teaching practice (also see the quick links embedded at the top of this post to help you navigate the video topics). 

Hand in Glove

Therefore, when EdPuzzle is embedded into a Canvas quiz and used as the remedial method in Canvas Mastery Paths, low-scoring students can be automatically redirected to a fun and relatively easy, focused re-study and re-test opportunity, with a chance to recover a portion of the points missed on the recent exam or assessment.

EdPuzzle via Mastery Paths is an equitable strategy that gives your lower-scoring students a “second chance” at success in your course.

If you have any questions about this teaching strategy, please leave a comment below.  I would be happy to answer them.

Posted in Articles, Course Design Showcase, equity, Equity, Online Teaching, Rubric Section A, Uncategorized.

Marvin teaches Child Development at Merced College.


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