Smart Sparrow / BEST network

Smart Sparrow








Smart Sparrow is an adaptive eLearning software platform that lets educators create rich, interactive and adaptive learning experiences. It was founded by in 2011 by Dr. Dror Ben-Naim who led a research group in the field of Intelligent Tutoring systems and educational data mining at UNSW, Australia. Its novel use in the biomedical sciences was piloted in the School of Medical Sciences at UNSW, and has also been incorporated into the development of resources for the BEST Network.

Smart Sparrow includes an intuitive authoring tool that provides students with an interactive way of learning that can be adapted to different learning styles or levels of understanding and receive real-time learning analytics. With simple drag and drop authoring and built-in templates, you can save time creating your adaptive online modules. Learning paths that dynamically change according to student performance can be easily defined with varying levels of adaptivity. Additional pathways can be added for either remediation, or to extend top students.

The BEST Network began as a government funded $4.5M project in 2012 to establish a network of leading biomedical schools and peak industry bodies set to revolutionise biomedical education by addressing a critical need in biomedical education world-wide: the need for easy sharing of knowledge, expertise, courseware and technologies. Smart Sparrow's technologies help to power the network.

Smart Sparrow's tools have several applications for assessing students digitally. A simple quiz using multiple choice questions could be put together in a matter of minutes and can be deployed via your Moodle course, with all grades synchronising to Gradebook. See the Showcase section below for a link to an example. The BEST network is particularly good for biomedicine, and it's core features allow you to adapt existing lessons as well as utilise a bank of premium medical images to create richer, more engaging content for student assessment.

Getting started

  • General information can be found on Smart Sparrow's website;
  • All teaching staff at UNSW can use Smart Sparrow as part of the enterprise license – if you require an account, see this page
  • If you are new to Smart Sparrow, it might be best to first get familiar with the instructor side of the platform via their knowledge base
  • The BEST network can be accessed here;
  • Sign up for a free BEST account here.


Smart Sparrow Adaptive Tutorials as Summative Assessments

Professor Gary Velan

Since 2014, Gary Velan has been deploying Smart Sparrow adaptive tutorials as summative assessments to replace phase 1 Medicine practical examinations in histology, embryology and pathology.

Formative quiz in appropriate indigenous terminology

Benjamin Kelly

Benjamin Kelly has been using Smart Sparrow for the past two years in his course ATSI1011 Indigenous Australia, guiding students through a series of questions asking them to consider the appropriateness of how certain words and phrases are used in the context of Indigenous Australia.

Formative assessment in Resolving Civil Disputes using Smart Sparrow

Dr James Metzger

Dr James Metzger has been convening Resolving Civil Disputes (RCD) in the Law Faculty since 2018 and was involved with the design of the digital materials for the course over the last 2 years using Smart Sparrow. He has received positive feedback from students and RCD scored the highest course evaluation in T1 2019.

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