Introduction to Delphinium

What does a face-to-face class have that online course materials are missing?

The answer is "You". 

Online education is missing all that you bring to motivate and engage your students in the room with you. The way you capture students' attention; your personality and how you "connect" with students, and keep things interesting and fun; your ability to "catch students doing the right thing" and celebrate success; the time you take to guide students to higher performance and shepherd struggling students; how you give students the chance to express themselves and connect with other students—their friends; and the way you help students feel what needs to be done NOW.

You help students grow as learners, build confidence, stay on task, and work well with others; and as a result, your students learn more, get better grades and find more success and completion. With Delphinium, you can have all of this in online education too! Delphinium makes the online portion of your class more "YOU" and helps students WANT to learn. The results are dramatic improvements in completion and performance!

All this and Delphinium only takes 15 minutes to install, you don't have to change your current online materials in any way, and there is practically no maintenance!

Education is Changing

As educators, we are all in the business of student success. Our students come to us to improve their prospects and we owe them our best. More and more education is moving online and our students are coming to expect it. However, our decades-old approach to education has been slow to adapt. Many of our face-to-face engagement strategies don’t translate well online.

A Few Sobering Statistics

Why Do Some Students Struggle? 

This is clearly a complex question, but I’d like to challenge two assumptions about poor performing students:

While these are clearly true SOME of the time, in most cases I don’t believe it is the whole, or even most of, the story. Most of what we teach is within the reach of most of our students. We’ve all encountered the struggling student who “catches fire” and “comes alive”. So I think that raw student ability is rarely the limiting factor. Also, we’ve been working on pedagogy and content for 100s of years. There is not a lot of low-hanging fruit left--there is only so much you can do with better visual aids and activities.

Ineffective Solutions with Unintended Consequences

We suggest that poor performers are often not poor learners, they are just not engaged. When we focus course improvement efforts on student ability or content and pedagogy, our solutions to poor performance may have unintended consequences and will likely not yield the results we hope for. For example, we often see teachers reduce the number of assignments, or make the assignments easier to help low performing students. The result is a class that does not serve anyone well. High performing students are cheated out of a rigorous learning experience that will stretch their potential. Unengaged low performing students will not improve much either because less or easier work still does not make the experience engaging. We need solutions that work for all our students, both high and low performing.

Motivation and Engagement is the Solution! 

In addition to student ability and effective pedagogy and content, there is a third ingredient required for student success:

We often overlook this ingredient when are thinking strategically about helping students. Delphinium can help! Delphinium quickly and easily adds a layer of engagement to your courses and provides teachers with tools they need to connect with students and be better mentors.

Delphinium the engagement builder logo

What is Delphinium? 

Delphinium is an award-winning Canvas plugin that quickly adds an engaging overlay to ANY course. It is research based and draws on principles of learning, motivation, and behavioral economics (nudge) to help students WANT to perform. Its purpose is to improve student withdrawals, failures, dropouts, and performance. It helps students emphasize the SKILL, WILL, and THRILL of learning! Delphinium also provides effective tools to help teachers connect with and mentor students. With Delphinium, teachers can see at a glance who is struggling and send personalized messages in just a few clicks.

Delphinium’s Origins 

Delphinium's story starts in 2012 when we noticed that our students seemed to be addicted to smartphone games. We asked, “How can we get our students addicted to homework in the same way?” This launched the research and development for Delphinium.

Delphinium turns Canvas from this... this!

A sterile list of assignments with very little motivating information.

A visually engaging interface that surfaces the right information at the right time to help students want to perform.

A Few Examples


This interface that can be used in a face-to-face or hybrid class. Here the modules are displayed as information rich boxes which help students clearly see where they have been, where they are, and where they are going.

Self-paced Online 

This interface is designed for self-paced online classes, students have freedom to choose their own path through the content.

Cafeteria-style / Competency-based 

This interface has been designed to support cafeteria-style or competency-based course designs.

Drive Engagement and Direct Attention to Key Activities 

In addition to improved content and feedback tools, Delphinium also includes a suite of components that drive engagement and direct student attention to key activities. These include a leaderboard, avatars, prize boxes and other dashboard elements.

Powerful Teacher Tools For Identifying and Communicating with Students 

Delphinium includes powerful Teacher Tools for identifying struggling and excelling students and the means to quickly communicate with them. These are some of teachers' favorite features!

Delphinium also automates communication with scheduled Canvas messages and announcements, Delphinium banner messages, and dynamically generated weekly report emails to students and teachers.

Easy to Use Layout Editor, Layout Coach, and Templates

Delphinium provides an easy to use layout editor, layout coach, and templates that makes adding Delphinium to ANY Canvas course simple and quick!

What Students Say… 

What Teachers Say… 

Delphinium's Results from Recent Research

Return on Investment

For many schools, legislatures and other stakeholders expect results for their investment . Let's consider a hypothetical example: A large university or school district can have an annual budget of $250M to cover all of the expenses, including buildings, grounds, teachers, administrators, etc. and they might produce 3,700 graduates a year. 

With a little math, we can see that each graduate costs ~$67,000!

If we could use Delphinium to improve the graduation rate by just 1%, 37 more students would graduate a year, lowering the costs per graduate by $670 which would result in $2.5M spent more efficiently EVERY year!

If we want to use a more conservative estimate and improve graduation by just .1%, the result is still $250K spent more efficiently every year.

The investment in Delphinium has a clear connection to being a better steward of the resources we manage for our stakeholders, and more important, Delphinium yields a better investment in our students!

Welcome to the Delphinium Millennium!

We hope you enjoyed this introduction to Delphinium and found the information useful. This site contains numerous tutorials to help you get started quick and then, when you are ready, deep dive into how to get the most out of Delphinium in your classes

Delphinium the engagement builder logo