I’ve had the opportunity to see Dr. Jeff Borden on a few occasions and always appreciate his perspectives on learning and technology. Today was no exception. What I love about Dr. Borden’s presentations are that he doesn’t just preach, he shows and encourages the audience to experience what being discussed. One example of that was an exercise that illustrated to the audience in 30 seconds, what it had taken many years for people to realize as a whole. People aren’t average!
Jeff described the phenomenon of Ergodic Switch the idea that averages, though useful in understanding the world, can oversimplify the reality and suggests that average is an adequate representation of the whole.
The history and the narrative are interesting because of the impact that it has had over time, throughout all of modern educational experiences, but the concept is definitely important for now and into the future. Students are individuals who come to us with different experiences, perspectives and beliefs, all which diverge from their reported group average measures.
The implication of this is that we need learning experiences that are tailored to students where they are and how they think today, not a one size fits all approach to learning that fits nobody. There are two main ways that we are addressing this issue within current innovation projects.
Project-based Learning- Courses designed for students to develop something of interest over time with faculty serving as mentor and guide, providing content as feedback and shifting the focus away from the passive absorption of information to an active construction of schema.
Adaptive Learning Tools- Technologies that students interact with through the asking and answering of questions which serve to evaluate student proficiency and provide a unique learning experience focusing on learning only the content which has not yet been fully learned.
Though just a few simple examples, one or both of these elements run throughout nearly all of the current innovation projects and I think exemplify two solid strategies for addressing the Ergodic Switch.
Dr. Michael Kolodziej
AVP, Learning Design and Innovation