Network World has an article in their latest online issue that discusses the use of "morphing web sites" for increasing sales revenue for advertisers. The basic idea is that a web site "shapes" itself to a user’s preferences as the user navigates through the web site. The advertisements that are delivered to the web site are designed to appeal to the user’s preferences based on their navigation, eventually leading to a sale.
Now, what does this have to do with education? As I was reading through the article, I came across the following:
The BT experiment assessed subjects’ cognitive styles based on four different cognitive-style characteristics, each having two options. The cognitive styles defined whether individuals were readers or listeners, impulsive or deliberative, visual or verbal and leaders or followers.
These cognitive styles are the same styles used by students in the classroom to absorb the information presented. Some students are visual learners, others are aural learners, some are verbal learners and others rely more on pictures and images to help retain the information.
An educational web page or web site that could adjust itself to present information in a manner that was in tune with a particular student’s individual learning style (learned by the system as the student navigates through the web site) could significantly increase the amount of information retained by the student. In the particular example described in the article, researchers thought a morphing web site could lead to a 20% increase in sales (or more). I don’t know if this same increase would apply directly to an educational application of this technology, but it would definitely be worth finding out.
Another application for this technology pointed out in the article is to use it to identify a user’s cultural preference as well, once again providing the user with content suitable for their culture as well as their cognitive style.