Commentary

Morph Me

  • by , June 6, 2008

An article entitled Behavioral Insider: And Now For Something Completely Different by Steve Smith addresses a prospective shift to morphing websites to match website features to customers' individual cognitive styles. The article goes on to explain how researchers have defined eight different cognitive styles of web users that would be analyzed using the individual's clickstreams. Once the user's style is defined, the website's basic structure and features will be morphed in real time to individualize the customer's online experience.

Smith discusses this morphing primarily in relation to marketing - citing research that suggests a 20% increase in sales for those clients who implement this feature in their websites. Furthermore, Smith argues "If retailers can better understand the ways in which specific customers really shop and decide, then the very voice and architecture of the store can target cognitive process, not just their immediate needs or shopping goals."

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Now, what if the quote above was not discussing retailers and customers, rather teachers, students and individualized learning experiences? Can we extend this idea of morphing retail websites to morphing online educational materials? In my classroom experiences, teachers and professors had just begun to integrate websites and online textbook supplements into the classroom and course requirements. I imagine that if tracking cognitive styles for customers can have such great success, the same would be true of students' knowledge comprehension through the use of morphed online educational supplements.

I think website morphing is a fabulous idea from a consumer and a student standpoint. I would love to have websites that conform to my particular preferences and learning styles. With such an individualized online experience, I would be more inclined to spend a greater amount of time perusing shopping websites because of its ease. More importantly I believe I would be more likely to engage in online course materials if they fit my particular learning style. To compensate for a textbook's inability to suit all individual learning styles (without being overwhelming in length and content), online course supplements have become a staple in many successful classrooms. In the immediate future, I imagine these types of websites will not simply be a supplement to the course required materials, but an integral component.

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