Monday, August 28, 2006

Paradox of Choice and Usability

Interesting Interview with Barry Schwartz, who I've been paying close attention to for his work on decision-making and the paradox of choice. He makes the point that our institutions (health care, for example) are trying to move toward offering more choice (and not always for altruistic reasons), but that in many cases, people aren't properly prepared or supported in making these new decisions. A fair bit of the article deals with design issues, and how more choices on screens/pages isn't always better either...but I was most interested in his comment about choice in post-secondary education:
"And you see this all over. In the domain I know best, the world of academic institutions, increasingly, especially in the more selective places, they essentially don’t tell students what to do. They give you this gigantic list of courses, 'Take 10 of these and you will have met our liberal arts requirement. We don’t care which 10.' Here are these 18 year olds who don’t know squat, and people who do know something aren’t willing to tell them what they ought to do."
I think this is the sort of thing that 43 Things is providing for people who are trying to figure out what learning to pursue -- advice of others who have already pursued the same kinds of things and the support of others choosing the same goals. Things like professor-rating sites also add more to the mix in helping individuals make better-informed decisions about their learning. I expect lots of growth in this area...

2 comments:

Artichoke said...

Thanks for the new link to Schwartz's thinking Jeremy - I have added it to the The New Zealand Curriculum Draft for Consultation 2006: A scaffold for dissatisfaction and depression post on Artichoke

Jeremy said...

Cool, Artichoke. I'm reading his book right now and it's excellent. Easy to read, with all kinds of interesting insights into how we make decisions. Recommended...