• Victoria Hekking

The Goldilocks Effect: What Amount of Learning Technology is "Just Right?"

By Jonathan Dyason |

The name of this blog post comes from Goldilocks's story, who had to choose the porridge that was just the right temperature. It means the preferred point between two extremes.

I would say more technology would lead to a more effective instructional product (i.e., better quality learning), though a more expensive and more complex one. The same could be said for the amount of time spent on art or production assets, or learning design. Therefore, I would argue that the answer to the question mentioned above comes not from an instructional perspective, but a budgetary one.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs

The Argument

You can use various technologies in the design and creation of learning products. Some technologies allow content to be available online, like LMSes, and further technologies added to these LMS courses—LTI applications—to enhance functionality. There is tech for analyzing student data: learning analytics. Further, artificial intelligence can provide personalized learning. There is tech to provide interactive exercises or, at a deeper level, simulation to allow for a more effective learning experience, such as virtual reality, educational games, or Articulate Storyline content. There is tech for increasing learner motivation, for example, gamified learning or educational games. There is tech to enable learners to learn on mobile devices, tech to help teachers with admin, tech to allow for the searching of answers to student questions, and much more.

Some examples of why more tech is better: if I make a product without learning analytics, I will not be able to improve the design as much as if it had this feature, as I will lack data. If I make a product that is not to some degree personalized to the learners’ zone of proximal development, many of the learners will find the content either too hard or too easy, resulting in diminished motivation and learning. If I make a product that does not engage students, fewer learners will use it, and those who do will use it for less time. If my product does not allow for effective simulation of using the content being taught, the content can only be taught at a shallower level. If the product is not optimized for certain devices, certain people, or certain circumstances, I exclude these learners from the product.

The Answer

The learning product has a particular goal—for example—to be a part of a system where the average student gets a 70% grade. I would submit that one would, therefore, want the least technology to reach that goal. Thus, the rule or equation to answer the above question would be “as little as needed to reach the instructional goal” (for the least price). On the other hand, we will undoubtedly see tech play a greater and greater role in education over time so another important answer may be “a bit more than yesterday.


Jonathan Dyason Learning Technologist at Construct

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