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ATD Blog

Understanding Systems Content


Sat Jun 11 2005


Anyone who creates formal learning experiences has to understand how something happens in order to present it, to test it, and increasingly to create an environment where people can play/practice in it.

To do this beyond the most simple examples, the next generation of educational content creators are going to have to get good at identifying and building systems. Spreadsheets, STELLA, and some of Forio's tools all are places to practice. Computer games are places to see the results of some interesting systems that others have built.


Just some of the terms that soon should be commonpace are:

  • Energy of activation

  • Feedback

  • Feedback loops

  • Negative feedback loops

  • Blancing factors

  • Delay

  • Pendulums

  • Noise

  • Load balancing

  • All-or-nothing activation

  • Fuzzy logic

  • Throttles

  • Butterfly effect

  • Geometric growth

  • Primary variables

  • Secondary and tertiary variables

  • Chaos theory

  • Rate determining steps

  • Calibrating agents

  • Nodes and supernodes

  • Short-term fixes

  • State-based systems

We will have to look at physics and chemistry, engineering, even environmental studies for the right language. This list may seem daunting to some. But I believe it will be second nature to increasingly large numers of instructional designers.

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