New Essay Published: Harnessing the complexity of education with information technology

Education at all levels is facing several challenges in most countries [1-4], such as low quality, high costs, lack of educators, and unsatisfied student demand. Traditional approaches are becoming unable to deliver the required education. Several causes for this inefficiency can be identified. I argue that beyond specific causes, the lack of effective education is related to complexity [5, 6]. However, information technology is helping us overcome this complexity.
Complexity can be measured with information theory and can be seen as the balance between stability and variability [7-10]: phenomena without change or with constant change cannot exhibit complex behavior. It has been noted that to actively control a complex system, the controller has to be at least as complex as the controlled [11, 12]. For example, a successful healthcare provider has to match the complexity of the patients she attends. Treatment is highly specific for different patients, so a general practitioner must have a high complexity to attend patients with diverse conditions. Concerning most preventive services, these are similar for most patients, and thus, can be delivered efficiently by providers with a lower complexity [13]. A similar approach can be used to study education and its complexity: a successful educational system has to match the complexity of its students.

Gershenson, C. (2014). Harnessing the complexity of education with information technology. Complexity, In Press.

Note: If you do not have access to the full text, e-mail me and I'll send the pdf. Also, you can find the preprint at


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