Vygotsky (1978) came up with the term “zone of proximal development” to describe the right challenge level to maximize learning for a given student. Ideally, each student will receive instruction, material and an environment that will place them right in their own personal ZPD. Ideally.

Now that I have term for this somewhat commonsense ideal, how do I apply it in the real world? As I create technical and business training programs, do I design the course to optimally challenge the average student? The least experienced? The model student?  This may be orders of magnitude more difficult as I shift to self-serve, online courses. Wouldn’t it be cool to custom tailor an online curriculum based on each students’ ZPD and Multiple Intelligence profile? That’s an intriguing challenge …


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