Content vs Context – a contradiction?

Peter Baumgartner reminds us about the role of usage context for quality assessment of learning materials:

In all the projects funded by the German BMBF we have tried to deliver excellent e-Learning content. As chairman of the “audit commission” I led a group of experts who recommended the ministry a change of gears: Instead to focussing on the creation of correct and well presented content a new call for bids should concentrate on the quality of the didactical integration of this content. We coined the saying: Context instead of Content.

I’d call this “content without context approach” a “corpus centered approach” (while corpus is the material body: texts, images, articles, assignments, etc).

The problem with the context hypothesis is this: Do we really have a good understanding about what context we are talking about? I think it would fall too short to read it as “learning situations”. I’d approach the “context” notion much more fundamentally.

So if Peter suggests

One impact could be that we do not have to put all our forces in “excellent” presentation of content. Instead we should design content for certain situations (context).

then I think we should have a very clear understanding about these situations. I suspect this is in part a reason why “personal web publishing” and “weblogs in education” are an ongoing discussion among educators: To some degree the weblogging activity is about learners can start to actively create own context.

But what is “own context”? I have to admit, that I currently lack the time to think (and write) about it. But I’d currently suggest to think of it as the opposite of a “reality distortion field” that affects personal aspirations and motivations.






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