Content or Context

 I recently came across a suggestion that in 21st century education, context rather than content was king (if anyone can point me at the reference i would be so grateful!). It resonated with me then and I have been struggling to give some coherent form to my ideas ever since.

*Update – the reference was from a presentation that Steve Wheeler gave in March 2012 – The slide show is here and is well worth a look.

I have just signed up for the Designing New Learning Environments MOOC from Stanford (along with three of my colleagues) and have enjoyed reading some of the great posts that are already there.  I came across one from Sam Basu  where he mentioned that perhaps the three essential elements of an educational ecosystem were Content, Connectivity and Device. This was my reply in part –

“I wonder if there is a fourth area in the educational ecosystem – context. By this I mean both the context for the learning and also the context for the content. The concept of context (rather than content) being one of the essential components of an educational environment is a fairly new one to me and I am struggling to present it coherently – but I am trying to suggest that the contexts we place both the content and the learning experiences in, are often overlooked but are fundamental to creating a thriving ecosystem. The content itself may well change (and does with increasing speed – in my area of ICT at least) but the context in which the content is discovered, synthesised, evaluated – engaged with – and the context in which the content exists may have greater longevity and equal importance.”

This is going to be an important topic for me I think as I struggle to define what I mean by context, it partly relates to the pedagogy and design of authentic learning experiences but it also relates to the context in which the content is discovered – (a crude example would be an academic article or an advertisement).

As T.S.Eliot wrote in The Rock “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?. Finding both the knowledge and the wisdom seems to me to be one of the fundamental challenges for 21st century educators. I would love to hear other people’s ideas as I struggle to define what I mean 🙂

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