...context is king
The concept of digital repository - collections of useful artefacts that are aggregated together online in an accessible form - is a good one, but the idea loses traction if users cannot interact with the content and hold relevant conversations about it. Increasingly, users also want to repurpose and remix content they find, something which the old style repositories did not allow. The introduction of copyright workarounds such as Creative Commons have given web users the capability to use content in new and creative ways, thereby extending the capabilities, reach and scalability of the content beyond the original intentions of its creator.
As I argued yesterday however, content is no longer the driving force of the web, and should not be viewed in isolation. The context within which the content is situated should also be focused upon as an important component of any analysis of web based learning activity. Content can have two completely different meanings (or functions) if seen in two different contexts. Writing about assessment methods on a teacher discussion site would probably be well received, and users would no doubt engage with any ensuing conversations. Posting the same article up on a site frequented by accountants would be stupid. Unless of course the assessment you were talking about was tax assessment.
I was joking yesterday when I tweeted that my post 'Content is a tyrant' had received over 500 hits in just a few hours, and perhaps the reason was because I used a pretty picture. I was of course being ironic, because it's debatable whether the picture is content or context. For me, the images featured in my blogposts are better seen as contextual, in that they frame the content and provide additional meaning. Photographs are indeed content, but in this setting, they serve as signposts and illustrations to situate the content. We also need to be aware that the value of such content, any content, is subjective and can be interpreted any way the reader wishes.
More to follow on these thoughts in a future post...
Image from Fotopedia (can you see what it is yet?)
...context is king by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.