Context into Content: Using Lenses

As we look around us, all types of content are scattered surrounding us. A content generally refers to differing communicating medians that have information in them. This said information is often times approached at its face value or the general consensus of society if one does not understand the importance of context. Approaching information this way is one of the unproductive habits that we as a society practice as it misleads. It is important to see beyond the surface when we are given information, as infamous saying goes: never judge a book by its cover.

How does context apply to content in daily life?

Before we approach contextual ideas, let me use an example to demonstrate the importance of understanding context. Content: Johnny’s mother woke him up early in the morning and forces him to go to school

Information derived: Johnny is a lazy student that refuses to attend school

However, once I add that : Johnny is a teacher

The sentence is immediately understood in different context, which might most probably be:

Johnny is a working adult that is living with his mother and does not take tardiness seriously.

*Note how we automatically assume Johnny is a student while it is not conclusive that he is.

From this short demonstration, readers can identify a few key elements:

  • Content is often understood without deep thought. People habitually see it for its surface value and give it meaning through societal standards as a result of judging too quickly.
  • In actual fact, a content can hold various types of meaning and value. Meaning is be very subjective when observed from different viewpoints.
  • Content is dependant on context. What can be learnt from information is dependant on the different lenses that we use in order to make sense out of something.

Without contextual learning, information can be:

  • Perceived wrongly or in more dire scenarios, readers can be easily mislead by publishers that prey on our general assumption of things.
  • Taken as it is. Which makes learning somewhat boring and uninventive.
  • Differing ideas would not spark since everything is taken as it is.

Context: Essentially different POVs

The proper use of context is vital not just in daily use but more importantly it increases a learner’s ability to see different perspectives. This allows a learner to understand a topic more holisticly instead of just viewing things from a general angle. Many leading international school programs such as the International Baccalaureate (IB)1 or International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) also use context to educate their students in order to become smarter thinkers.

To demonstrate the effective application of context and its functions, allow me to show you a simulation between 2 learners and their POVs…Premise:
Student 1 – was not thought of the idea and proper application of context
Student 2 – went through a curriculum that teaches the importance of context and perspectives

Both the students are presented with the statement below: In line with India’s goal to become the world’s top 3 solar producer, the largest solar plant is recently launched in Tamil Nadu which has a capacity of 648 Megawatts (MW) and occupies a land of 10 sq km2.

Thought processes:

Student 1
Sees that India now has the world’s largest solar plant. Perceives the information with a singular POV. Understands that India’s goal is to become the world’s top 3 solar producer therefore it should be one of the more environmentally friendly country.

Student 2
Understands the statement similarly to Student 1. Extends on multiple contexts and different POVs, for example:
Globalisation – Global networks allowed solar tech to be more accessible to India
Sustainability – Beneficial not only to the environment but also makes electricity cheaper in the long run
Efficiency – Questions whether building the largest solar plant is true to their goal or rather just a public media stunt. Upon perceiving so, might research and choose to argue for/against.

Result?
Student 2 gains a more holistic point of view from a simple statement. The curiosity of the student drives an understanding beyond the surface in terms of environmentalism. This causes the student to dive deeper into the topic thus elevating his/her understanding.

Learners who have a understanding of context tend to diversify within a topic. This is the result of learning to see things from different perspective, as students learn to ask questions beyond the surface of the topic and develop an inquisitive attitude.

Importance of seeing perspectives:

  1. Learning with the understanding of context is important as it makes it possible for the person to translate the given knowledge (facts/statements) into newly developed ideas (conceptual)3.
  2. Since applying context means a higher understanding, researchers have also found that people remember information better with its application4.
  3. When one perceives information correctly, it is not recited blindly but instead contextualized practice allows the full grasp of knowledge thus the ability to apply it without constraint5.

This all shows how important developing a proper understanding of the relationship between content and context can be. That said, once a learner understands the proper usage of context, information can be derived more accurately from differing perspectives. BeED understands the importance of this and applies the same theory to all our Learning Experiences. Discover effective learning at www.beedtheworld.com


1 “Middle Years Programme.” International Baccalaureate®. International Baccalaureate Organization, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
2 “India Unveils the World’s Largest Solar Power Plant.” Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera News and Agencies, 30 Nov. 2016. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
3 Sticht, Tom. “Learning Theories – Functional Context.” Instructional Design. Innovative Learning, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
4 Martin, Laura. “Learning: Theory and Practice.” ASTC. Association of Science – Technology Centers Incorporated, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
5 Quinn, Clark. “Understanding the Importance of Context in Your Learning Solutions.” Litmos. Callidus Cloud, 09 Mar. 2016. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.

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