Content (happy) with Content (stuff)?

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I have been really struggling with the work of  #rhizo15 this week. Dave has challenged us to look at content and to try to make sense of how we view content in learning (at least, that’s what I understood about the challenge).

In a lot of ways, this week’s challenge has given me a headache AND crystallized nagging concerns I have been having about my experience with the rhizome since we started. I have always enjoyed the process of learning and have mostly considered that experience more valuable than any of the content around which learning experiences I have engaged in have been organized. That said, although I thoroughly embraced so many things I learned (human anatomy and neuroscience and Latin and film history), I was left with more than process. In the end (or at least the end so far), I was left knowing more stuff. Is it fair to say, I knew more content?

I worry that I had begun to create an algorithm, which, loosely translated reads: process good; content bad. And I have found this really troubling.

Then, tonight, I was “learning.” Reading some critical analysis of MOOC research written by Stephen Downes.  Then, I read some work on multimodal tutorials by Ian O’Bryne. Then, I stumbled onto Laura Gibbs’ Myth-Folklore Un-Textbook.

As each link brought more and more amazing work and thoughts to me, I had an insight: the content of what I was learning was getting built through/with/in the wake of the process of learning I was engaged in.

For now, at least, the headache is gone.

4 thoughts on “Content (happy) with Content (stuff)?

  1. Gerald, do we take content itself to be a kind of lump of facts assembled into a topic? But content was once alive, creative, decided, refuted and generally a mess that became contained at one moment into an orderly one’ness that has no reason to stay fixed in place. As much as I plan ahead my mind continually scrambles things–picks, puts back, fumbles and orders things as much by forgetting as by attraction.
    Thinking about content this week has made me see it as alive by some magic I’m guessing at. Our mind uses it somehow–maybe by reassembly?

    1. Scott, your point is a great one. We can imagine that at one point something that we now “teach” as “content,” such as calculus or the periodic table, was product of incredible discovery and excitement. Maybe, we should be asking the question: what causes discovery to become content? what is the process by which excitement becomes ossified?

  2. Hi Gerald – glad your headache’s gone. For me, the point is this: “Is it fair to say, I knew more content?”. Yes – you, a person – knew more. You made it your own. There’s a sentence I once read in a paper about Aristotle that said something to the effect that at least once in one’s life one should put down the secondary literature and think about it for oneself – to “make it one’s own”.

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