On the Concept of Context

Nina Bonderup Dohn, Stig Børsen Hansen, Søren Harnow Klausen, Education Sciences, Aug 03, 2018
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This article approaches the definition of 'context' from a functionalist perspective. "We specify the role a context is supposed to play, while leaving open what might occupy this role." On the one hand, "context has a supplementary role: It is brought in, or added to, the understanding of a phenomenon—the focal object—that would not have been adequately understood had it been considered in isolation." And on the other hand, "context is determined relative to the focal object." That is, it "is not a neutral layout of things or properties near the focal object, nor is it a set of circumstances or an indefinite 'background'." There's an interesting discussion on the 'cost' of conext befor the article reverts to a (lazy) typology of context. The authors wrap up with a discussion of context in relation to knowledge transfer. Overall I appreciate the functionalist perspective but would have preferred a deeper discussion of its implication to educational theory.

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