"The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood"(oxford dictionary,2013).
To me context means the many pieces that make up the environment in order to give meaning and purpose to the learning, these pieces are the 'circumstances' that help to facilitate the moment when the light bulb comes on! As a facilitator it is our job to provide the necessary pieces of context in order for our learners to get the whole picture.
I explored my learning environment for this activity, mind- mapped the influences and applied this to the systems approach example from the module. See the illustration below;
Mind map and systems approach
I considered and reflected on my own teaching context to enhance the way I facilitate learning and the many external factors that influence it. During this process I thought back to the 'dimensions of flexibility' grid (Collis and Moonen, 2004) in an earlier blog post, see link, flexible learning and how there are many fixed and flexible factors when considering learning context. For example in terms of delivery and logistics these are fairly fixed to work around course content and class space, the context can be flexible and be created by the facilitator and/or the learners.
I create the learning context by use of stories, my own and others in the group, and I realise that I use many different examples to explain or demonstrate a point. Much of the learning material that we use is based on travel and tourism scenario's, so that even if the learner's have limited experience they start to get a sense of the context that they will be working in.
Story telling can have the added effect of creating images in their minds especially if it is related to their own travel experiences.
After a recent teaching session with an observer in the class I realised that creating the right environment during each session is very important, particularly if the class configuration is a challenge and only 14 of the usual 20 learners show up and spread themselves across a long narrow space. This creates challenges if the learners are required to speak to the whole class. Class set-up can sometimes be forgotten as an important way of creating a conducive contextual learning environment.
Having explored my own teaching context using the system approach and mind- map I can see there are always many more ways to enhance the way I facilitate learning, one of the areas that I will be focusing on will be by creating a more stimulating class environment within a challenging class room,one where there is opportunity for learners to work in different groups, pairs and individually.
Casey, J. & Wilson, P. (2005). A practical guide to providing flexible learning in further and higher education.