I don’t really think that content is either a journey to perfection or power. I feel like it’s too broad a category of thing for that.

I don’t see myself as a content-phile. My first edtech project, back in 1997, was getting students to produce their own content on the web as part of composition and history classes, and that question of how to have students create materials that are both the products of and tools for their own learning has been central to my work ever since.

“Content” is really just conversation minus context. And while I think that makes it tempting to say, well “content is killing conversation!” it’s not really like that, because all conversation lacks some context, and probably suffers from that. Without some common touchpoints, I can’t really communicate anything to you. Assuming we haven’t been communicating for eternity that means in order to understand one another we’re going to have to consume some story-up-to-now pieces. For instance, I’d love to discuss this using Jakobson’s functional model of communication, and maybe pull in some of the history of reading, but if we’re going to do that then you’re going to need to read some content. Same with me, if you want to tap into your own models.

The ability to do that — to jump into conversations that we have not been a part of by reading treatments that make ideas accessible to newcomers — is a great enhancer of conversation, and multiplies the effect a teacher and a student can have on one another.

It seems to me that your problem isn’t content at all, but the idea that we must all speak to one model, because we have one textbook, and that’s the playing field we’ve drawn. No room for the teacher to lend their voice. No room for the student to bring in their experience. If that’s what you’re saying, I’m with you on that, more or less. That’s a piece of what I’m trying to impact by looking at Choral Explanations, for example, which is a simple hack to textbookism that could have a lot of benefit. (I’ve also taught content-less courses with very mixed results, which is part of the reason I’m interested in simple hacks for teachers now).