Context As Part Of The Curriculum

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Dear WCIU Colleagues and Friends,

One of our key words in our mission statement, and in our Values is the word "innovation". It can be an over used word. Every organization and program, and every University, wants to be innovative.

In the early days of WCIU, forty years ago, "distance education" was still a major innovation in its own right. Today almost every University is moving in that direction in some way.

In this post I want to suggest an aspect of innovation, related to being a distance university and related also to the idea of developing our growth around multiple hubs globally in the future.

I believe that one of the more innovative ideas that we, and other universities, are embracing is:

Context is part of the curriculum.

What this means is that the location, language, culture, sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and hands on work in which a WCIU student pursues our MA in International Development, is just as much a part of the curriculum as any of the readings, assignments, or Zoom sessions with others.

Learning to "read" the entire curriculum, or better, learning to learn from the readings and the context, is part of the essential value of a distance education.

In fact, it is fair to say that residential degree programs are actually "distance based": they require that the student and curriculum are distant from the context of the student's work!

But what we normally call "distance" programs are actually near to and embedded within the contexts that we all aim to serve.

Seeing the context as part of the curriculum means we also see distance in a different light.

This is why more and more the term "distributed learning" is being used.

Whatever word we use, seeing context as part of the curriculum changes everything!

Learning together...

Kevin Higgins

President