Tessmer & Richey, “The Role of Context in Learning and Instructional Design”

Tessmer & Richey begin their discussion by pointing out that “instructional design models contain little guidance about how to accommodate contextual elements to improve learning and transfer” (85). I was surprised to hear that this was true in 1997. Is it still true today?
    On the whole, I found both thought-provoking and helpful the authors’ proposed “general model for contextual analysis for instructional design,” which “identifies contextual factors to be investigated, delineates contextual tools to explore these factors, and suggests a general approach to utilizing this information for instructional design” (111). Tessmer & Richey note, however, that the “central assumption behind the model is that there are three contexts that must be investigated (and designed) for successful instructional development: the orienting, instructional, and transfer contexts” (111).
    One of the particular points I found fascinating was the notion of “content culture” (98). With the growth of online learning communities in the years since this article was published, should this notion be considered in a different light? If so, is a very different light? What differences and similarities might there be between a traditional “content culture” setting (i.e. in a physical classroom) and one that exists online—if you can even demarcate such a thing online in the first place, that is?


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