Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Context is King

Imagine this:
• 288,355 books published in 2009 in the US alone, as compared to 51,000 books 25 years ago.
• 3-8 years is the average length of time a person stays on the job.
• 320 million Google searches are done each day.
• 34,560 hours (1,440 days:4years) of videos published in YouTube per day.
• 2.5 billion text messages sent out each day in the US alone.
• 5 million Tweets sent in a day, globally.
• 22% at a compounded rate through 2013 is the expected growth of eLearning.

Information Overload Stats (source:
No one is immune to content and information overload.

Admittedly, the technologies make us more efficient, increase our speed of interaction, and help us to be more productive. Technologies also aid learners to learn openly and freely with the abundance of content. For example, MIT alone has published over 10,000 free online courses ( and boasts of over 1 million content users. Definitely, content is abundant.

On the other hand, there are critics who say “we need to provide for more reflections” and not to be swept away with overdependence on technology (Sherry Turkle, 2010). David Brooks challenges us by saying that maybe Google is making idiots out of us.

Ruth Clark (2010), a leading thought leader in instructional design, has forewarned us about cognitive overload. We are now beyond the problem of cognitive overload. We are now in content overwhelmed level.

With the massive information and content growth and the speed of information change, the next generation challenge is not content but rather how to make sense, how to discover, and how to apply the ideas from the content. In essence, how to find the context becomes more important. This is known as Contextual Learning – a learning that connects content with what the learners already know and benefit from its immediate usefulness. It is not the amount of information that we provide learners that is important. It is what is meaningful and immediately useful to impact their performance.

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

1 comment:

  1. This is so very true about information overload, it almost makes me think that a field like Knowledge Management, which is primarily about disseminating and sharing knowledge, might soon be obsolete. Perhaps subjects like design thinking and L&D, where the emphasis is on curating, sense-making, applying knowledge, contextualizing knowledge may have more relevance. Clearly it is no longer so much about quantity of information but quality.


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