Monday, November 18, 2013

5 content archetypes

Here’s something that appeals to me, mainly because it seems like a very useful taxonomy. It comes to me via Stephen Downes’ website, OLDAILY, and he has re-posted it from David Armano’s page. Armano is a marketer, but his categories are useful for those focussed on education, I think.

He writes about five content archetypes:
  • Curated
  • Co-created
  • Original
  • Consumer-generated (Downes recasts this as “student-generated”)
  • Sponsored (recast by Downes as “board or department”)
From the perspective of the disciplines, these are important ways to think about content and how it is presented, e.g. via an LMS, for students.


One of the most difficult decisions a university teacher makes is the selection of materials that are listed in the reading list for a particular course. The question here is this: Which previously-published material (scholarly writing, web-based material, mass media) does my class need to consume to achieve the learning outcomes I have set for the course? Student time is precious. The selection of readings set for the course must be precise and on topic. If tangential material is included, make sure that students know it isn’t essential reading for the course.


Learning is a constructivist activity, even in the positivist disciplines. The co-creation of content – through projects, online discussions, group work, or even peer mentoring – engages students in the act of learning.


Sometimes, a teacher just has to write new material to get the point across.


In completing formative and summative tasks, students learn. No argument there.


University learning happens under the umbrella of the institution, and at times, the institution has announcements. Class management requires announcements. This too is content.

These categories of information can, I think, help in thinking through how an LMS site might be organized.

1 comment:

  1. Selection of materials for the reading list of a course need not be that hard. After you exclude the hard to get, expensive and unreadable stuff, there is not that much left to choose from. Recently I signed up for an introductory course, preparatory to a masters of distance education, by distance education. You would assume that such a course, offered world-wide, would have reading materials which were readily available, but they were not. One link to an on-line resource at the same university did not work at all. Another reference was to the wrong edition of a paper book. An e-book had a format I simply could not read on screen. Previous courses I have done on teaching had absurdly long reading lists, where it was a relief that most of the material was inaccessible. In designing a course please check the reading materials are actually available (and tutors re-check just before the course starts). Student generated material I assume is part of any course. After the obligatory ice-breaker, where you get everyone to introduce themselves, a common question is to ask participants to hunt up material. With international students some of the results can be very interesting: documents I would never have found, because they are in other languages.