Bring Your Own Context: Where We Are Matters

by EdConteXts Facilitators*

Emerging academic technologies and how they allow learning and teaching across borders are all the rage. Strangely, discourses about such phenomena as open online learning/teaching usually ignore the fundamental fact that those phenomena are cross-border, cross-context, cross-cultural. It is not just the hype in the media and the grand and often false promises in the marketing of emerging modes of cross-border education that disregard the complexity of cross-border education. Even the most informed educators (in their own contexts) seem to often forget that the many different contexts from which participants and stakeholders come are not just different from each other but also diverse from within, that contextual differences and complexities need to temper our ambitions, that effective teaching and learning cannot be defined in universal terms.

In response, an increasing number of educators, scholars/writers, and other stakeholders of emerging academic technologies and pedagogies around the world are contributing their experiences, ideas, and perspectives from the ground up. Within a short period of time, the conversation that was once dominated by one-way traffic of ideas–as by the idea of education as a supply of “content”–from the few global centers to the rest of the world is quickly becoming multilateral, diverse, and rich as it spreads across the social media. The network of scholars that we are looking to create will hopefully bring together the voices of scholars, practitioners, and other stakeholders of emerging academic technologies and pedagogies from across the world. Our objective is to make visible to broader audiences what we have been writing, researching, and working on–and what we will continue to do.

This network has a small group of facilitators who aim at helpingthe rest of the community share experiences and perspectives from the ground up. We hope that the conversations on this network will serve as a source of ideas that will help anyone interested in education in and across borders better understand the subject and to help adapt and benefit from new developments. We also hope that the conversations will serve as a rich and diverse set of scholarly and educational resources for our fellow professionals (as well as their institutions and organizations) at the global centers from where new developments tend to emerge and dominate the discourse and practice of cross-border education. And we hope that together we can help both those who work at the global centers and those in the peripheries become more aware of how local, parochial, and self-serving our understanding and motivations can be unless we try to actively learn about different contexts, participants, and issues of education in a globalized world.

We highlight that we are not representative of our parts of the world: we recognize that we are the educated, English-speaking, internet-savvy lot. We try our best to bring out the local–issues, realities, challenges, complexities of teaching/learning and scholarship from the ground up–to the extent that we can. The fact that we are a bunch of critical, creative, and constructive-minded teachers and scholars from around the world does not qualify us as the “authentic voice” of our societies, cultures, and academic systems. If anything, our limitations, prepackaged with the strength of our unique and collective perspectives and experiences, will go to highlight the complexity of teaching/learning across contexts.

Most importantly, we consider our key objective as “foregrounding” the stories, ideas, and perspectives of educators from around the world whose voices are not often heard in conventional venues. We welcome you to join the conversations and share your ideas about the work of education in your context, wherever you work or come from in the world.

Clarissa Bezerra (Brazil)
Laura Czerniewicz (South Africa)
Lenandlar Singh (Guyana)
Maha Bali (Egypt)
Roopika Risam (US)
Shyam Sharma (US, Nepal)
Tanya Lau (Australia)

One thought on “Bring Your Own Context: Where We Are Matters

  1. Excited to be involved in this initiative, and the possibilities it presents for shining a light into some of the more dimly lit but exciting corners of local educational practice, opening up conversations, and building bridges across contexts -> cross-border, cross- institutions & systems (e.g. higher edk-12corporate/workplace learning contexts).

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