128 physical manifestations of disease ...

Ok, the title is probably not worded very precisely but it's in the right ballpark. During the meeting today, one of the people from the University of Michigan mentioned that there are only 128 symptoms (is this the right word) a patient can present, it was a talk about health faculties sharing OERs. This had never occurred to me, but, in my defence, I had never ever even thought about it.

What on earth does this have to do with Siyavula? Well if you based your medical curriculum on case-based learning then the educational resources have a very well-defined tagging scheme.

In the school context in South Africa I would love such a precise scheme to be developed. The question I keep asking is how many contexts do I need to develop material for? We have 11 languages, extremely rural and urban populations, cultural divides and more.

I find this situation frustrating at times because no matter what resource you develop someone will be able to develop an ad-hoc context for which it is inappropriate. The real problem is the "ad-hoc" bit. If someone pinned down firmly the correct or comprehensive metadata to describe our contexts then you could at least say precisely which context it was appropriate for. At the moment the situation is such that some expert will declare any resource inappropriate for some context defined according to their own context-metric. This usually derails the discussion of the benefits of the material in other contexts, detracting from real progress in any context.

We're playing on a multi-dimensional field with many sets of moving goal-posts. By defining our contexts accurately we would stop the goal-posts moving, we'd still have a multi-dimensional field with many sets of posts but they'd be stationary. In a diverse place like South Africa we should embrace the multi-dimensional nature but agree on the rules to benefit all.


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