Responding to my article, Not Unit 5!, Rob Lewis posted a great question that links to a current thread on the dogme discussion group.

Responding to my article, Not Unit 5!, Rob Lewis posted a great question that links to a current thread on the dogme discussion group

Rob asked what my own thoughts were on the idea of a dogme coursebook. Well, it would need to 'fit' with some of the principles that lie at the heart of dogme: the idea that learning is locally situated, for example, and co-constructed by the people in the room.

Can a coursebook be locally situated – rooted in the lives of the participants and the context in which they live? Yes, in theory – although the economies of scale involved in traditional print publishing make this impractical in all but the largest ‘local’ (as opposed to global) markets. 

E-publishing suggests a potential alternative, as different versions could be tailored to local markets – a framework coursebook might even be franchised to local publishers who would supply the content. But it would have to be very local to come close to the reality of an unplugged classroom where interaction is rooted in (but not confined to) the lives of the people in the room.

Can a coursebook support co-constructed learning – the idea that we create knowledge together, rather it being delivered by a teacher (often working in tandem with a coursebook)? Yes, in principle. But it would almost need to 'unmake' itself as the units went by, perhaps starting with a unit of conventional coursebook material and then gradually showing how the participants might start to create their own content. The last unit would be completely blank! 

If we’re changing the paradigm, however, why would we still want to think in terms of units? Surely we need some other model to capture the flow of language and content in an unplugged class? And aren’t e-portfolios – or their paper equivalents, depending on resources – a more fruitful avenue to explore?

Finally, as well as embodying ideas about teaching and learning, coursebooks represent a business model. The idea of selling something that had increasingly less content from unit to unit, page to page, could be a very hard 'sell' indeed.

Ultimately, it strikes me that a dogme 'coursebook' would be so different to a regular coursebook as to render the term meaningless. Interestingly – and people are still posting to the dogme group as I write this – the discussion there seems to have come full circle, too. No one can quite 'see' it.

I know how they feel. Because the dogme 'coursebook' as I envisage it would gently, gradually but inevitably self-destruct.

What do people here think? Can you 'see' a dogme coursebook? And if so, what does it look like?

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