Midweek Musings

I’m as guilty as the next BUZZposteducator for my use of the occasional buzzword and I pack an arsenal of acronyms that could take down a small citizen’s army. But like Dan Leeman, who blogs at The Edublogger, I’ll gladly celebrate when an overhyped word meets its demise. Leeman selected five such words to focus on in his post 5 Educational Buzzwords That Are Losing Their Buzz. As promised yesterday, I thought I would respond.

Let’s start with student-centered, 21st century learning, and web 2.0. Leeman nails it when he declares this trio to be over saturated and outdated. I bet if you scanned the programs of the major educational technology conferences from the last decade for session titles and descriptions, and tossed them into a word cloud, these three would explode off the page.

So what is left when you strip away the buzz? Leeman briefly outlines the positives of the core concepts and it’s easy to see that collectively they have redefined expectations of what the learning experience should be. More and more teachers are recognizing that their students cannot be mere consumers and producers. Programs like Project Lead the Way and organizations like New Tech Network were early models for adopters of this new mindset, and now we are seeing a flurry of Genius Hour and MakerSpace programs infusing the regular classroom. On a very small scale we are seeing a real integration of personalized, constructivist learning scaling across entire schools so that students’ learning is not broken into content areas and reduced into units of study.

Blogs and ePortfolios also made Leeman’s list. It’s not a matter of the worth of publishing so much a case of what the platform really is (or is capable of being). I’d go so far as to add podcasting to this collection. Reason it’s losing its buzz? (I’m taking Leeman’s format here) When was the last time you actually saw someone recording a podcast using an iPod? It’s not to say they aren’t still out there, but they are not the norm. The bigger point is that these publishing tools have disrupted traditional student assessments. We still have a lot of work to do in this area, but the resources exist.

While I really hate the “e” that is attached to so much of what I do professionally, until we have swung the pendulum a little further, we may need to keep the distinction between the digital and the typical.  If we are going to enjoy the sweet rewards that come from trending innovations, then we may as well put up with a little buzz.

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