Lauren O’Grady Says to Drop the Buzzwords! (A point worth listening to!)

Was visiting Tony Searl's blog and a post of his pulled into some great writing from down under educator and conference presenter Lauren O'Grady (laurenogrady on twitter). 

In a recent post about the overuse of elearning and eteaching as buzzwords, Lauren says:

“We need to stop creating buzzwords such as elearning and eteaching as they are no longer relevant in our schools.  Computers and technology have been around long enough.  We need to move beyond this speciality paradigm and move into powerful learning and teaching.  I see a real danger in the titles such as elearning integrator and epotential.  Whilst we still continue to view ourselves as a speciality with specific skills we will never have integration into our classrooms where it is needed to benefit students.  I was one of these people butting my head against the wall two years ago trying to understand why people did not integrate technology,  I had to change my tact and look at it from a student perspective.  I ran student roundtables and asked them what they would like in regards to powerful learning ( I never mentioned eteaching or elearning) and our students wrote about how they learn best.  They wrote about the use of images, multimedia, web and how they can get answers but do not know how to distill or make sense of this information overload.  There was also a huge push for content creation instead of passive dictation and exercises.  These students never mentioned that they wanted more elearning in their classrooms and the teachers couldn’t help but rub it in when it wasn’t mentioned.”

My response to Laurent:

“To me, elearning denotes distance learning.  I've had people tell me that they love my application of “e-learning” and I say – “What?  I'm right there!” —

I don't like the buzzwords either — of course, I'm guilty of making up new works (teacherpreneur comes to mind) but when the buzzwords hide what we're trying to do.

I think elearning is comfortable b/c it has been around a while and people feel less threatened — it is like ‘OK, lets do elearning and webquests' – they've heard it a while and are OK with that!

The tough thing with some words like wiki and blog is that we need them to talk about a thing – about what we are doing — and I use them so much that they are not a buzzword to me.  To me, something becomes a buzzword when the “powers at be” start rubber stamping grant requests and proposals that include the “word.”  And that is what has happened with elearning at least over here!

I think it is so important to get at what we are actually doing!  I LOVE what you say about not letting buzzwords shift the focus of meeting the needs of EVERY student.

The focus is on teaching — not blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc.  It is teaching.  It is the students – every single one of them.  And creating an environment that focuses on their learning styles, gives opportunities for assessment that allows a fair range of assessment options to that students can communicate in the way they do best.  And projects that add meaning and give deep learning opportunities.

These are the things that make great learning — who cares if the e is on there or not.  I doubt anyone watching my class would call it “elearning” hopefully, just learning!”

What a powerful thing she did to have student roundtables (here in the US, we've had focus groups.)  Let me ask you a question that I'd really like to know the answer to — how many of your school improvement teams have had student roundtables where they were allowed to freely talk about how they learn?

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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1 comment

Lauren OGrady September 1, 2008 - 12:08 pm

I wasn’t so much having issues with it being used as a tag but more as a philosophy where teachers say they are “practising elearning” or they are “becoming teacher 2.0” this trivialises the whole reason we are teachers and moves the focus away from the student.

I suppose coming from a teaching background where my students were labelled migrants, hopeless,poor etc by some people I am very wary of labels and the current climate of making up new labels is worrying me.

Look through history and you can see that excellent inspirational teachers have always used whatever tools were available to them. To me that is timeless

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