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Saturday, August 30, 2008

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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