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Educational Buzzwords

There will always be the latest pedagogical or technological trend in education. Whether it’s research-based or just the latest fad, educational buzzwords crop up at every education conference or professional development session.

Here are five educational buzzwords that I think have outlived their usefulness. It’s not that the core concepts themselves are bad, but rather that the term has been overused, overhyped, or we’ve just simply moved on.

Student-centered

Sage on the stage or guide on the side? There is very little chance that you’re still gainfully employed in an educational institution if you’ve never considered whether your learning activities revolve around students. After all, if we were in it for the glory, there are hundreds of other career paths better for this than teaching.

Reason it’s losing its buzz? Oversaturation. Every learning activity should be student-centered, so kill the buzzword.

21st century learning skills

This might have sounded cool in the 1990s, but newsflash, we’re several years into the 21st century! I’m all for teaching digital citizenship and innovation – but let’s be honest, these are just essential life skills, and we happen to be living in the 21st century.

Reason it’s losing its buzz? Outdated. Awesome skills, outdated title.

Blogs

Am I nuts? I work for a company called Edublogs and I think “blogs” are outdated?

But think about it. A blog, the truncated version of weblog, was once a simple tool designed to let people post text entries. Now blogging platforms have evolved for artists to share their artwork, businesses to sell their products, publishers to embed a wide variety of media.

Sure, you can continue to post blog entries for showcasing your writing, but the platforms themselves have grown to offer a much richer experience.

Reason it’s losing its buzz? Relevancy. Google searches for this term peaked in 2009. Interestingly enough, search data for the terms Edublogs and WordPress (the platform we’re built on) continue to grow year after year.

Web 2.0

Almost every technology conference I presented at early in my teaching career focused on some sort of Web 2.0 tools. It was an exciting time – no longer were websites static html files that only offered a one way informational experience. With the advent of Web 2.0, we suddenly were exposed to interactive websites that hinted at the earliest forms of gamification in education.

But what was supposed to happen after this iteration of websites. Web 3.0? Yeah, some people went there. But it’s not like your latest iPhone 6. There was no clear differentiator between version numbers of the web. Other people still call just about everything “Web 2.0.”

Reason it’s losing its buzz? Outdated. The height of Web 2.0 was in 2007, and the web has continued to evolve in radical ways ever since the invention of the internet (Thanks, Al Gore!) Website creators will always be looking for new ways to innovate, even if we don’t have a name for it.

ePortfolios

Yup, lots of words had e- i- and cyber- as added as prefixes a couple of decades ago. Some of the terms, such as email, ecommerce, and all of the Apple products, stuck around. Others have gone by the wayside.

Reason it’s losing its buzz? Showcasing student work is awesome, but I would argue that ePortfolios have become the standard over physical portfolios. Everything is electronic, so let’s just drop the e.

What do you think? Are these words outdated in educational jargon, or do they still serve a purpose? Are there other educational buzzwords you’d be happy to see disappear from our lexicon?

About Dan Leeman

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21 Comments

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  1. Unfortunately not everyone is familiar with these “buzzwords” or what they entail. Furthermore, some are just getting aquainted with them from a digital perspective due to various factors so to write them off could be detremental, besides they contain some good and very useful ideas, you just have to update the application of them :).

  2. You forgot “rigor.” Why? It has been used so much and in such a vague and general way, mainly in defense of Common Core, that it has lost any meaning in education discussions. It has “rigor” so it must be good.

  3. I was surprised that Portfolios were once called ePortfolios and that people still call the internet web 2.0.

  4. I have to agree with the web 2.0 stuff. I didn’t even know that people still call it “web 2.0” when there has been so many changes.

  5. While your arguments might hold true for connected educators who are actively involved with the internet and other connected educators, it may be less true for a majority of educators who are less inclined or connected. Many educators are still entrenched in 19th & 20th century methodologies. Direct instruction and lectures still dominate many lessons. These methods direct the content supplied by the teacher without regard to student centered learning. Content is still king for many. Problem and project-based learning is not yet the norm. Self directed learning for PD is still unheard of in many faculty rooms. It may be a little premature to drop these “buzzwords” which are still unfamiliar in practice to many educators. Thanks.

  6. I am glad to be here as a new blogger and i will be glad to share something in this new wold of knowledge. As a teacher, i understand the task a head of me i.e. getting and sharing the relevant skills of the 21st century.

  7. I certainly agree with getting rid of 21st-Century learning skills. For those born in the 21st-century, why make the distinction? For those not born in the 21st-century, please join us – we’ve been here awhile. If anything, differentiating between “new” skills and “old” skills makes it more difficult to teach those who are hesitant to use the “new” skills in the first place.

    Web 2.0 has certainly run it’s course as well. The tools that once warranted this title have now become commonplace, and a numeric label does not really add necessary information. One now expects the web to be interactive, not passive

    Isn’t all learning student-centered? If I’m the one learning (the student) then I would hope I was at the center of what was going on. Otherwise, I’m probably not learning.

    Yes, portfolios should be sufficient to cover everything, both print and electronic. When putting together a portfolio for modern students, you are going to encounter both student work in both formats.

    Perhaps you are right about blogs, but I can’t think of a better term. Any suggestions?

    • Gaetan Hammond
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    • Sounds like we have similar thoughts!

      I use the term blogs daily, so it’s probably not going anywhere quite yet. But I do find myself using the name of the platform quite frequently, whether talking about an Edublogs site or a WordPress site.

  8. When I go to conferences I often play eduspeak bingo. Make a bingo card and fill in your favorite eduspeak words. Play alone or with your friends. It does make the conference go faster, and you do have to pay attention.

    • Hahaha, that’s a great idea!

  9. Best information for me…. I’m newbie and I Need more Information for blogging… Thanks 🙂

  10. Oh dear, I’m still using 4 out of 5 of those, not because they’re buzzwords but because they actually work in education.

    There are quite a few other buzzwords I’d be glad never ever ever to hear again — because they DON’T! “Standard tests”, “Common core” are the first two that spring to mind, with iPad next.

    • Hi Tom,

      Good points. We’re just identifying the words themselves, rather than the concepts. That’s a whole other can of worms 🙂

  11. I think we should thank person for your wonderful educational buzzword, thank you so much 🙂

  12. thank you also for your support

    • highschoolstory
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  13. we should thank person for this wonderful 5 educational buzzwords thank you juliandry

  14. Let’s not forget rigor and engage .

    • For sure! Plenty of words that are overused.

  15. Thank you! I thoroughly agree. I just mentioned that education is all about the buzzword (among other non-teaching things) in my latest blog post.

    • Hi Cyndi,

      Do you have a link to that latest blog post?

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