Eduspeak – The native tongue of the curriculum designer

I was watching a presentation by a colleague titled The Ps Framework:  Mapping the landscape for the PLEs@CQUni project.  One of the presenters, Jocene Vallack read aloud a post she had made to her weblog on the topic.  The post was in relation to management and control of technology and how PLEs can empower the user to take control of their learning technology requirements.  At least this is my interpretation of her comments.  Please correct me Jocene if I got it wrong. 🙂

I’d like to draw attention to the following passage from Jocene’s weblog post:

Hmm. The power of the nerd. Interesting. Why else would they actually want to engage with all that code – all those acronyms?! They block us out with them, make us feel isolated, inadequate until it gets so bad that you just can’t…can’t hear them ask again- yet again – “ar sorry, don’t you know what that means?”…and so you smile glibly, almost convincingly, and just nod in acknowledgement to some string of consonants, as your brain starts thrashing through the alphabet, heading for a crash. Don’t send that error report again today. How much stupidity can one admit to at one time! Lots – I’m brave – but not that much!

As someone with a technologist background (translated:  nerd), this sense of inadequacy seemed foreign to me.  I mean, I have been immersed in a sea of acronyms and technobabble since my teens and it has never been a problem.  Then something twigged in the back of my mind – perhaps this feeling is not so foreign after all.

As an early career curriculum designer, one of the major barriers I have had to grapple with has been education speak now referred to as eduspeak.  Interestingly, the eduspeak link I found after I coined the term.  Seems I am not alone.  🙂  I read it, I hear it, but often do not understand it.  At times it can be intimidating and can make me feel like a dill.  If I see/hear the word cognition (and derivatives) one more time in an educational description, I think I’ll lose my mind – loss of cognition.

Based on the assumption that I am not too much different to the average joe-academic, am I not alone in this perpetual state of confusion and bewilderment around eduspeak?  How exposed are academics to this language by curriculum designers (now known as edunerds – pronounced ed-u-nerds)?  Do they soften the language as many (but not all) technonerds do?  Do they soften it better than technonerds?  Fellow Curriculum Designers, please share your experiences.

In any case, if I am going to be able to walk the walk, I need to be able to talk the talk.  To help myself overcome this barrier and become an edunerd, I have decided to generate a list of education buzzwords that I have heard both at my place of work and my recent attendence at ASCILITE 2008.  Please feel free to add any words of your own to my list as comments to this post.  Each day, I will research one of these terms and write a blog post.  The rules are that I must take no longer than 30 minutes to research and write my blog post, even if its incomplete.  I still have papers to push around my desk.  If I get it wrong, or if someone provides feedback to help improve my definition, I’ll re-write it once again spending no longer than 30 minutes.  While there are probably millions of online definitions for these terms, this process is more about my reflection on what they mean, but if they help others, so be it.

Following is an initial list of eduspeak buzzwords.  As previously mentioned, please add comments on any other terms that could be added to this list.  I’ll do my best.

Authentic Apprenticeship
Authentic Learning
Blended Learning
Cognitive Load
Community of Practice
Constructive Alignment
Curriculum Design
Educational Technologist
Instructional Design
Learning Design
Learning Home/Learning Space
Learning Management System
Learning Model
Learning Objects
Mobile Learning
Personal Learning Environments
Social Software/Web 2
Surface Learning
Transformative Learning

So I do feel for you Jocene.  🙂  In the meantime, I guess I can always make use of services such as the Educational Jargon Generator.  I’d better start on my “re-contextualised technology-enhanced critical thinking”. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Eduspeak – The native tongue of the curriculum designer

Add yours

  1. I found an article ( which provides a very negative perspective on eduspeak. Thought I would add it to the discussion for interest. Not sure it directly relates exactly to the Australian higher-ed sector, but interesting perspectives nonetheless.

    It is from an North American context and seems to focus more on childhood rather than adulthood education. There are also instances cited that refer to political correctness changes in language.

    Some grim perspectives:

    “Ryerson Review of Journalism reporter Quinn Underhill contends that Eduspeak, ‘the language used to cloud rather than explain an issue, is the mother tongue of most educators.’ Sue-Ann Levy, a reporter for the Toronto Sun who used to cover education topics, says that high-priced education bureaucrats would use this ‘bureaucratese’ or Eduspeak in reports, at board meetings with the public or parents, and in media interviews. ‘I saw its use not just as a means of hiding the truth but as a way of showing superiority over those not in the education world, a way of saying we-know-best. It was certainly used to intimidate parents, and the media, so they wouldn’t ask too many questions.”

    A comment on the history of eduspeak:

    “Although buzzwords come and go, jargon has been around a long time, making its recognition near impossible. According to University of Victoria, British Columbia, education professor Thomas Fleming, the arrival of ‘bafflegab’ began decades ago as part of a strategy among educators, academics, and bureaucrats to gain professional status. But the author of Left Back: A Century of Battles over School Reform, educational historian Diane Ravitch, says that Eduspeak dates back nearly a century to a coterie of academics known as ‘educational engineers’ who sought to revolutionize schools by turning education into a science.”

    This appears to be a highly contentious issue indeed.

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