I moderated a couple of Edublogs/Elluminate sessions recently where I asked the participants what they thought was meant by some words and phrases that are relevant to the delivery of learning in a 24/7 e-learning context. When asked, many expressed uncertainty in the definitions that they had offered. Some of the definitions offered were also erroneous.
It was the juxtaposition of the two events that prodded me to write this post.
Technology: Its Impact on Teachers
Information Technology has had a major impact on the way learning can be delivered. It comes with its own ways of doing things, and a whole new language to describe those things. By way of example, learners can now be expected to use a web browser on a computer and obtain information using a search engine to complete a learning activity on a learning management system. That is four words of the new jargon in just one sentence.
An understandable reaction to this is to cry out “Professional Development!”, but from what I can see, most professional development activities provide very little of what is needed in this area. Readers are invited to review their own recent professional development, and comment on the accuracy of the preceding sentence. How many teachers would be happy to teach today a class of 20 students using a virtual learning environment, such as Blackboard/Elluminate, for example? Not a great proportion, from what I can see.
What To Do? What To Do?
Where teachers feel that they are not receiving adequate professional devlopment from their organisations, they can always “go it alone”, and seek help from other educators on the Internet. Fortunately, there is a lot support available, and much of it is free. This post describes a handful of resources – you can always ask those people to point you in the direction of other resources that will better suit your needs.
Twitter users use things called “hashtags” (more jargon!) to indicate “tweets” that may be of interest to other educators. You could, for example, send this tweet: “Does anybody know of any on-line conferences for new teachers? #edchat” and you will probably receive some very good answers.
Twitter using a web browser can be slightly hard work. TweetDeck from http://www.tweetdeck.com/ provides a facility to group tweets together, so that you can have a column for #edchat (educators’ chatter) and another column for #ntchat (chat for new teachers).
The Reform Symposium (http://reformsymposium.com/) is a virtual conference held by educators from around the world. It lasts for two or three days, and it is FREE! It holds conferences every few months, and covers a wide range of topics: there is something for everyone in those conferences.
Dictionary of e-Learning Jargon
There is a dictionary of e-learning jargon. It aims to explain the jargon associated with e-learning in increasingly simple terms. It is still very early in its development, and people who are interested adding to it are invited to fill in the contact form at http://philhart.edublogs.org/about/. Other readers are invited to leave comments about ambiguity of entries or new entries that they would like to see.