This blog post was written by Krista Moroder, Professional Development Manager at Digital Promise and ISTE Young Educator Network LeaderISTE is leading the theme Leadership for Change during Connected Educator Month.

I still remember the first time I held a voluntary workshop on Google Docs for a staff of 100 teachers. I called it “10 Ways to Use Google Docs in Your Classroom”.

wordsFive people showed up.

A week later, I was eating lunch in the staff lounge and heard a colleague say, “They always have an excuse for not turning their work in. They forgot to bring it home, they lost their flash drive, their printer wasn’t working, yada yada”.

I immediately piped up: “You know, have you thought about using Google Docs? Their work is stored online, so they can access it from anywhere”.

“OH! That’s great! Can you show me?”.

A week later, I held another workshop. I called it “No Excuses: Anytime, Anywhere Access to Student Work (For You & Them!)”.

So many people showed up that we ended up spilling into another computer lab.

I learned a valuable lesson that day: words matter.

In schools all over the nation, “technology coaches” are being hired, “technology workshops” are being held, and classrooms are getting “flipped” and “blended”. Every time we find a way to be more efficient or effective, we come up with a new acronym or word for it. Instead of “connecting with other educators”, we build a “PLN.” Instead of “giving students access to resources,” we “go 1:1 with a blended learning approach.”

Can we please stop?

I worry sometimes that we’ve become so exclusive with our language that we are pushing people out of the conversations they should be a part of. Do parents know what we are talking about when we use this jargon? Do WE even know what we are talking about anymore?

Think for a second about how much the world has changed since the rise of the Internet. Technology has completely transformed the way that businesses operate, and yet, they don’t find a need to use the jargon we’ve created for the way learning now happens.

  • When the marketing head of a company started connecting with others through LinkedIn, he didn’t say he was “building a PLN.” He was connecting with others.

  • When the car mechanic wanted to learn a new system, she didn’t say she was “exploring OERs through a blended, flipped approach.” She was using her resources.

Technology was only a tool to make what they were trying to do more efficient and more effective. We need to start viewing technology in education with the exact same perspective, and nothing more.

Imagine what would happen if we stopped using all of the jargon that we’ve created.

Instead of saying this…

..we could say this!

“Yay, my students all have digital portfolios this year!”

“Yay, my students show evidence of their learning!”

“I spent a lot of time this summer helping other teachers get started in our learning management system.”

“I spent a lot of time this summer helping other teachers organize their resources more effectively.”

“I use clickers and surveys in my class.”

“I collect feedback really fast in my class, so I know immediately when I need to re-teach something!”

“I’ve really worked on making my classroom paperless and digital this year; my students use cloud collaboration software in my class.”

“My students can access their work from anywhere and can work together on the same files.”

“I’m working on flipping my classroom and using a blended learning approach this year with OERs.”

“I’m working on giving my students better access to learning resources this year.”

“We’re doing a lot with makerspaces and project-based learning this year.”

“Our students create things.”

“I can’t wait for this #edchat with my PLN!”

“I can’t wait to connect with other people who have similar goals to me.”

“I’m trying to put all of my resources in a learning management system this year.”

“I’m trying to give my students 24/7 access to my classroom so they can go at their own pace.”

“I want my students to have 21st-century skills and be college and career ready.”

“I want my students to have the skills they need NOW, in today’s world.”

Our teachers became teachers to teach. Let’s respect that and focus back on what they do every day in their classrooms. Let’s stop giving workshops on “Google Docs” or “Flipped Classrooms.” Instead, let’s give workshops on “More Efficient Ways to Collaborate with Students” or “More Effective Ways to Deliver Direct Content.”

 Let’s stop talking about technology and start talking about learning.


About Krista Moroder

Krista Moroder

Krista Moroder is currently the Professional Development Manager at the Congressionally-authorized nonprofit Digital Promise, and supports eight schools across the country on a 1:1 implementation and documentation project. Krista has also worked on a micro-credentialing initiative for teacher professional development, as an education technology consultant and conference speaker, as a district instructional technology coordinator, and as an English and video production teacher. After developing the Ed Tech Challenge, a personalized professional development framework, Krista was selected as the 2013 ISTE Young Educator of the Year. Krista was also recruited to serve as an advisor for multiple organizations, including ISTE, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and the Google in Education team. Her double life has included designing websites, photography & videography, theater technical work, and archery. Say hi on Twitter! @kristamoroder

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