EdSurge: The New Lexicon Of Edtech

No revolution can take place unless the upstarts speak the same dialect. Even though education has existed for eons, edtech is just getting started. To help juice the insurgency, EdSurge is working on a handy-dandy guide to edtech phraseology. (And here's the first word: "edtech": the fusion of education-technology. But please: leave out the hyphen!

We're not just making this stuff up: Karen Cator, director of the office of educational technology, has helped lay out some terminology. Also important has been work by the Innosight Institute, a non-profit co-founded by Michael B. Horn and Jason Hwang, who worked with Harvard University's Clayton Christensen to write one of the manifestos of the edtech movement, Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change The Way The World Learns. More recently, Heather Clayton Staker of the Innosight Institute penned a paper on the "Rise of K-12 Blended Learning," with some definitions.

Consider this the Berlitz-like lexicon for the coming disruptions in education. These terms frequently modify "learning" or "school." Say what you mean—and mean what you say:

Blended: When a student learns partly at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and partly through online delivered content, with some student control over the time, place, path, and/or pace.

Here are subcategories of "blended learning." Heather Staker offers more detail here.

Face-to-Face Driver: the teacher is in charge and directs students to do some online learning to supplement what they're learning in class.

Rotation: students rotate on a fixed schedule from time with computers, to 1:1 time with a teacher or traditional classroom experiences, essentially half-way between a traditional classroom and an entirely virtual experience.

Flex: students get most of their instruction online and teachers provide back up support. Online Lab: students exclusively study online but do so within a brick and mortar school.

Self-Blend: mix it up yourself. When students opt to do some online learning such as taking an online class that their traditional school doesn’t offer.

Online Driver: students are almost entirely online—and working outside of the traditional brick & mortar school.

Individualized: Kids see the same buckets of content but they move through them at their own pace.

Differentiated: Kids see the same buckets of content but it's presented in different ways (from lectures, to quizzes and games, to inquiry-based projects, to you-name-it).

Personalized: Kids experience both common buckets of content, delivered in a variety of ways at their own pace—in addition to information that may be uniquely interesting to them.Hybrid: A car that uses gas and an electric battery.

GODZILLA V. MOTHRA? OK, REALLY, iPAD V. KINDLE: The classroom is one of next battlegrounds for hardware platforms vying for users—and that should be just dandy for schools and edtech entrepreneurs. Amazon released its first color tablet today. Apple has rounded up 10,000 first-gen iPads, tuned them up and handed them out to Teach for America. At last week's Clinton Global Initiative, Microsoft rolled out a three-year program to bring discounted broadband, PCs and Microsoft software to 1 million low-income American children. And did we mention Chromebooks?

The good news is that kicking up that dust means more educators should have devices that glow when you press the "on" switch. That should make life far easier for edtech entrepreneurs building new software solutions for teachers & schools. With more platforms come more choices for developers. Based on the apps we see nowadays though, it's iGodzilla that rules Edu-Tokyo.

GOING GOOD: Farb Nivi of Grockit, entrepreneur and startup-mentor extraordinare, announced "Grockit for Good," what he calls a "fundamental shift" in its business model. For every premium account it sells, Grockit will provide a year of free access to the Grockit Academy (grades 7-12) for an underserved youth. The likes of KIPP, High Achievement, TLABS and others and footing the bill. Smart move to ramp usage and burnish the brand.

[Image: Flickr user SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget]

EdSurge is a community watering hole and resource for those engaged in the emerging eco-system of education technology. Sign up for their weekly newsletter here.

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  • Tony Pascoe

    This lexicon of terms is great!  I think it would be really beneficial to have
    a website dedicated to all these terms and many others like what does “open
    source” mean in laymen’s terms?  My only
    comment would be – does this growing jargon ostracize teachers trying to
    integrate technology?  It is frustrating
    to try and build a foundation of knowledge in technology when terms remain
    almost as dynamic as technology itself. 
    I am concerned that even someone interested in “edtech” like myself, will
    soon be lost in a mess of technical terms that I cannot understand.  Thoughts? 
    Agree or disagree?