The New Lexicon Of Edtech

Want to join the edtech revolution? First you’ve got to learn to talk the talk.

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]

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