People liked my Devil’s Dictionary of Educational Technology post so much that I’ll return the favor by offering another installment here.
In fact, my cruel and inhumane post inspired a great deal of creative writing by commentators. I’ve included many of them here, so please consider this a collective act of acerbic redefinition. I thank you all for your contributions.
Bierce with friend.
It occurs to me that not every reader knows Ambrose Bierce‘s acidic little book or its imitators. The Devil’s Dictionary (1906) is a lexicon of critical, sarcastic, and hilarious redefinitions for words in American English. Here are a few samples:
RECREATION, n. A particular kind of dejection to relieve a general fatigue.
DISTANCE, n. The only thing that the rich are willing for the poor to call theirs, and keep.
PROOF, n. Evidence having a shade more of plausibility than of unlikelihood.
WAR, n. A by-product of the arts of peace. The most menacing political condition is a period of international amity.
Read more and enjoy. (Also, watch this if you haven’t; he’s a superb short story writer)
Now, on with more educational technology definitions. I’ve included fine ones submitted by readers in quotation marks and with attributions. I’ve also cited people who suggested terms for me to curdle.
Active learning , n. 1.The opposite of obedience lessons.
2. The strange idea that learning and learners should not be as passive as the dead. Like the dead, active learning is a source of wonder and dread to some of the living. (thanks to Jeremiah Parry-Hill for the nudge)
Analytics, n. pl. “The use of numbers to confirm existing prejudices, and the design of complex systems to generate these numbers.” (by David Kernohan)
Asynchronous, adj. The delightful state of being able to engage with someone online without their seeing you, while allowing you to make a sandwich.
Badges, n. pl. The curious conceit that since nobody likes transcripts or degrees, the best thing to do is to shrink them into children’s sizes that nobody recognizes. (see Open Badges)
Best practice, n. “An educational approach that someone heard worked well somewhere. See also ‘transformative,’ ‘game changer,’ and ‘disruptive.'” (by Jim Julius)
Big data. n. pl. 1.When ordinary surveillance just isn’t enough.
2. “the Grail, the white whale, the mother lode, the object of all desire – ‘It was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Data'” (Ed Webb).
3. Nostalgia for Skinner boxes. (tip of the hat to Audrey Watters) (suggested by Laura Gibbs)
Chromebook, n. “A device that recognizes that the mainframe wasn’t such a bad idea after all.” (by gmphap1)
Clickers, n.pl. 1. Remotes without control.
2.”Technology for assessing student knowledge, however mostly used for attendance purposes and acknowledging that although they aren’t paying attention, students are able to click a button to give professor the illusion of engagement.” (by Amy)
Cloud, n. 1. A place of terror and dismay, a mysterious digital onslaught, into which we all quietly moved.
2. A “fictitious place where dreams are stored. Once believed to be free and nebulous, now colonized and managed by monsters. See ‘Castle in the Air’.” (by Lisa Lane)
3. A “just other people’s computers”. (pmasson channeling Free Software Foundation Europe)
Competency-based learning or competency-based education (CBE), n. “The recognition that learning is really about what should be learned and is really learned in a segment of learning.” (by gmphap1)
Counsel, n. Well paid, well trained in neither education nor technology, and rules decisively on (and against) both.
Digital rights management (DRM), n. 1. Digital leash.
2. Nostalgia for the Berlin Wall.
3. When the paranoid and misanthropic reach for Kafka to confront human beings actually using technology.
Disruption, n. 1. The God-Emperor of our era, before whom we offer sacrifices and prostration.
2. An “idea that won’t solve a problem that doesn’t need solving, but will create the maximum amount of media coverage whilst not doing so. A way for rich, well-educated, white men to take on the establishment.” (by David Kernohan)
Edupunk, n. “Short-lived subversive concept advocating for learner empowerment and related disorders, quickly and safely contained by deployment of approved technology such as the LMS (q.v.). See also, Connectivism, DS106.” (by Ed Webb)
Failure, n. 1. A temporary practice educators encourage in students, which schools then ruthlessly, publicly, and permanently punish.
2. A temporary practice the wealthy encourage in the young, possibly to increase their desperation. (term suggested by Rolin Moe)
Flipped classroom, n. “The practice of replacing lectures that instructors give to summarize a course’s readings with videos of lectures that summarize a course’s readings.” (by Eric Behrens)
Forum, n. 1. Social Darwinism using 1980s technology.
2. A useful way to learners, teachers, and staff to communicate with each other on their own timelines. Rarely used except in distance learning. (suggested by Joe Murphy)
Google Doc, n. A collaborative web page which anyone can potentially edit; not a wiki.
Innovation, n. 1. The other God-Emperor of the World.
2. A magical word applied to something you’d like to do and get paid for.
3. Recognizing a good idea developed by someone else in the past, and claiming it as emergent. (suggested by Joe Murphy)
iTunesU, n. 1. A graveyard of content.
2. When you really, absolutely want to avoid the web, yet are forced to share content outside the LMS.
Makerspace, n. “a 2004 computer lab with chairs that roll and a soldering iron.” (See also Open Lab) (by Robin DeRosa)
“Not a monolith,” colloquial. A magical phrase applied to a project to summon up more money for it.
“One size fits all,” colloquial. What we criticize in other people’s projects, and embrace enthusiastically in our own.
Open access in scholarly publication, n. 1. The apocalypse of publishers, scholarly societies, and some professors.
2. “Often abbreviated as OA. Describes a publishing situation when someone else reaches for the check before you do. Popular in Europe and in STEM publishing. In the US, however, humanities scholars usually claim to have left their wallets at home.” (by Greg Britton)
Open Badges, n. “A safe gamification strategy for the LMS, rewarding student compliance with digital stickers. Use with care: although they are technically portable, they must *never* be used for useful, transferable recognition of learning, for that way lies the abyss.” (see Badges) (by Don Presant)
Open Lab, n. “a 2004 computer lab with chairs that roll.” (See also Makerspace) (by Robin DeRosa)
Powerpoint, n. 1. A popular and low cost narcotic, mysteriously decriminalized.
2.”Powerful tool for keeping ideas within approved boundaries. The only approved presentation technology. The driving force behind the efficiency of the U.S. military, which is to be emulated across education.” (by Ed Webb)
RSS, n. A free, easily accessed, well documented, and flexible technology that helps people with information overload, source management, and research workflow. There are many, many applications written that rely on RSS. Let us never speak of it again. (inspired by Vanessa Vaile)
Synchronous, adj. 1. Describes the terrifying realization that there is another human being online, and that they do not think like you.
2. Describes a venue for public typos.
YouTube, n. The ideal educational technology: everyone likes and uses it, it’s reliable and free, and neither you nor anyone you know has to support it.
(Bierce painting via Wikipedia; devil stencil by Mike Coghlan; thanks to other folks like Steve Taylor for suggestions and japes)