Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head
If men are from Mars then Edtech is from another galaxy entirely as far as we in ELT are concerned.
With their jargon, their suspiciously design industry preoccupation with fonts and UX (user experience) and their unapologetically corporate bedfellows, they might as well be speaking a foreign language from a country we aren’t sure we want to visit, let alone live.
Which got me thinking, what if we did speak their language? Would we find more common ground than we think? More to the point, when are they going to start learning a bit of ours? Without some attempt to communicate in the right way, we’re left with confusion and mistrust.
So, in part one of some hopefully demystifying posts, here’s what Edtech think they’re conveying from their distant, yet right up in our faces, galaxy and what we in ELT are hearing.
THEY MEAN: Technology is an enhancement or replacement for traditional teaching methods and tools.
WE HEAR: Boys with toys, bombarding us with jargon, who favour style over substance. These are the guys scheduling meetings with themselves in Google calendar, practising their Steve Jobs shuffle and stocking up on black polo-necks for their first big product launch.
If they ever make a product that is.
THEY MEAN: A way of creating a product that puts the delivery of real value at the centre of the process.
WE HEAR: Speed over substance by cutting out as many stages as possible starting with the writer/author, then editor until all that’s left is the digital start up company behind it.
THEY MEAN: The most important part of the product chain.
WE HEAR: They’re only interested in students’ money and finding as many ways to sell to them as possible, whether they need the product or not.
THEY MEAN: Quantified information about an individual’s performance to be used only to improve that user’s experience/learning.
WE HEAR: Big brother’s reading your mind via your answers to gap fills, stealing learner’s privacy to sell to big corporations.
Minimal Viable Product
THEY MEAN: A product that delivers just enough features to allow the user to do what they need to do.
WE HEAR: Something crap that can make a profit anyway. There’s no need to develop it further. Why bother to invest more if it’s already profitable?
THEY MEAN: Definable, measurable results of input and effort.
WE HEAR: Corporate goals involving money, not people. What happened to the far more human “achievements”?
THEY MEAN: A writer who’s not necessarily the source of the idea but that possibility is not excluded.
WE HEAR: Gap fill monkey typing away into a template for an end product that will be dispensed in similarly granular format. Assigned a bar code instead of a name. Their name will never be seen in conjunction with the materials they produce. The end of royalties or fees that reflect our work or, in more privilege bathed cases, our stature.
THEY MEAN: Seeking to create something new, often by destroying or changing beyond recognition something old.
WE HEAR: Blah, blah… No one knows what this means so it only punctuates the buzzword fog with more unease.
THEY MEAN: Customer/learner centred materials which change to suit individual needs. Just like good teachers do but can’t in a class of more than one.
WE HEAR: The end of everything educators care about. Gap fills with a fancy software wrapping.
THEY MEAN: The use of features common in games to provide motivation in learning. Not the same as learning through playing games.
WE HEAR: Carrots, points and levelling up all hiding the fact no actual learning will take place.
For Jo Sayers view from his vantage point between both camps, see here.