Friday, 9 November 2007

Bad jargon

Web 2.0 is a widely-used term for the significant new developments in Web design and use that mean greater user input and more participation, through the likes of social networking, Wikis and blogs. It seems a reasonable tag to me, with its play on second generation software, suggesting it’s a whole new version of the Web. Of course, it’s really a bit of clever promotion, since many of these ‘new’ technological developments have actually been around all along, and it’s just their widespread adoption that’s new. See this WikipediaLink.

But I draw the line at “E-learning 2.0”. At best this is bandwagon jumping. WikipediaLink. The same criticism as for the use of Web 2.0 applies, but I would go further. I’d call it techno-babble, a piece of mystification of learning, when what we should really be doing is making e-learning more accessible for all.

To someone who’s not familiar with the use of numerical suffixes denoting technical upgrades or new versions (not everyone’s a digital native!), the term is not meaningful. Indeed, it might prompt investigation into what was “E-learning 1.0”, and there would be nothing to find, as there’s no shared definition of what’s new about 2.0. It’s like an in-joke, except not a funny one. It’s just not helpful.

The failures of e-learning have been so widespread and frequent, and negative opinions based on bad experiences are so common, that e-learning advocates have repeatedly sought ways to distance new, better, e-learning from the bad old stuff. This tag is just the latest attempt. But it’s better to acknowledge what, explicitly, went wrong in the past, and to specify what’s better now, rather than hide behind a label that doesn’t offer an explanation.

I welcome improvements in e-learning, but you won’t find me using bad jargon like E-learning 2.0 (not even in the heading of this post). And I’m looking for ways to drop as much technological jargon from e-learning as possible – I’d welcome any further suggestions.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Sorry to comment on my own post, but I've just read this article:

It makes a very similar point!