20 Education Buzz Words and Phrases

[Listed in a very rough chronological order from older words and phrases to newer ones]

1. 21st-century

We get it: It’s about change. But we still have 87 years to go before the next century. We don’t think anyone is going to forget what century we’re currently in.

2. “Sputnik moment”

Almost a decade ago, the talk of education town was the Program for International Student Assessment’s (PISA) report on how the U.S. was underperforming compared to other developed countries. “This is our very own ‘Sputnik Moment’” said everyone after hearing about PISA’s revelations. We don’t know about you, but between the nation’s emphasis on STEM and LEGO’s amazing robotics kits for classrooms, we’re Sputnik’ing the heck out of education…and we love it!

3. Web 2.0

Used to describe web sites that use technology beyond the static pages of earlier websites, years ago Web 2.0 was used to describe resources and tools schools could use on computers. Just like “tubular,” Web 2.0 is now a term of the past.

4. College- and career-ready

According to education experts, there is a large disconnect between what students learn in school and what they’re required to do in the workplace—highlights include critical thinking skills and communication skills. Now, you can’t even mention the word ‘education’ without ‘college- and career-ready’ popping up in the next two minutes of conversation.

5. Right-brain thinking

A few years back, Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, was making the education conference rounds and educators couldn’t stop discussing “right-brain” thinking, which included critical thinking and ‘outside-the-box’ imagination. As editors, we tended to agree!

6. Future-proofing

Just like words, such as “synergy” or “benchmarking,” this buzz term was conceptually pleasing, but annoyed everyone who had to hear it. Future-proofing was especially used in conjunction with 3-D projectors and any other education investment that had a large up-front cost, but promised an equally large, if not larger, return on investment (ROI).

7. Neuroscience

While not a buzz word specific to education, the inclusion of neuroscience into classroom practice was a huge trend just a couple of years ago. While many forward-thinking educators still consider neuroscience, the “new car smell” has dissipated.

8. Digital Natives

If one more person tells us how amazing it is that their two year old can build his/her own iPad we may just isolate ourselves and become island natives. Most students are fearless when it comes to technology, and that’s great. But let’s move on, shall we?

9. Real-world/project-based/inquiry-based

As part of closing the gap between school knowledge and workplace knowledge, experts recommend incorporating curriculum that asks students to work on a project that simulates a real-world problem. For example, “Meris needs to purchase and consume her Philly cheesesteak before she has a 1:00 interview, which will occur in less than five minutes. What kind of technology-based device can we build to ensure that Meris eats her sandwich in time?”

10. Disruptive technology

Based on the groundbreaking theory by Clayton Christensen, called Disruptive Innovation, disruptive technology, in relation to education, means any technology currently on the market that can revolutionize the way students learn. A good example of this technology is the iPad, or any other easily accessible mobile tablet.

(Next page: Words 11-20)

Meris Stansbury

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