Saturday, April 3, 2010

How to Create a Buzzword

I've been tinkering with a response this week to my last post, which hit me with some vitriol, albeit fully expected by yours truly. I was wanting to make it a direct successor to the post, but in the end, something whimsical came up on Thursday evening that will allow for a bit of a decent buffer, not to mention allay the fears of the teacher crowd of my blog's fandom (All two of you!) that I've forgotten about talking about what I actually do for a living.

I'm taking a course offered by the Department of Education entitled "Effective Instructional Technology." It's the first of a series of courses that, when complete, will allow me to add on to my teaching certificate certifications in Educational Technology Facilitator and Educational Technology Leadership. The course I took was pretty much a introduction to utilizing technology in the classroom. As with all things dealing with education, there were plenty of opportunities for reflection, and at times I was growing tired of saying the same things over and over and over (and over!) about using technology in the classroom. My first efforts to break free and really speak what was on my mind were rewarded with lower scores than everyone else who was posting, apparently.

Being one obviously to take the concept of sticking to my opinions to heart, I was at a loss as to how to attack the assignments for the remainder of the class. I did not want to sit there and mindlessly parrot the party line with my reflections, but I wanted to make sure I scored well in a way that truly represented the work I put in to the assignments. The obvious solution was to post using vocabulary that served extra helpings of educationese that made my points, but also used the appropriate verbiage to the point it became a parody. Simply put, I decided to be subversive in my work, something that is a hobby of people like me.

The work received its desired effect, and in an instance of sweet, delicious irony, I think I created what could be the Next Great Buzzword™ in Educational Technology. In a discussion on how to use technology in the classroom to maximum effect. I chimed in with a comment about how the teacher could maximize the use of technology. Throughout the entire course, I was making the point that perhaps the key to maximizing technology's effectiveness in the classroom was to stop treating technology as some neat trick to get the students' attention--rather to utilize it like any other tool in the classroom. So in a fit of insanity, I unleasshed a message that claimed that claimed that the key to success when it comes to using technology in the classroom would be for it to become an "organic instructional component."

Organic. Instructional. Component.

What? I don't even know what that meant!

The response from the moderator stunned me even more than the fact I couldn't even figure out what I said. She complimented me on my comments and singled out that statement for particular praise due to its creativity in merging biology, technology, and pedagogy into a perfect comment. I thought that there was no way that in the process of trying to be a bit silly I created a brand new phrase. So I googled the phrase, and alas, it had never been said before. I sat there scratching my head at all of this, then it dawned on me that this is how buzzwords are created. Some fellow is sitting there at his desk trying to sound impressive and creative for a presentation, and he throws a bunch of ostentatious words together, and Presto! A buzzword is made. I have to say I was a bit proud of myself for not just pulling the wool over some educators' eyes with some high-sounding language, but also I had managed to accidentally create a buzzword.

Of course, I usually go through the more direct route of creating a buzzword when I'm in the mood, but it was amusing to see how far a little bit of frustrated imagination took me in a mundane assignment. So, if you're stumped in your presentation and need the perfect phrase to sell your clients on your training product, tell them that it's the perfect vehicle to provide an organic instructional component to their enterprise. I won't even ask for a slice of the profits--consider it a free gift.

Until next time.


Mikki Black said...

Oh, my gosh, I think I love you.

That, my friend, is genius. I just finished my National Boards portfolio, and I am so SICK of edu-speak! I get that I have to use their words to make it sound professional or whatever, but --bleagh--.

My cadre leader (again, bleagh on THAT term) read some of my writing and just gushed over how awesome it was.

I was just jumping through the hoop and trying to fit in the little mold they laid out for us...

I am TOTALLY stealing your phrase for next year's professional development goal, too. Awesome.

Loren C. Klein said...

Why thanks for the compliments. *blush*

I'm so tired of the edu-speak, but I'm still a young whipper-snapper, teaching-wise, so I decided to start subverting the system. At least I'll get some fun out of it.

Speaking of NBCT, I'm debating whether to take the plunge and try for NBCT within the next year or so in Early Adolescent Social Studies. Any comments on the process? Thanks!

Mikki Black said...

Loren - Don't do it alone, don't waste time, be sure you have about 300 hours to build your portfolio, be willing to give up your weekends after you "waste" time focusing on your classes.

It's not impossible, but it's a lot of rule following. If you can follow instructions and write ok, then you should be fine with the portfolio. There's a nice listserve you can join for support.

Also there's a test.

Before you decide, you should go look at your portfolio instructions at