User Generated Education

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Understanding the Language of the Internet Age of Education

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Language provides meaning to complex concepts, influences our thinking, and even affects how we behave.

Linguistic processes are pervasive in most fundamental domains of thought, unconsciously shaping us from the nuts and bolts of cognition and perception to our loftiest abstract notions and major life decisions. Language is central to our experience of being human, and the languages we speak profoundly shape the way we think, the way we see the world, the way we live our lives (Lera Boroditsky).

Based on evidence that language influences our thoughts, perceptions, and behaviors. it follows that understanding the language related to technology use in our society influences if and how educators and learners use these technologies for their own learning.

The importance of this premise has been noted by the National Council for English Teachers, who proposed what it means to be literate in the 21st Century.

Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities, and social trajectories of individuals and groups (

We tend to shy away from those things we do not understand, do not have a language for. The following is my version of a multi-modal, multimedia dictionary of those terms that are being developed and used by educators and learners in this age of learning.  The proposition is that with greater understanding and knowledge about how technology is influencing informal learning, workplace training and development, and society-at-large, the more likely educators would be more  to explore the integration of these ideas and instructional strategies into their classroom environments.

The ultimate goal is stated eloquently by Cathy Davidson:

Given the ever-increasing rapidity and magnitude of change on a global scale, we all need to master the precious and formidable skill of being able to stop in our tracks, discard the roadmap that has failed us, and try out a different route on the unpredictable journey ahead. (Davidson, 2009).

To do so requires that educators know and understand the trends that affect the world-at-large.

Please feel free to tell me of any additional trends that should be included!

Boroditsky, L. (2010).  Lost in Translation. Wall Street Journal.  Retrieved from

Davidson, C. (2009).  Learning Radical Transformation.  HASTAC.  Retrieved from

National Council for English Teachers. (2009). The Definition of 21st Century Literacies.  Retrieved from

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

October 5, 2011 at 8:37 pm

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