Inspired by this article where a bunch of researchers from Oxford identified the ten most annoying phrases currently in the English language I decided to try to make a list of words and phrases that folks in academic technology regularly use but which make my teeth all get up and run around my mouth. Now one might think that given a. the prevalence of jargon in the field and b. the extreme nature of my curmudgeonliness that I would have had an embarrassment of riches and would have many words and phrases from which I could choose. But it turns out that I needed help, and I got that from Colleen Carmean and Alan Wolf.
Here is a list of some of our top annoyances.
1. Tech savvy: This phrase drives me barmy. It is a verbal form of waving one's hands to imply, without any evidence, that students know anything about technology. Particularly annoying given that it is, I believe, derived from the Latin sapere, to be wise, which is very very seldom true. Either about technology or about anything else.
2. Edupunk: Now punk rock as a genre makes sense to me, edupunk not so much. Are you really doing it yourself, really that hard-edged. Really that different from what lots of other people are doing? Yeah I didnt think so.
3. Bandwidth: As in "I don't have enough bandwidth" to take on another project. Unless you're actually talking about mb's and a network.
4. Content expert/subject matter expert: Let's really break education down into a Taylorised, Henry Ford wet dream where some folks spout content and other people do things with it. Because a. that happens and b. its possible and c. its a good idea. Yeah right, drives me daft.
5. Cyberinfrastructure: You could make an argument that it hasn't quite achieved the status of being annoying but it's getting there fast. It's a wonderful word though if you're an administrator because you can combine the perception of being tech savvy (cyber...ooohhh) with the hardcore and expensive and very masculine sounding infrastructure, without actually saying anything. This is not true of everyone who speaks of cyberinfrastructure eg Dan Atkins, but it is true of many, eg me.
6. Adoption curve: This has become so overused it is meaningless, and hence annoying. People use a genuflection toward the faculty adoption curves with early adopters, early majority etc as a way to ignore the complexity of how technology use varies within the faculty.
7. Learning space: Again this has become so overused that it has lost the meaning it once may have had. Anywhere where people are gathered on a campus is now a "learning space." Which is great in some ways, but what are not learning spaces then. I am also driven bonkers by other over-uses of the word space eg "we are really competitive in the distance education learning space right now." Aaarghh!
8. Webinar: A barabarous neologism. Is the seminar I went to in a conference room a conferar?
9. Edublogger: Always comes out sounding like "edgy blogger." Which we tend not to be, see edupunk.
10. Cycles: When not talking about actual processor cycles. Or things with wheels.
Dishonorable Mentions: Information commons, workstation, digital learner (what, you learn in binary, or on your fingers?), end user, information literacy, sustainability.
There are some words and phrases we do like, though probably not for long.
a. Rocket surgery, as in it's not rocket surgery, and
b. Free range learning, You will have to ask Colleen about that one.
The article on the British list is interesting, mostly the comment section.