Ryan is attending an Ed Tech conference this week and sends me this email from the venue:
WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MEAN? (bullet points from an actual powerpoint preso)
— Explore better system functionality and/or approaches to pushing
content dynamically into LMS
— Capitalize on future library and learning management systems
enhancements to generate more dynamic content in LMS
Indeed…what does that mean? And, perhaps more important still, what can we do to make blather like this stop?
Something very sad and scary seems to be happening to the language we use at educational technology conferences: at the very moment when we need our language to be precise and eloquent and crystal clear, things fall apart. Conference Speak creeps in and paralyzes the moment.
We are educators. We are talking about teaching our children. These are important conversations. We go to (way too) expensive conferences so we can go home and do our jobs better. And yet if what we hear doesn’t mean anything, why aren’t people raising a fuss and demanding clarity?
Why is it that teachers who believe in rigor and excellence in their classrooms (and from themselves) are not demanding the same from their colleagues at conferences?
Personally I think its a convergence of several things… mainly Money, Fear, and Apathy.
Money because I believe there is an inverse relation between the registration fee one pays and the clarity of the conference speak (that is: the more you pay, the more jargon will be flung your way) …
Fear because we have conditioned ourselves to believe that people who talk about technology must be revered and obeyed and never questioned (“who am I, but an impotent luddite, and for that reason I am lost in this torrent of nonsense…”) and/or because the Emperess spewing the blather might be the boss’ colleague and power struggles being what they are she might not react kindly to your mention of her No-Clothes-Less-Ness…
and Apathy because it just takes too much effort to call someone out and ask for clarification after three days of sitting in a windowless, airless, chandelier-encrusted conference venue…even though you know you would be the hero of the twitter back channel if you did it.
As educators, as thinkers, as paying customers…we should insist upon jargon and buzzword free meetings and insist that people speak clearly. Conference presentations should not be about overwhelming your audience with your supposed brilliance, rather, they should be about engaging them so they feel welcome to ponder, question, engage, learn….
But sometimes, it’s true…you realize the problem is deeper set and more entrenched than you possibly imagined. The free donuts start taking their toll and you cave. What can you do to fight off the mindless prattle?
Well, after you make a mental note to yourself to cross this event off your to do list for 2011…giggle…well then OF COURSE you bring out the IT bullsh#t bingo cards.
Share them with your new-found soon to be zombie-fied pals in the back row. S/he who makes Bingo first buys the first round, and plots the next revolution.
~~Got some great quotes from conference presos you have endured and would like to share? Please add them to the comments below!~~