These 10 EdTech Terms!

Frank Bonsal III
Aug 24, 2015 · 4 min read

The following ten terms are key vocabulary for all innovative and entrepreneurial educators and education entrepreneurs, or anyone who wants to stay current in education innovation.

First, let me highlight the two professional personas that drive the rationale for this post.

Edupreneur: You have spent considerable time in the classroom or as an administrator. You encountered a massive problem that could not be solved from your then current perch. You disrupted yourself and became an entrepreneur working outside the formal educational environment but stay closely connected. You are an edupreneur.

Teacherpreneur: You have spent considerable time in the classroom and are eternally, intellectually curious. You have or exemplify a ‘growth mindset’. You have two friends who used to be active in your PLN but are now ensconced in building edtech companies where you frequently advise product build. You attend monthly edtech meetups and just re-signed your annual teacher contract for the fifth time. You love working with kids and can toggle seamlessly between academic and industry realms. You are a teacherpreneur.

“Teacherpreneurs are classroom experts who teach students regularly, but also have time, space, and reward to incubate and execute their own ideas — just like entrepreneurs!” — Barnett Barry, CEO, The Center for Teaching Quality

Moving from the Who to the How, below are critical pedagogical ways in which education can benefit from 21st century’s gifts and complexities.

One-to-One (aka 1:1): You give every learner dedicated access to a digital device, moreover the internet and a plethora of learning-centric apps, sites, and platforms and you have a one-to-one environment. See: Mooresville, NC, Houston ISD, and Baltimore County, MD as evolving district-wide examples of success. There must also be robust broadband access in these environs, which is often taken for granted.

Blended Learning: You ‘blend’ or create hybrid learning by using pedagogy (teaching methodology) that melds (or blends) classroom and online learning. Instruction is guided by both teacher interaction and digital devices. The Christensen Institute is a highlighted thought leader in this nascent but important pedagogy.

N.B. Flipped instruction is a form of blended learning, whereby students watch or interact with lecture material (often in video or web form) outside of class, then practice and demonstrate what they learned in a place-based environment. See: Khan Academy as the most widely known example.

Competency-Based Education (#CBE): CBE is a movement to lessen the emphasis on seat time, in favor of personalized mastery at a student’s own pace. CBE strategies provide flexible credit offerings (micro-credentialing and credit transferability) and utilize flexible blended or hybrid methodologies. Early CBE traction is found more in postsecondary education than K-12 but look for high school trends and watch New Hampshire, Ohio, and Michigan. More Info: College for America at SNHU, Straighterline, Western Governors, New Hampshire DOE

Adaptive Learning: You have time in the schedule for supplemental learning fit to each student. An adaptive process is a personalized, typically software or machine-translation process where learning and content is tailored to each student’s pace and level. More Info: EdSurge, Knewton, Smart Sparrow, and Think Through Math.

Project-Based Learning (#PBL): You use thematic or project-based learning in situations where interdisciplinary instruction can infuse deeper learning and often real-world application. In the late 1990s, I taught 5th and 6th Grade English-History using historical fiction, the writing process, interwoven grammar instruction, and used virtual and terrestrial field trips. We used student and teacher-created rubrics to evaluate progress, but it was the reports, presentations, the actual student work that yielded the glow, the indelible learning. Albeit sometimes messy along the way, my students and I loved these project-based experiences.

Finally, we move from the Who and the How to the What.

Open Educational Resources (OER): You like to share, are a giver much more than a taker. According to the Hewlett Foundation, “OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.” This includes open courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other open tools and materials used to support learning.

Personal Learning Network (#PLN): You have a dynamic PLN, if you have an informal network of professionals who have been curated to support and improve your pedagogical craft on a daily or weekly basis. As classroom teaching is often isolating, teachers create PLNs (often online chats and networks) to meet other teachers for advice and support. Participate in #edchat for ideas.

STEM (and STEAM): STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Increasingly, we see these domains availed in experiential and interdisciplinary ways. The A in STEAM, that’s for Art. You infuse the right brain into STEM and you have magic, you have Einstein. I stuck STEM in the What part of this post, but it just as easily could be in the How part. Ultimately, STEM aligns students with careers and professional pathways. Not small outcomes. STEM may well be the most life-changing, discipline-based focus of the 21st Century.

All things considered, the above list must evolve and be dynamic. You should, too. Stay focused — but keep your head up and adapt. It is so much more fun that way.

If you liked this post and want to share it, hit the Recommend button below, which means more prospective readers will see it. You can also find me over on Twitter and discern other stuff via Thanks!

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Frank Bonsal III

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Contrarian working for equity in impact, effectiveness, and economic upside. ✊

TU Incubator

Mission-aligned, timely, customized support for Capital Region entrepreneurs

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