Each academic specialty has its own specific vocabulary. This is important: to explore academic areas in depth, specific words are required for the tools, phenomena, theories, and actions involved. Only by employing a precision of language can students, professors, and researchers really understand what one another are saying.

Given that higher education is so good at naming things, why don’t we have clear words to describe the tools, theories, and actions involved in teaching? We have one word — pedagogy — that describes the art and science of teaching. As much as it sounds like a technical term, it’s really quite broad—including teaching strategies, lesson content, scope and sequence, and instructional modalities.

In the digital context, the language becomes even less precise, with words like “adaptive,” “personalized,” and “platform” being used to describe the myriad solutions that in practice bear limited resemblance to one another. Part of the problem is also that it’s an issue of degrees. Individualization, personalization, adaptivity: all of these can happen to greater or lesser degrees within products or services.

Taxonomy Layer approach

Technology has tremendous potential to support teaching and learning, however if teachers and schools can’t understand what a certain tool or technology does (partly thanks to hyperbolic marketing), or what makes one solution different from another, everybody loses. Teachers miss out on adopting a really useful product, students miss on a technology innovation that will help them, and companies miss business.

We all need to be better defined. That’s why Dror Ben-Naim, our Founder and CEO, and Gunnar Counselman, CEO at Fidelis, have started a conversation about cleaning up the language and creating a Taxonomy for Personalized Education. By asking the simple question – What is adaptive and personalized learning? – Dror and Gunnar developed a simple approach to describing Personalized Education using descriptions that everyone understands.

By using better language everyone wins!

Read the full piece in EdSurge >

Daniel White, VP Sales & Marketing