Learning Technology Buzzwords of 2012

A "Buzzword" Cloud

A “Buzzword” Cloud

New concepts and ideas continue to emerge and be refined over 2012. We’ve picked out a few from this year. Next year you can expect to see more on learning analytics, personalised learning networks and gamification in education

Flipped Classroom

The Flipped Classroom concept suggests that traditional teaching is “flipped over”. Teaching activities take place at home via recorded videos delivered by the teacher and time spent in the classroom is used to discuss, reflect and collaborate on the content with the teacher present. Areas where there may be misunderstandings can be worked through on a one to one basis.

Supporters of flipped teaching believe that it transforms the learning experience for students who are no longer passive recipients of teaching content, but constructivist learners.

Critics think that assumptions are being made about this form of pedagogy and the learning environments involved.

Further Reading


2012 is the year that the term MOOC reached public consciousness. The media, of course, have created a fair amount of hyperbole suggesting that it is the end of the university as we know it. While this may be a bit of an exaggeration, there is no doubt that this new model will influence the future direction of higher education in the coming years.

The catalyst for the hype has undoubtedly been the arrival of EdX, Udacity and Coursera, with huge subscriptions to their course materials provided by some of the world’s leading universities including Standford, Harvard and MIT.

So what is a MOOC? As summarised by Sir John Daniel (2012), the term Massive Open Online Course was created by Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander in 2008 to describe a course being delivered by open education pioneers George Siemens and Stephen Downes.  It refers to large and open courses delivered through the web to many thousands of students.

The pedagogy of the earlier MOOCs utilised connectivist approaches where course content was available through RSS feeds and learners could choose a number of different tools, such as discussion groups, synchronous conferencing, blog posts, or virtual worlds, to aid their online learning. Siemens has since defined these as cMOOCs to distinguish them from the new MOOCs (or xMOOCs) which are similar to traditional content driven courses.

It can be safely said that the buzz (and arguments) around MOOCs will continue into 2013.

Further reading

Mobile Learning

Mobile learning continued to be a buzzword in 2012, although it would seem that no agreement has been reached with regards to what mobile learning is. Mike Sharples at the Open University has probably provided the best definition so far which is, “the processes (both personal and public) of coming to know through exploration and conversation across multiple contexts amongst people and interactive technologies” (Sharples, M., et al, 2007). This definition puts the learner at the centre rather than the technology and was derived three years before the arrival of the iPad!

Mobile learning and mobility continue to be a nebulous and changing idea because mobile technologies continue to evolve (and be replaced), new mobile contexts are emerging and obtaining decent longitudinal data of learner processes and behaviours is difficult.

A CRN Digital Futures Mobile Evaluation Framework, lead by the Australian Digital Futures Institute, is looking at these issues and trying to build a robust framework for evaluating mobile learning technologies.

Further Reading

Digital Curation

The curation of digital content has gained a lot of interest in 2012. Previously, the term had been used to describe the digital preservation of artefacts from museums and libraries. However, it is now a term that is used for the curation of digital content from around the web. Free platforms such as Scoop.it, Storify and Pinterest have emerged which pull the content into a single collection.

In terms of literacies for the future, the value of digital curation tools is beginning to become apparent with tutors and learners able to use these tools to select content from around the web to contextualise or explain a specific topic or tell digital stories to shed further light. It is the process involved in the selection of content that is of interest in terms of digital literacy.

Further Reading

Scoop This: A Comprehensive Guide to Scoop.it for Content Curation 

Neil Martin


J.S. Daniel (2012) Making Sense of MOOCs, Downloadable paper on Sir John’s blog http://sirjohn.ca/wordpress/?page_id=29

M Sharples, J Taylor, G Vavoula, (2007), Towards a Theory of Mobile Learning, Proceedings of mLearn 2005 1 (1), 1-9

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