wasting bandwidth since 1999


The power of the connectiveness of the web is such that it doesn’t take long for a new idea to get around. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be good to spread but spread it will.

Right now, one high profile concept bouncing around the echo chamber in which I live seems to be “edupunk”.

I’m not completely clear if this is something good, bad, or otherwise. But it does have a Wikipedia article, so that means it’s important, right? :-)

According to that venerable source…

Edupunk is an ideology referring to educators and education strategies with a do it yourself (DIY) spirit. Most instructional uses of blogs, wikis, various mashups, and podcasting among many other uses of emerging technologies might be described as DIY education or Edupunk. The term was first used on May 25, 2008 by Jim Groom in his blog, and covered less than a week later in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Examples of Edupunk are Legos, Edusim, chalk, Hypercard, Moodle, use of the Bliki (blog and wiki mashups), students’ art work on the outside wall of the classroom, and students teaching their teachers how to use technology.

Edupunk is also a rejection of efforts by government and corporate interests in using emerging technologies to exercise control over education, its processes, and its stakeholders, somewhat similar to punk ideologies. There is also an element of resistance to large and influential education businesses like Blackboard cooping emerging, collaborative, DIY technologies and techniques and repackaging them as their own product.

Ok, do it yourself education is good. Mostly. I guess.

Instructional uses of blogs, wikis (Bliki??) and the rest certainly could be good, although right now most teachers have little understanding of these tools and how they fit in the classroom.

And I’m all for rejecting Blackboard!

However, I just wonder how adopting new, extremely vaguely-defined terms is going to help us connect and communicate with the majority of educators who are still rather nervous about having a link to the web in their classrooms in the first place.

Especially when we have plenty of old, extremely vaguely-defined terms in education already.


  1. Educatorblog

    I think that professional development initiatives have to focus on helping teachers bring the curriculum and new technologies together. Many educators are already doing this – I know many special ed teachers who find engaging ways for students to tell stories on the web, science teachers who integrate amazing websites and tools into their lessons, and math teachers who can move from smart board to white board to online calculator in the space of 10 minutes. As a former IT consultant, I understand the challenges of injecting new technologies into any process (there are still executives who can’t navigate a simple email program without the help of their assistant). Do you have any ideas for how districts and schools can help teachers put technology in classrooms?

  2. Dave

    You answered your own question: the traditional education decision-makers like extremely vaguely-defined terms. They always seem to latch onto the least important, least appropriate part of ed tech discussions. Especially if it’s something just a little bit silly.

    For example: They think blogs are evil, and they’ve never heard of RSS (well they have, but they always glaze over when they hear an acronym). But podcasts! Lordie, how can our school survive without 60 minute audio recordings of principals reading PR-speak interspersed with copyright-violating clips of music? The best part is, we don’t have to put the announcements on that pesky website any more!

    So it wouldn’t be surprising if edupunk caught on with the majority of educators…I imagine principals will soon begin requiring all teachers to be edupunk.

  3. Tom

    I worked with Jim Groom for a while at UR. So I’ve been watching this whole thing from the start.

    It’s been really strange to watch how it has caught on. I don’t know if it really will do anything for society as a whole or even edtech in the larger sense.

    In my mind, the people who believed in the ideas that surround the term already did and will continue to with or without a catch phrase. I will say it has been fun and has stirred up a lot of people to levels of passion that I can’t really understand. That’s probably a good thing. I don’t see the idea/term hurting anything but it might provide some with an interesting/fun way to think about what they’re doing or what they might do.

    BTW, a bliki is a blog/wiki mix and you can see some more info here.

    I think the whole thing’s pretty amusing.

  4. Tad Suiter

    However, I just wonder how adopting new, extremely vaguely-defined terms is going to help us connect and communicate with the majority of educators who are still rather nervous about having a link to the web in their classrooms in the first place.

    Well, my initial reaction is that those may not be the educators who’re really being targeted. Punk was and is a subculture. It doesn’t fit with popular tastes– a lot of people will never appreciate that noise. But the noise has made a lasting impact on popular music.

    More to the point, though– encourage people to take up such an approach by actually showing how well it works. This is a challenge to any people working with new media in education– we need to move past all these theoretical conversations and proselytizing and start showing the doubtful more real results.

    The DIY ethos is all about doing. When you apply the notion to pedagogy…

    Teach by doing.
    Teach by being.
    Demonstrate efficacy by making effective use of the tools at hand. People will prick up their ears when you’re showing real results.

    The sloppy, handmade, hand-me-down aesthetic of DIY punk has utility, too. Don’t make something slick and impossible-seeming. Make something that seems real, let people see where you’re using scotch tape to do layout in your zine. Let people know that you don’t need to be a technical virtuoso to play guitar. The aesthetic lets people know it’s easily imitated. That inspires imitation. Imitation, in turn, serves to build community.

    “Web 2.0” is often associated with user-generated content. That’s very edupunk.

    It’s also associated with rounded corners. Rounded corners are not edupunk.

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