Table of Confusors
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ConfusorMeaning 1Meaning2Meaning 3
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Learning (Thanks to Jose Icaza at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico for reminding me that I'd missed this confusor!)A visible activity (e.g., studying, listening to lectures, working on a project)What's happening invisibly in the person's brain during that process (meaning1) e.g., a misconception being confronted and being replaced by a different conceptionThe outcome of that process (meaning 2) e.g., mastery of a skill or body of knowledge. To avoid confusion, you may want to refer to meaning 3 as a 'learning outcome' or 'what the person has learned' instead of 'learning.'
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TrainingSynonym for education, but typically used for relatively brief or contained kinds of teaching and learning. This definition is most common in the wider world.A form of education that emphasizes a) everyone should learn the same thing, b) acquisition of knowledge or skills without any emphasis on engendering wisdom or perspective. This definition is more common in universities.
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LectureOne-way communication (oral, images) from an expert to a large number of novices. Can occur in a classroom, by video, by audio, etc.Anything a faculty member does with students in a classroom
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TeachingAny intentional activity that, directly or indirectly, helps someone else learn (example of indirect teaching: assigning a student to write a paper on a topic of personal interest, even if no further assistance or feedback is given)Any intentional activity that directly helps someone else learn (e.g., coaching; writing a textbook)An activity that occurs, by definition, only when the expert and the novice are in the same room. So any form of distance learning, no matter how effective, is not teaching.
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Teaching, Continual Improvement ofPeriodically tweaking or rethinking teaching in order to make learning more effective.Periodically updating the content to be covered in a course.
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CourseTeacher, students, materials and what happens among them. Each term, each "course' is unique because (at the very least) the students change. This definition is held inconsistently -- many people would agree with it, yet almost no "course evaluations" include assessments of the contributions of the students.The materials used for instruction. This definition is implied by the question, "Who owns the course?" which is a question about control of intellectual property, not about slavery.Teacher and the materials the teacher uses (but not the students) - implied when someone says, "I'm teaching the same course again this year."
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Blended course (also known as "hybrid" course)Nontraditional scheduling. Total time spent in the course remains the same as in typical classes. However, students are expected to spend more time on ‘homework’ (out of classroom) including online work. Fewer hours are spent in face-to-face meetings in classrooms. Most common motives: give students more time to do the work online; reduce the demand for classroom space; decrease scheduling conflicts that slow student progress to a degree.Use of various technologies for complementary communicative/interactive purposes including classrooms, textbooks, and online tools such as course management systems, e-mail, and the web.
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Active learningA learning process can be defined as "active" if the learner is required to continually make decisions. For example, learning processes that involve assignments of writing, discussion, solving a problem, group work, or creating something are active learning processes. Lectures are usually characterized as passive because the learner is not required by the situation to think critically or even to listen.A learning process can be defined as active if a learner is continually making decisions, whether or not the process forces the learner to do so. For example, a lecture can support active learning if the listener is continually (perhaps silently) questioning and interpreting the message - "why was that said?" "what are the implications of what was just said?" "do I believe what was just said?"
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Interactive, InteractivityStudents conversing online with faculty and other students ('interactive instruction')Students using software that is designed for educational purposes and which responds differently depending on what the student writes or does, e.g., tutorials, online quiz, simulations
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Faculty DevelopmentServices that potentially help all faculty enhance their effectiveness in teaching, including faculty who are already award-winning teachers
Services that help faculty improve their careers (e.g., publish more; have better work-life balance)Services that help novice or poor faculty enhance their teaching.
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Evaluation (many clashing definitions - here are three of them)Gathering and using data about a program's outcomes in order to make a decision about the programUse of quantitative information to judge a program (in contrast with "assessment" which collects and uses qualitative informationGathering and using evidence in order to help people make choices regarding a program (for example improving its operation, publicizing it, funding it)
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Assessment (ditto)Measurement of what students have learned or what students can doIntentional collection of qualitative information (e.g., students writing essays, interviews)Intentional collection of information by you in order to advance your own agenda
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DataAny information used as part of an intentional inquiry. The results of an interview are data, for example. Photographs originally taken for another purpose but used in an evaluation are data.Quantitative information - numbers. If the results aren't numbers, then they aren't data..
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Scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL)Intentional, formal inquiry by faculty members with their own students as subjects, designed to help them improve their own courses and, if the inquiry turns out to be exceptionally successful, help their colleagues improve their own courses as well. It is this last clause that distinguishes SOTL from course research. Unlike educational research, SOTL inquiry is not typically in search of generalizable findings. Any faculty member with a little additional training can engage in SOTL, no matter what the discipline of the faculty member.Other definitions are like the one to the left but vary in detail. For example some people insist that, to meet the definition of SOTL, an inquiry needs to be framed in terms of what other faculty members have found in their own inquiries. Some say that the activity needs to be exposed to the critique of colleagues, but need not a chance of being helpful to colleagues' teaching or inquiries,, in order to be considered SOTL.Any kind of innovative work done by faculty that is heard about by colleagues and benefits them. (In our view this is an incorrect definition of SOTL).
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Costs of educationNet costs of an activity for the institution offering it (e.g., costs of a distance learning program)Gross costs. (We've heard of a department that, when asked to cut costs, fired an adjunct who happened to be responsible for a good chunk of the department's revenue..)Costs to the student (money? time in commuting? time to a degree?)
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Distance learningAny educational program that helps students learn even though they rarely or never see their instructors face-to-face(ditto) but only if the barrier facing students is physical distance (as opposed to schedule)(ditto) but done in a way that is inevitably inferior (less interactive, fewer resources for students, less faculty attention, larger course sizes)
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Distance learning (cont'd.)(ditto) but only if the students use two-way video(ditto) but only if students use the Web
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CampusA large contiguous physical space where an institution has many buildings, where faculty have offices, where there are classrooms, etcInstitution, including all its online activities, distant students, distant experts, distant resources and labs, etc.
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Campus, learning on (comparison with distance learning)When compared with distance learning, 'campus learning' is assumed to be highly variable, including possibility of large or small classes, passive or active students. If distance learning outcomes are found to be the same as campus outcomes, this might mean that both are bad, both are mediocre, or that both are great.When compared with distance learning (see above), 'campus learning' is assumed to be ideal (all small classes, rich discussion, labs, etc.). If distance learning outcomes are found to be the same as campus outcomes, then distance learning must be very good.
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TechnologyAny tool, resource, facility etc. that's used for some purpose, along with what's known about how to use that tool, resource or facility to achieve that purposeAny tool, resource, or facility that is, for the person involved, unfamiliar, risky and/or expensive enough that the person is continually conscious of it. For many people word processors and cars are not technologies because they can easily use them without continually being aware of them.Online courses
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Classroom use of technologyUse of "technology" (q.v.) in a physical classroomAny use of technology associated with a course, even when used in a dorm room, library, or workplace to do homework for that course
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eLearning, online learningAny use of computer-related technology to enrich or extend educationDistance or hybrid courses with online componentsDistance learning courses with online components
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Integrating technology into the course (or classroom) (why not say 'using computers in a course' or something more specific?)Adding a technology use to the course
Reconceiving the course content or activities in ways made possible by some use(s) of technology.
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MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)Massive: potentially could serve large numbers of students or actually serves large numbers?Open: no cost? user has rights to alter, remix, and redistribute the product but may need to pay for it in some way first.Course: just the materials? or with some form of human interaction, tutoring, testing, and/or other forms of support?
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Delivery of instruction (why not say 'teaching and learning', 'education' or 'organized learning' instead?)An approach to education that relies mainly on materials and one-way transmission of explanations from experts to learners. "Delivery" implies that clear explanations result in effective learning. Goes with the assumption that education can usually occur completely effectively if the learner reads, hears, or watches instructional messages.Any way that students learn.Any way that students learn if they're off-campus
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Information literacy"The set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information. Information literacy is more closely tied to course-integrated instruction but it extends far beyond coordination between the reference librarian and the individual faculty member." (ACRL)Teaching students how the basics ('literacy') of how to use the library as well as how to use specialized online and other digital resources available from the library. Unrelated to the rest of the curriculum unless the faculty member invites someone from the library to provide a quick briefing or online tips.
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We, they, them, etc.In any 'dangerous discussion,' it's important to learn what others mean when they say "we" (as in "we decided that ..." or "they (as in "they won't let us ...").
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(time)In discussions of technology development projects, time can be a confusor. When a developer mentions a capability of a technology under development (e.g., this system can do "x"), you need to clarify whether the capability already exists and is reliable, whether it exists only in a test form, or whether the developer expects the capability to become available real soon.Jose' Icaza of ITESM in Mexico points out that "always" can be a confusor when two people agree (or disagree) about something that students 'always' do: all students? all the time without exception? or might it mean that 50% of students do this 50% of the time?
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