Here’s a small rant: I’ve come across many words being used to represent the narrowest aspects of the concepts they stand for. Here are some examples.
|Word or Phrase||Narrow or subverted meaning||Broader meaning (my take)
|PowerPoint||That hellish conference experience we’ve all had: a presentation full of bullet points, lengthy tables, and vertigo-inducing animations||Refers to a Microsoft Office tool that can be used for either good or evil|
|The Next Button||Entrapment into a linear learning experience||A navigation feature which can be used alone or in conjunction with other navigation elements (may be considered as a sole navigation element in certain contexts, e.g., when learners have poor literacy)|
|Learners||“We’re patronizing them; they should be called people or workers”||Someone who learns: a term that does not imply weakness, applies to a variety of contexts (i.e., someone who teaches also can be a learner)|
|Teaching||An effort that’s not learner-centered||Includes both good and bad teaching so does include facilitating learner-centered experiences|
|Training||Used to mean bad training: push-only, lecture style training or linear elearning with multiple choice quizzing||Can be push or pull, blended or non-blended, synchronous or asynchronous; can include experiences and simulations; can be amazing and incredibly useful or dreadful and time wasting|
|Informal learning||A positive social experience where learners are self-directed, share skills and knowledge with others and pull content they need when and where they need it, using a variety of social platforms||Can include positive social experiences as described; can also be random, inefficient and lead to a least common denominator approach (outcome is very much dependent on culture, the individual learning community, and L&D community leaders)|
|Empowered||Receiving power only from someone else, viewed as patronizing||To obtain power (can be from someone else or from self)|
|Gamification||Ugh, Farmville, pointification, bad game design||Creating an experience with game-like elements whose primary purpose is not entertainment (e.g., such as games for learning, training, health care, social impact)|
What prompted me to write this post? I wanted to write another post about game design and realized I’d have to spend a few sentences explaining why I’m using the word “gamification” in a positive light.
So what am I wishing for this holiday season?
- That as readers, we become better “listeners”
- That as writers, we consider that words have nuances and those nuances are important
In this age of Twitter and microblogging, it’s not a bad thing to stop and take some time to allow people to use words in context so that we can gain better understanding. It might require more than one Tweet or engaging with someone in a conversation, but that’s a good thing.
And, yes, I probably will spend a few sentences in my next game design post explaining why I am using the word “gamification” in a positive light, but that’s because I’m not going to assume that my context is your context.
That is all (for now).