The only TEL glossary you’ll ever need
Agile development – One of the three fundamental principles of TEL: incessant, inescapable and inexplicable changes in software, designed to keep users in a permanent state of confusion, thereby distracting them from their original purpose, which no-one can any longer recall. (See also ‘Business as usual’ and ‘SMART targets’).
AI– Avoidance of Interaction. Algorithmic systems of this kind are sometimes affectionately referred to as “intelligent”, demonstrating that their users have a sense of humour.
Android – A term of belittlement, implying that the subject is slightly less than human. Generally qualified by a denigratory food-related metaphor (e.g. cupcake, marshmallow, petit four).
AR – Adamant Refusal to believe real-world evidence. A popular idealist epistemology consisting of the projecting of hypothetical constructs onto real-world phenomena. AR proponents argue that the approach demonstrates the subjectivity of perception and ultimately truth. Opponents of AR advocate WYSIWYG realism (What You See Is What You Get), any other approach being dismissed as ‘pie in the sky’, which is the typical response of professional IT services to academic innovation generally (see also ‘ITS’ below).
ARS – Colloquial. Abbrev. of Latin aphorism ‘Ars longa, vita brevis’, meaning “life is too short to get these stupid clickers to work”.
Blog (weblog) – The state of being unable to commence a piece of online writing.
Business as usual – One of the three fundamental principles of TEL: more work for the same money and hours but with fewer people. (See also ‘Agile Development’ and ‘SMART targets’).
BYOD – The IT equivalent of ‘pick your own strawberries’. Very popular with IT Service Desk staff.
Chat – (Pronounced ‘sha’ à la française). Unruly, individualistic, feline animal, typically found in university classrooms. Notoriously resistant to herding and prone to loud, sumultaneous caterwauling when subjected to change.
CIO – Corporate Interference Officer. Important managerial position that exists to ensure that large sums of money are diverted from learning and teaching into inscrutably termed ‘business critical’ systems which no-one must ever fully understand.
Cloud computing – A popular managerial strategy for transferring responsibility for lost data, server downtime and security breaches to a third party.
COO – The sound emitted by a senior manager when unboxing a new digital gadget.
DDoS – Distributed Denial of Sanity. Temporary outbreak of mass hysteria, similar to Christmas. Precipitates a period of deep insecurity and intense soul-searching for a few and of mandatory idleness and celebration for many. Hence ddosser: someone who creates a lot of work for other people without contributing anything useful themselves. Also the acronym of the now defunct precursor to the Windows PC operating system (DeadDOS).
Dropbox – Acknowledged and incurable medical condition characterised by an excess of digital material gathering in file storage areas. Temporary palliative treatment includes appendage of peripheral devices and migration to the cloud.
e-Book, e-Learning, e-Portfolio e-Tc. – Archaic forms no longer in widespread use. The main purpose of the e- prefix was to attract attention to and funding for experimentation with computers by causing confusion over spelling (e-learning, elearning, e-Learning, Elearning, eLearning etc.). There have been other, largely unsuccessful, attempts to emulate the effectiveness of this technique, including my-, i- and you-. It is now recognised that the choice of label makes no significant difference to the student experience.
Flipped classroom – Paradoxically popular blended learning technique requiring approx. three times the work of traditional lecturing. Step 1: The teacher records their lecture on their office PC and uploads it to the VLE. This must be done in very short chunks because (i) their PC has insufficient capacity to store more than 2 minutes of video at a time and (ii) the audio has to be recorded separately in a sound-proofed room so as not to disturb colleagues. Step 2: the students ignore the pre-recorded lecture. Step 3: the teacher, having established that students have completed step 2, re-records the lecture in the lecture theatre*. Typical student feedback: “My teacher has flipped.”
GPS– Generally Poor Signposting. With the advent of vehicles and smart devices able to locate themselves via satellite, it has become unnecessary for humans to know where they are at any point during a journey. Signposting is thus also unnecessary.
GUI – Gaudy Use of Icons. The stock-in-trade of the professional web designer.
Haptic – Haptic feedback is the largely nostalgic, tactile sensation of writing comments with a pen on a printed student assignment. Highly prized among older-generation teachers, haptic feedback sensations are largely unfamiliar to present-day students who submit their work electronically and seldom handle it again directly. However, developers are confident that soon students will once again be able to enjoy a simulated haptic feedback experience through the wearing of special haptic gloves in Virtual Reality.
HCI – Human Computer Imprecation. An individual’s idiolect of verbal exclamations emitted when grappling with PC errors, slow-downs, crashes, unsolicited upgrades, privacy statements etc.. Predicated upon steadfast refusal to acknowledge one’s own errors.
HTML5 – A non-flashy, belt-and-braces, DIY approach to web page design, as in “Having Tried My Luck 5 times, I at last succeeded in aligning the bullet points”. Known for its intuitiveness, 5 is the minimum number of attempts required for any operation.
ICT – Information and Communication Technologies. Primitive euphemism no longer in use. Superceded in corporate management parlance by MIS (management Mis-Information Systems).
ITS – Professional IT Services; often referred to as ‘the pits’. (See also ‘AR’ above).
LA – Losing the Argument. The inevitable outcome of any attempt to dissuade disciples of this creed from the belief that learning outcomes can be predicted from quantitative data analysis and that human intuition should be expunged from the decision-making process.
Lecture Capture – The elusive art of the entrapment of lecturers caught in flagrante attempting to perpetrate authentic learning events. Strategies include inaudible sound, illegible text, over-exposure, camera shake, extremes of volume change and long periods of wall-staring with noises off. Echo 360 is the apt trade name of one commonly used lecture capture system.
LMS – Lowering My Sights. Cheap and cheerful alternative to the fully immersive, multi-media VLE (see below) for time-pressured academics. Also known as lecture note dump.
Maintenance Mode – The moment of silence during a software upgrade during which users fondly recall the features they have grown to love before the new version breaks them.
Media-sharing websites – Emancipatory websites such as Flickr® and YouTube that enable digital amateurs to flaunt their limitations with pride.
MP3 – A handy digital audio format with which one can enjoy music of inferior audio quality, without liner notes or artwork and without paying royalties to the musicians.
MUD – Massive User Disillusionment. The phenomenon associated with the adoption of new software for which many claims have been made without appropriate documentation or communication. Typical user feedback would include statements such as “The benefits of the new platform are as clear as mud”.
OLAF – OnLine Assessment Freeze. A common and fortunately temporary state of paralysis brought on by an excess of online marking.
Open source software – Software for which anyone can write plugins which no-one maintains.
Podcast – (verb). What you do to your mobile device when it repeatedly malfunctions or when you accidentally invert the open pocket in which you have been carrying it. (See also ‘Screencast’).
Portal – A small window through which a sea of information and services can be glimpsed but not accessed.
Project creep – Important member of any project team whose role it is to ensure that a project report contains only those outcomes desired by the sponsors rather than any wider, more useful conclusions.
QR Code – Quite Relevant Code. A kind of barcode used by advertisers to persuade customers to purchase a product or service. The technique consists of providing apparently insufficient information on the physical product itself, thus prompting the customer to point their mobile phone at the barcode to obtain essentially the same, quite relevant but useless information dressed up as an exclusive app.
RSS feed – Really Sophisticated Seed feeder. Perfect for back-garden bird watchers, this clever mechanism for aggregating a variety of food sources in one convenient dispenser, will have your avian friends hooked: they’ll keep coming back for more.
SaaS – On that rare occasion when cloud computing doesn’t quite meet your needs, a Simple alternative analogue Solution may be the option for you. Frustrated that you cannot quite achieve the subtlety of shading you are seeking in your digital drawing? Try a pencil.
Screencast – (verb). The act of filming yourself podcasting your device. (See ‘Podcast’).
Smartphone – A sophisticated mobile device with advanced computing abilities such as internet and web-browsing, Wi-Fi and broadband access, portable media players, video calling, cameras, a touch-sensitive screen, GPS navigation and the ability to run vitally unimportant software known as apps. Seldom used to make telephone calls, except when driving.
SMART targets – One of the three fundamental principles of TEL: the aspiration to set development targets that are Seldom Marred by Analysis, Reason or Theory. (See also ‘Agile Development’ and ‘Business as usual’.)
Social media – The collective name for a family of viruses that are transmitted harmlessly among populations through the exchange of comic images of cats, plagiarised epithets known as memes, leering photographic self-portraits and stylised graphic representations of simple sentiments, known as emoticons or emojis. Reported side effects include: instant dissemination of fake news, the fomenting of radicalised opinion, the obfuscation of fact and mistrust of science, the claiming of freedoms without responsibilities and the undermining of democratic processes.
TEF – Technology Enhanced Fitness. The name given to the voluntary exercise regime which Universities and Colleges are required to put themselves through by the government’s Office for Students. Failure to achieve the required level is indicated by the award of a silver or bronze medal.
Thin client – The more astute half of a typical business partnership; seeks to do as little work as possible, always claiming to have insufficient resources. The other, less astute partner, known as the thick client, ends up doing the “heavy lifting” without realising it, often having to continue working offline in order to complete a task in time.
Upgrade – The primary weapon for enforcement of the Agile Development principle.
USB – Universal Sense of Blankness. The mental state induced by futile attempts to locate a mislaid peripheral storage device containing Powerpoint slides prior to an important lecture. Also aptly termed ‘memory stick’.
VLE – Virtual Light Entertainment. It is the responsibility of every lecturer to create an engaging, inclusive, personalised, multi-modal, potentially transformative experience for every student, with all required information just a click away: fully transcribed lecture recordings, bite-sized chunks of easily digested information for flipped classroom interaction, model essay answers, non-threatening quizzes etc. Instead they provide a VLE. The VLE is in decline following numerous reported cases of fatal scrolling injuries resulting from its misuse.
VR – The desire to escape from the real world by donning an uncomfortable and ungainly pair of outsized goggles with zero visibility. Known side effects include nausea, bruising and breakage of family heirlooms.
Wi-Fi – The sign ‘Wi-Fi free’ denotes an area or location in which visitors are allowed to concentrate on a single activity such as eating, drinking or socialising for more than two minutes, without becoming distracted by a computer or other mobile digital device.
Wiki – One third of Julius Caesar’s famous pronouncement wini, widi, wiki (pron. weeni, weedi, weeki). Used by team leaders to denounce the inadequacy of other team members’ contributions to collaborative online groupwork.