Words I don’t like: delivery (in an educational context)

September 20, 2011

Delivery: The action of handing over, or conveying into the hands of another; esp. the action of a carrier in delivering letters or goods entrusted to him for conveyance to a person at a distance (OED).

I know that I am not alone in my dislike of the word ‘Delivery’ in an educational development context. Delivery requires no knowledge of what is being delivered on the part of the deliverer. As a schoolboy I had a part-time job delivering newspapers. I would go down to local newsagents, he would give me the newspapers and a list and I would deliver the right newspaper the to right house. There were some basic skills or course — I needed to know how to read the list, know where I was going and have the ability to ride my bike around my route. However, I required no knowledge of the media industry or the events being written about in the newsletter. At no point was I asked my for my opinion on world events. My job was to carry a physical object (a newspaper) from one geographical location (newsagent) to another (the customer’s house).

I refuse to therefore to suggest that I deliver ‘training’, ‘development’, ‘a/ the curriculum’, CPD, courses etc. To deliver means to hand over a product from one party to another – a teacher/ lecturer/ educational developer needs to understand the content, be able to answer questions about the content and know the content well.


Words I don’t like 2: toolkit

May 12, 2011

Tools are only useful if you know how to use them. My problem with the way the term ‘toolkit’ is used in educational development is the implication that having some ‘tools’ is all that stands in the way of a novice gaining expertise in an area (e.g. student employability).

My home toolbox contains a coping saw. A coping saw is used to handsaw in unusual shapes (e.g. curves). From experience I know that they are very difficult to use. Tools are only useful is you a) have the right tools and b) know how and when to use them. Having the right tools is a first step towards mastery, but without any personal investment in learning how to use the tools the consequences can be unsightly and dangerous.

Words I don’t like 1: Training

April 27, 2011

There are quite a few words I don’t like when talking about educational development. ‘Training’ is among these words. Why do lecturers ‘teach’, but educational developers ‘train’? Why is somebody who teaches students a lecturer or a teacher, but anyone who teaches lecturers is deemed to be training rather than teaching?

The difference may seem insignificant to some but I passionately believe that higher education is a valid and legitimate field of study and there is no difference between those who teach and research about higher education and the things that go on in universities and those who teach and research about sociology, physics and nursing. This is why I like to see educational developers have job titles which indicate this (Lecturer/ Senior Lecturer. Professor etc.)