Reclaiming the language of learning

Neil Selwyn
Neil Selwyn’s ‘bullshit bingo’ card

Being a student at a research conference like Networked Learning 2014 is a bit like being the bloke from work who the bride and groom invited to the wedding but they didn’t actually expect to turn up. You get the feeling that absolutely everyone else knows each other, you’re not sure who to talk to and you don’t get some of the jokes. Make that all of the jokes.

Anyway, one of the main things I left the conference with was the sense of universities needing to push back against critics and reclaim certain terms like equity, freedom of thought and independence, which MOOC providers and for-profit educators seem to be appropriating to serve their own ends. That won’t happen if everyone rushes to comply with Coursera’s definition of what constitutes a 21st-century course, for example. But it might happen if we disrupt and challenge that definition; if our course design engages with technology, rather than being defined by it. And if we reframe the conversation around research rather than business models.

Also, some of the people in the room and following the Twitter feed really didn’t take kindly to Neil Selwyn exhorting them to be critical in his keynote. You can get a flavour of the debate at


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