Frustrated With Corporate Course-Management Systems, Some Professors Go ‘Edupunk’

A group of tech-savvy professors are claiming punk music as inspiration for their approach to teaching. They call their approach Edupunk.

Punk rock was a rebellion against the clean, predictable sound of popular music and it also encouraged a do-it-yourself attitude. Edupunk seems to be a reaction against the rise of course-managements systems, which offer cookie-cutter tools that can make every course Web site look the same.

Jim Groom, an instructional-technology specialist and adjunct professor at the University of Mary Washington, coined the term, and this week on his blog he declared himself a poster boy for the movement. He says he is worried that Blackboard’s latest release, which attempts to incorporate the latest social-networking tools, will end up presenting a watered-down version of what pioneers of Web 2.0 technologies have done in their experiments.

It appears that Mr. Groom and others are still working out exactly what Edupunk means (Stephen Downes gives a good overview of the buzz on his blog). Leslie Madsen Brooks, of the BlogHer blog, says the term captures the “scrappy, DIY spirit in some sectors of educational technology.”

Dave Warlick, who runs a technology consulting firm called The Landmark Project, riffed on that thought by adding: “I do not have any real objection to corporate embrace of these tools. We’re all trying to make a living. What worries me, though, is school officials hearing the buzz, and thinking that they can buy their way into the crowd, rather than learning their way in.”—Jeffrey R. Young

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