If you still think MOOC is a buzzword, you couldn’t be more wrong. Here are the higher education buzzwords and phrases that some like to call “edubabble.”

higher-education-buzzwordsFor those critics who say education moves at a snail’s pace, they’re wrong…at least when it comes to terminology—and technology-based terminology, especially. From buzzwords to phrases higher-ed speakers and leaders love to use, it seems there’s a whole new vocabulary—that some call “edubabble”—developed every couple of years.

(Case in point: Look at our somewhat outdated buzzword list from just two years ago: http://ecampusnews.eschoolmedia.com/technologies/buzzwords-technology-311/)

What’s interesting to note in these higher education buzzwords and phrases of 2015 is that many are either directly technology-related or are based on new technology functionalities. And while online learning, lifelong learner, data-driven, adaptive and the like are still in use today, we hope you enjoy this updated list that focuses more on up-and-coming trends-based words and phrases, often collected at national conferences and one-to-one interviews.

Can you think of any buzz words or phrases that didn’t make the list? Do you have a favorite one you love to hate? Or perhaps one you hate but can’t stop yourself from using? Leave your comments in the section below or email me at mstansbury@ecampusnews.com.

(Listed in alphabetical order)

1.Between Four Walls: A security phrase that’s slowly going up the popularity ladder, “between four walls” means the antiquated way of looking at an institution’s data security. From student data to research data, moving to cloud platforms and online networks means security can no longer be thought of as managing security between four walls. Instead, security should be comprehensive, yet allow institutional ease-of-access accomplished through a layered approach.

(Next page: Higher education buzzwords 2-6)

2.Breach: This is also a higher education buzzword used heavily by the media. Why? Because it incites panic. In fact, CIOs are so tired of hearing the word “breach” in meetings with concerned stakeholders that some are asking that the word disappear entirely to be replaced with “incident.” “Everyone is using the word ‘breach’ now and there’s a culture of panic around it,” said Patrick Feehan, director of IT Policy and Cybersecurity Compliance for Montgomery College. “But really it should be ‘incident,’ because no matter what protection you have, something will usually occur at some point somewhere in the system. What’s important is to minimize ‘dwell time,’ or how long the hacker is within the system, and that can only happen by integrating a wholistic strategy—especially as we move to the cloud.”

3.Change Management: We’re not gonna’ lie, this might even be a topic in our 2016 editorial calendar. Listening to leadership and CIOs at universities like Harvard and Princeton, you’d expect technical issues to be the biggest challenges in new initiatives…but you’d be wrong. “Change Management” is cited by IT and institutional leaders alike as one of the biggest headaches—and opportunities for improvement—in new tech-based programs and projects.

4.Collaborative: Once relegated to describing student group work, collaborative is now being used to describe a complete shift in higher-ed operations. From collaboration between departments and faculty and staff, to collaboration among different institutions and institutions with business, “collaborative” is higher education’s new lifeline to the future.

5.Competency-Based Education (CBE): As the tide turns against standard measures of student competency (think SATs) thanks to low numbers of grads in jobs post-graduation, colleges and universities are abuzz with the idea of competency-based education (CBE)…if they can figure out the pesky credit hour and regulatory red tape. However, companies and non-profits are currently developing new frameworks that could help CBE become a major player in even traditional institutions, and ed-tech companies are quickly developing new solutions for seamless CBE integration.

6.Differentiate, AKA Brand: After attending the EDUCAUSE conference this year, where most panelists used either “differentiate” or “brand” to explain the impetus behind major initiatives, the word is buzzing at every institution across the country. Just like in any competitive market, higher ed knows that in order to keep admissions up and improve retention, differentiating it’s “services” and “branding” are critical. In fact, it’s so prevalent tha it was a key theme for every trend listed in EDUCAUSE’s 2016 trends report.

(Next page: Buzzwords 7-10)

7.Flexible: Legacy systems are quickly becoming clunkers of the past, and that not only includes technical systems but campus operations. Talk to any bigwig CTO and a discussion around “flexible infrastructure,” in both data and cloud platforms often factors in. Talk to any CIO and flexible funding practices for flexible systems are hot button issues.

8.IoT: Believe it or not, Internet-of-Things is already on its way out! But so goeth IT-based terminology. Be prepared within the next year or so to see a shift from IoT to IoE: Internet-of-Everything, otherwise known as “the machines are taking over.”

9.ROI (outside of finances): Institutions are using ROI to mean any initiative or strategy that accomplishes goals for the institution, including boosting retention, increasing admissions, furthering branding, etc.

10.Service-Oriented: No, we’re not talking about community service or a Jesuit university. From IT departments saying that they’re moving from a tech department to a services department, and from institutional leadership spearheading initiatives that “benefit constituents” (aka students), college and universities know that the key to survival in the future is to become a place where students and talented staff get what they want when they want it.

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