Understanding the world “in plain English”

With the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, the language of the Internet has changed.  We now have wikis, blogs, Google Docs, Twitter, cloud computing, social networking, social bookmarking, podcasting and so much more.  It can be hard to keep up with all of the new terminology, let alone understand conceptually how a blog differs from a wiki.  One useful resource is the host of In Plain English videos that are on YouTube.  Created by a company called Common Craft, the In Plain English videos explain high tech or challenging concepts in really low tech ways.  Using paper cut outs, dry erase markers and not so invisible strings, Lee and Sachi LeFever explain topics ranging from the Electoral College to the Stock Market to Augmented Reality. Over the years, I’ve used the In Plain English videos in my online and face-to-face classes, on this blog and even in scholarly presentations.  The videos are easy to follow and understand.  Some viewers may complain that the videos don’t teach viewers how to use any specific technology.  That’s not really the objective.  The videos are designed so viewers can grasp the topic and understand it conceptually.   To get a sense of how accessible the In Plain English videos are, check out this video on how Twitter functions:

Or check out this not-so-academic, but very humorous video on zombies:

The videos can all be found on the Common Craft YouTube channel or purchased at their website.  The videos would be great resources to use with students when introducing a new instructional technology or as a way to bridge a conceptual gap that may exist in the ever-changing world of technospeak.  Presented in an easy to understand format, the videos explain topics “in plain English.”


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