What’s in a word?

Merriam-Webster released its Word of the Year today for 2011 – Pragmatic. A word meaning “practical as opposed to idealistic”. I can’t help but think about how this applies to academic integrity in education today. “Pragmatic is not associated with any one event but instead describes “an admirable quality that people value in themselves and wish for in others, especially in their leaders and their policies,” said Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster. “It’s a word that resonates with society as a whole; something people want to understand fully.” In the context of the cheating headlines (and events) that have festooned our digital windows this year, I think the word ‘cheating’ should probably share the marquis – as it’s certainly one that has resonated with academic institutions, and as Sokolowski stated ‘society as a whole’.

Earlier this year, a great NYT article ‘To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test‘ the author, Pam Belluck cited new research that suggests that “taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, it actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques.”

Optimistically speaking, perhaps the fallout from all of this could be achievement through honesty and academic integrity? After all, to cheat or not to cheat might be the question, but we’re hoping that the parry to it in 2012 might be ‘It is far nobler to learn’.

Ok, maybe it is a *little* idealistic, but in the spirit of a pragmatic – in a word.

What are your top words for Distance Education in 2012 and why? We’d love to hear from you.

-Allison Sands, Director of Marketing

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