Never Mind the Buzztech. Why Edupunk is Still Relevant for Learning Technologists.

Let’s explore Edupunk

What is Edupunk? Edupunk could be argued to be an approach to pedagogy that involves a do-it-yourself philosophy whilst embracing a rebellion towards tools used in a wider capacity and a rejection of commercial approaches. It has been referred to as an “…ideology referring to educators and education strategies with a do it yourself (DIY) spirit” (Lam in Wheeler, 2008). The New York Times defined Edupunk as …”an approach to teaching that avoids mainstream tools like PowerPoint and Blackboard, and instead aims to bring the rebellious attitude and D.I.Y. ethos of “70s bands like the Clash to the classroom” (The New York Times, 2008). Perhaps it is the case that “…true Edupunks deride definitions as tools of oppression used by defenders of order and conformity” (Downes, 2008). It is possible to access a series of five YouTube videos entitled EDUPUNK Battle Royale where you can hear Jim explore Edupunk. In ‘EDUPUNK Battle Royale – Part 1’, Jim explored Edupunk as a “metaphor” (Groom in educoz, 2009). Whilst “Metaphors are not just a matter of language…” we could ask what Edupunk really is (Johnson & Lakoff, 1980: p6). Perhaps Edupunk is more, a “meme”, “ideology”, “‘stylistic approach” and a “Zeitgeist moment” (Groom in educoz, 2009). However, we choose to define Edupunk, the term Edupunk has been “…widely discussed in educational-technology circles-with some people excited about it, and others arguing that professors should use tools provided…” (Young, 2009)

What links music and learning technology?

The critical question is: what did punk got to do with learning technology?

Wheeler (2013) created a YouTube video to explore Edupunk. He explained that punk has a number of characteristics: loud, subversive and energy, about doing things for yourself. It could be argued that in the same way that the music in the 1970s was in need of revitalisation and was re-energised by punk music, our “tired education system” was brought to life by Edupunk too (Wheeler, 2013). He asks the critical question show is punk relevant to education? He identifies that Edupunk is about being a “self-starter”, and rejecting centralised controlled systems (Wheeler, 2013). It is about embracing the ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ approach in terms of making the most of what you have to create learning experiences. Wheeler draws on  Levi-Strauss’ (1962) notion of bricolage as being a way to making the most of what is available to enable the creation of something else from The Savage Mind (1962) Perhaps this is what good educators do without realising (Levi-Strauss, 1962 in Wheeler, 2013). According to Mambrol (2016) the bricoleur is concerned with “mythological narratives” and the conversely the engineer with the “scientific mind” (Mambrol, 2016). To some extent, perhaps Learning Technologists are bricoleurs and digital engineers. We have to work with the tools we have to enhance teaching and learning with technology.

The next critical question is: what does Edupunk still got to do with learning technology now?

Wheeler (2013) also identifies Edupunk as being about rhizomatic learning, personalised education, taking ownership of your own learning and traditional learning identities and relationships can change (Wheeler, 2013). All of these things are still important to Learning Technologists now. It could be argued that Edupunk is fundamentally against techno-capitalism. This is still a challenge. In a blog post in 2008, Wheeler also discusses how Edupunk “stalks” the institution due to social network tools and free platforms (Wheeler, 2008). To some extent, Edupunk is still challenging institutions. “Anarchists take into account that knowledge is produced through situated processes” (Haworth, 2012: p6). How do we want to produce knowledge?. It can be argued that anarchism can divide opinion. It can be perceived as “…a sign of intellectual bankruptcy; by others as a sort of treason, a desertion of the democratic front…by still others as merely poetic nonsense” (Read, 1974: p56 in Suissa, 2006: p1).

(Lim in Wheeler, 2008) Image available here.

Jim Groom (@jimgroom) who is organising the OER Open Education Conference this year is pictured in the image and is credited for creating the notion of Edupunk (Ebner, 2009). He argues that Edupunk has “hit a nerve” and provides us with a critical space to think about “how we think about our learning in terms of our culture” and “brings the logic of culture back into teaching and learning” (Groom in educoz, 2009).

The final critical question is: what does edupunk still got to do with learning technology?

Drawing on Edupunk as an approach to open education can be a constructive foundation on which to base best practice in terms of both working with what we have and sharing what we can. Edupunk is still unequivocally still relevant. Perhaps this could the age of Neo-EduPunk or Post Digital EduPunk? For me, being a Learning Technologist is about being equally critical as enthusiastic about educational technology. Cole (2005) describes the power struggle between the cyberpunk and the megacorporations where “power is imposed by a system of social domination” (Cole, 2005: p259 in Eli, 2017). Edupunk can give us a space to think about open education. It can be exciting to be one of the “…rebellious professors who were interested in deconstructing education from the inside” (Kamenetz, 2011). Is it possible to be a polite techno-anarchist? Jim, if you are reading this, “The fluorescent lighted space of the LMS” could be the title next punk album and I would love to be a part of it (Groom in educoz, 2009).

A Quotation from Jim Groom in the YouTube video by educoz (2009) EDUPUNK Battle Royale – Part 1. Hear him discuss Edupunk here.

If you want to find out more about Edupunk, heck out The Edupunks’ Guide by Anya Kamenetz (2011) here and her blog DIY-U here. Kamenetz also has a book with a helpful resource guide for Do-It-Yourself Education (Kamenetz, 2010: p136).

How about being a Stem Punk? Or hopepunk (Nørgård, 2021). Or even Zoompunk?


Association of Learning Technology (ALT) (n.d.) OERxDomains Conference (Online) Available at: [Accessed 22 February 2021]

Downes, S (2008) Introducing Edupunk Knowledge Learning Community blog [blog] (Online) available at: [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Ebner, M (2009) Edupunk possible in Higher Education environments? Presentation for the Online Round Table on 6th April 2009  (Online) available at: [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Educoz (2009) EDUPUNK Battle Royale – Part 1 (Online) Available at: [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Eli’s EDC Blog (2017)Taking Cyberpunks out of the Dystopia. Digital Education Blog. [blog] 17 April (Online) Available at: [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Haworth, R, H (ed) (2012) Anarchist Pedagogies: Collective Actions, Theories, and Critical Reflections on Education (Oakland: CA Press)

Johnson, M, Lakoff, G (1980) Metaphors We Live By (Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press)

Kamenetz, A (2010) DIY U. Education Blog. [blog] (Online) Available at: [Accessed 22 February 2021]

Kamenetz, A (2010) Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education (White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing Company)

Kamenetz, A (2011) Edupunks Revisited in elearn Magazine (Online) Available at: [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Mambrol, N (2016) Claude Levi Strauss’ Concept of Bricolage. Literary blog. [blog] 21 March (Online) Available at: [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Nørgård, T, T (2021) What comes after the ruin? Speculative design for preferable university futures [Online]. in PaTHES Fall 2021 Thematic Webinar Series on “Foresight, speculative design and preferable higher education futures. September 2021.

Levi-Strauss, C (1962) The Savage Mind [pdf] (Online) Available at: [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Kultz, T (2008) The Buzz for ‘Edupunk’ Ideas Blog [blog] Oct 17 (Online) Available at: [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Smashwords (2021) The Edupunks’ Guide to a DIY Credential (Online) Available at: [Accessed 22 February 2021]

STEM Punks Ventures Pty Ltd (2021) STEM Punks (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 1September 2021]

Steve Wheeler (2013) 3 things you should know about Edupunk. (Online) Available at:  [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Suissa, J (2006) Anarchism and Education A philosophical Perspective (London & New York: Routledge)

Wheeler, S (2013) 3 things you should know about edupunk. Learning Technology blog [blog] 8 Aug (Online) Available at: [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Wheeler, S (2008) Edupunk stalks the institution… Learning Technology blog [blog] 11 Dec (Online) Available at  [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Young (2009) Technologist who coined ‘Edupunk’ defends the Term in a Video Debate. Higher Education Blog [blog] Mar 3 (Online) Available at:[Accessed 18 February 2021]

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