Amidst sudden school closures brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, many remote learning platforms are taking the virtual centre stage. What can the naming convention language of these brands tell us about their power to sustain learning in the current climate and beyond?

Familiar Tradition

Names of brand offerings like ‘Google Classroom’ and ‘Microsoft Teams’ recreate the collaborative shared space of school environments, whilst ‘Blackboard’ and ‘Khan’s Academy’ recall traditional scholastic icons – signalling academic rigour.   

Mobile Energy 

Platforms offering communication services, such as ‘Zoom’ and ‘Seesaw’, embody online movement from one space to another by evoking active dynamism. Linguistic references to ‘fire’ in ‘Fire Tech’ and ‘Firefly’ blend digital technology with elemental energy connoting a spirited, passionate drive for learning.

Cosmic Connectivity

Some brand names, such as ‘Thirdspace’, embrace and amplify the distance from the classroom to an extra-terrestrial scale. Along a similar theme, ‘Atom’ and ‘Twinkl’ draw on astronomical language of stars to connote immense power compacted into small pockets – coding the closed home learning space as an open frontier for exploration.

Who knows if school’s now out for summer or beyond, but the future of our understanding of learning will be altered by the meteoric rise of online platforms.


Lailah Choudhry, Semiotician

School’s (Not Quite) Out: The ABCs of learning platform naming conventions