I know that most readers at Fractus are probably pretty tech-savvy, but still, some may not quite be to that level yet. The worst part about it is that the technology world moves so fast and changes so rapidly that the jargon and slang is extremely hard to keep up with, even for people who try to pay close attention.
So today I thought I’d bring you a mini-encyclopedia or mini-dictionary of sorts, where I’ll lay out some of the more confusing technology terms that educators will encounter on a regular basis. I’ll do my best to explain them as well, so you can at least sound knowledgeable if you are, say, stuck in a conversation with someone who knows a lot about technology. Here we go!
Read as “one to one.” This simply means a school district or other environment (such as a lab) that has one computer or other device for every student, thus making the device-to-person ratio 1:1. Many schools in the K-12 arena are currently attempting to better integrate technology into their curriculum by “going 1:1.”
This is an educational practice which uses computers as interactive instructional devices. The programs adapt the difficulty and/or style of educational material according to the particular needs of each student (determined by their responses to questions and tasks in the program).
For example, a math application that detects when some students are having trouble with division and then has those students spend more time reviewing it would be considered adaptive.
A traditional classroom is an example of “synchronous learning,” where all students learn the same things at the same time and in the same place. Asynchronous learning is the opposite of that. Using the power of the Internet, students can now learn different things whenever they want and wherever they want, hence the term “asynchronous.”
Short for “Acceptable Use Policy.” The AUP is a document most likely produced by the school’s Board of Education. It specifies what a district’s staff and students may or may not do on the school’s network. Students (and often their parents as well) are usually required to sign one of these at the start of every school year.
Blended learning is exactly what it sounds like: a teaching method that combines traditional classroom instruction with online or mobile learning activities.
“The cloud” is not one single device or location. Rather, it is a metaphor for on-demand storage space or computing power managed by a third party. Dropbox’s syncing application is a good example of a “cloud” service, since your files are copied up to their servers and then back down to all of your devices with Dropbox installed.
Check out this video for a more in-depth explanation of what “the cloud” can do.
CMS stands for Content Management System. CMS’s are essentially software or web applications that allow you to publish and edit content from one central interface. They also usually allow for collaborative editing, standalone pages, and other features. WordPress, the open-source blogging software, is a popular CMS.
Differentiated learning is a teaching method that adjusts the presentation of the instructional material to better suite each individual student. While the learning goals are the same for all, some students learn differently than others, and so differentiated learning seeks to meet each student halfway, as it were, rather that force all the students to learn via the same method.
Digital citizenship means making good use of the Internet and having knowledge of how to operate web-connected devices safely while online. It also means that you can effectively use technology to interact responsibly with others to engage in society, politics, or other public discussion.
The term digital divide is used to refer to a large gap in technology use between two groups. The two groups can be divided along economic, racial, age, or even gender lines. For example, Americans 55 and older report using the Internet the least out of all age groups, while those 18-24 report using the Internet the most [source]. This could be said to be a “digital divide.”
In education specifically, the “digital divide” most often refers to a divide in technology use along economic lines.
Digital literacy is the ability to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate, and create information using a range of digital technologies. For example, you know your Aunt Sue who always forwards you those emails because she thinks she’d be cursed otherwise? She wouldn’t exactly be digitally literate.
On the other hand, someone who knows not to trust everything they read online or who knows how to edit an article on Wikipedia might be called digitally literate.
A “flipped classroom” is one in which teachers do not simply lecture to students for the entire class period. Rather, teachers work with students to solve problem sets or otherwise directly interact with the students. What would traditionally be a face-to-face lecture is then (at least in many cases) recorded and posted online for the students to watch as “homework.”
Thus the traditional-lecture-at-school-and-do-problems-at-home model is inverted, or “flipped.”
This acronym stands for “Google Apps for Education,” a popular Internet-based suite of applications designed specifically for schools. It features email, document creation and collaboration, and many other tools that districts find useful.
Gamification, while it may be somewhat of a mouthful, is actually a pretty simple concept: it’s the making of boring, everyday, or ordinary activities into a game-like activity. iCivics is a perfect example of gamification; they’ve taken something many students would bristle at (learning about the federal budget) and made it into a fun and educational game.
LMS is short for Learning Management System. An LMS is a piece of software that is capable administering, documenting, and tracking classroom activities. Teachers and staff often use LMS’s to make their work more efficient, as well as to increase student engagement. Schoology is one example of an LMS.
Short for “mobile learning”, m-learning simply means any learning activity that takes place on a mobile device.The word “mobile” is also relative; it could mean a laptop, a tablet, or something even smaller and more mobile, like a cellphone.
MOOC stands for “Massively open online course.” These are becoming more and more popular lately as several Ivy League universities have started offering some of their coursework online. Coursera and Udacity are two of the biggest MOOC websites.
A podcast is similar to a radio show: they’re audio-only “shows” distributed not via radio waves, but via the Internet. There are podcasts on an unlimited number of topics, and many are educational and appropriate for students. Check out our favorites in these two posts.
Have you ever seen one of those weird square boxes that looks like it’s full of static?
That’s a QR code! It’s sort of like a barcode, and it can hold almost any text, links, or information you want. Scan ours with an app on your phone and see what happens! You can generate your own here.
A wiki is a website that allows anyone to add, modify, or delete information from it. Wikipedia is one of these, hence it’s name. Wikis are often used to develop encyclopedia-like knowledge bases on particular topics, like math or even video games. Many schools use wikis for internal projects and student websites.
So that is twenty of the most common and high impact terms relating to applicable and innovative education technology. But, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Drop us a comment below and add the terms you hear creating confusion in the classroom.