The A-Z of EdTech Literacy: Letters N-P

Click here to access all of the articles in this series. In this series, we are discussing all of the terms, concepts, and technologies that you need to know to be literate in all things edtech. In the previous article, I introduced letters G-M and in this one, I will discuss letters N-P.

Natural user interfaces. In its simplest definition, a natural user interface (NUI) uses the body’s movements to achieve certain outcomes. In the consumer market, examples of NUIs include the Nintendo® WiiTM, Xbox KinectTM, and the iPhone virtual assistant, Siri. The potential in the field of K–12 education is still being realized but will certainly lead to developments in the next half-decade. Students who are blind, deaf, or have physical disabilities or autism can better learn through the use of this still evolving technology.

Next Generation Science Standards. NGSS have been developed by education experts in several states. They are not an official part of the new Common Core standards but are meant to layer on top of the standards in place for stronger science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) outcomes. These standards are intended to teach the overlapping nature of science subjects, rather than to present lessons in topic isolation. In states like California, the value of a strong STEM foundation is critical to individual and state success. Over the past decade, STEM jobs have grown at a rate three times faster than other industries. By equipping K-12 students with better STEM knowledge, the long-term economic outlook will improve.

Open-source software. refers to software that is usually free of charge to the public, with the source code available for modification and use.

Online courses. Not every student has the luxury of being able to afford to live on campus and attend college full-time.  Nor, in today’s flexible climate with people still chasing the American dream, are college rosters comprised solely of recent high school graduates.  In many situations, therefore, online education is an ideal opportunity.  Online colleges offer flexible schedules to accommodate other responsibilities and commitments, the lower overall cost to students, and the ability to telecommute from wherever you are to whatever institution in which you wish to enroll.  With online educational portals such as BlackBoard, Moodle, and Google Classroom, it is easy to receive instruction, turn in work, and collaborate with the professor and other students through a digital medium.

Personalized learning. The idea behind personalized learning is simple. Students guide their own learning, going at their own pace and, in some cases, making their own decisions about what to learn. Ideally, in a classroom using personalized learning, students choose what they’re interested in, and teachers fit the curriculum and standards to the students’ interests. This type of learning completely reverses the traditional structure of the classroom. Instead of the teacher being the center of attention and leader of the classroom, the students are in the spotlight. Personalized learning gives students a voice and allows them to take ownership of their education. For teachers who want to bring more personalized learning into their own classrooms, it can seem intimidating. Giving up control of the classroom can be scary. Teachers might wonder, will the students really get engaged? Will they learn everything they need to know for the tests at the end of the year? Will I completely lose control over my classroom? Personalized learning doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Teachers can start by talking a little less and letting students have more of a voice. Allowing students to make some choices in the classroom can have a powerful effect.

Well, that’s it for N-P. Did we miss any?

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