Vocabulary is defined as a body of familiar words within a person's language. Vocabulary is ever-changing and ever-growing; it can be enhanced by adopting habits such as reading, playing word games, and using a dictionary.
Did you know that different knowledge domains, fields of study, professions and occupations have their own niche vocabulary? That’s right. The fields of sports and engineering, as an example, have sets of words that are specifically used in these domains. This brings us to the next question - do you think you know the vocabulary of education?
This edition of ‘Vocabulary Matters’ has been specifically curated for educators. It contains words and phrases that are commonly used in education. Some of these you may know and some may be new to you but all are important. Do check them out. You may be surprised to learn that you didn’t quite know the right meaning of some of these. For example, how is ‘curriculum’ different from ‘syllabus’? What is being designed in ‘design thinking’? So, read on and polish up your educator vocabulary because it matters!

1. Pedagogy

The method and practice of teaching.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, pedagogy is the “art, science, or profession of teaching; especially education.” This definition covers many aspects of teaching, but pedagogy really comes down to studying teaching methods.

Pedagogy in education can either be teacher-focused or learner-focused with a low or high technology approach. Teacher-focused learning centralizes on the teacher sharing knowledge and content through direct instruction. Student-focused learning directs the student to be an active participant in their own learning process.

Pedagogy in education concentrates on the different learning styles of students. Finding out how students learn helps teachers teach in a way that helps each student learn in the way they learn best.

2. Curriculum

The subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college.

Curriculum refers to the subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college. This word is often mistakenly used synonymously with syllabus. Curriculum contains the overall content as provided by an education board for a particular course spanning across a stipulated time period. Syllabus explains the summary of different topics covered or the units that will be taught in a specific subject or discipline under that particular course.

3. Asynchronous Learning

Methods of education or instruction that enable learners to access materials, content, and resources at their own pace and schedule.

Asynchronous learning is a general term used to describe forms of education, instruction, and learning that do not occur in the same place or at the same time. Asynchronous learning uses resources that facilitate information sharing outside the constraints of time and place among a network of people. Common methods of asynchronous online learning include self-guided lesson modules, pre-recorded video content, virtual libraries, online lecture notes, and online discussion boards or social media platforms. This type of learning is very student centric or focussed.

4. Synchronous Learning

Methods of education or instruction that require the teacher/instructor and the student/learner to interact in real-time.

Synchronous learning refers to a learning event in which a group of students are interacting with an instructor in real time and engaging in learning. In these courses, instructors commonly take attendance, same as they would in a classroom or lecture hall. Common methods of synchronous online learning include video conferencing, teleconferencing, live chatting, and live-streamed lectures that must be viewed in real time.

5. Design Thinking

A design approach that focuses on understanding the end user of a product and solving the problems and challenges that could be encountered by the user to design a product.

Design thinking is an approach to learning that focuses on developing students' creative confidence, and hands-on approaches to defining and solving challenges. Teachers and students focus on understanding the end user of a product or service and developing empathy towards the user. Teachers then promote a bias toward action, encourage ideation, and support students in developing metacognitive awareness and fostering radical collaboration. In education, a design thinking curriculum immerses students and teachers (i.e., the designers) in real-world problem solving.

6.Virtual Learning Environment

A platform used for delivering learning materials to students via the web.

A virtual learning environment (VLE) in educational technology is a web-based platform used for the digital aspects of courses of study, usually within educational institutions. VLE helps educators to create, store and disseminate content. VLE isn’t a replacement to a traditional classroom. It only enhances the teaching-learning process by making the student-teacher digital workflow seamless.

7. Adaptive Learning

Responsive educational experiences that adapt to individual students’ levels thereby providing a customised experience.

Adaptive learning — or adaptive teaching — is the delivery of custom learning experiences that address the unique needs of an individual through just-in-time feedback, pathways, and resources (rather than providing a one-size-fits-all learning experience). It also is one technique for providing personalized learning by incorporating a variety of content formats to support students according to their learning needs. At its core, adaptive learning allows students to select the steps or pathways they want to pursue rather than having it dictated to them.

8. Blended Learning

A style of education that combines online and in-learning modes of teaching and learning.

The term blended learning is generally applied to the practice of using a combination of online and in-person learning experiences when teaching students. In a blended learning course, for example, students might attend a class taught by a teacher in a traditional classroom setting, while also independently completing online components of the course outside of the classroom. In this case, in-class time may be either replaced or supplemented by online learning experiences, and students would learn about the same topics online as they do in class—i.e., the online and in-person learning experiences would parallel and complement one another.Also called hybrid learning and mixed-mode learning, blended-learning experiences may vary widely in design and execution from school to school.

9. Learning Management System (LMS)

Software tools and platforms that enable educational institutions to administer and manage various aspects of educational instruction and assessment.

A learning management system (LMS) is a collection of software tools providing an online environment for course interactions. An LMS allows instructors and institutions to manage a variety of courses with a large number of students and multiple instructional materials. LMS is a great way to track various elements of classroom management such as documentation, assessments and reports, and the automation and delivery of educational courses and training programs.

10. Flipped Classroom

A type of blended learning in which students are introduced to content at home and practice working through it at school.

As the term indicates, a flipped classroom is a reversed classroom. In a traditional classroom, students are t aught concepts/theory by the instructors during live class time and they complete homework which is essentially an application of what they have learned independently at home. In a flipped classroom, students study the concepts/theory at home and work on live problem-solving during class time. This is an instructional strategy and a type of blended learning that has been shown to increase student engagement and learning.

11. Differentiated Learning

Instruction that is tailored or customised to meet individual learners’ needs, preferences, and goals.

Differentiated instruction (DI) involves giving students choices about how to learn and how to demonstrate their learning, this evening the playing field for everyone. While the goals for the group of students remind the same, a teacher uses various resources and approaches to connect in different ways with individual students. Teachers differentiate by modifying the content (what is being taught), the process (how the content is taught) or the product (how students demonstrate their learning). Having choices helps boost student engagement in the learning. Whether teachers differentiate content, processes, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction.

12. Individualized Learning

Instruction that allows individual learners to progress through the curriculum at their own pace.

Individualized learning is essentially instruction that is tailored to students’ strengths and weaknesses and uses strategies based on student readiness, interests, and best practices. When students complete an assignment, their performance on the task dictates whether they will move forward to more challenging assignments or be given additional practice to strengthen skills they’ll need to accomplish more long-term goals. Their progress is continuously monitored, and steps are taken by their teacher to help them fill in any gaps that appear along the way.

13. Personalized Learning

Learning that is customized to the preferences and interests of students combined with instruction that is paced to students’ unique needs.

Personalized learning is an approach that not only allows but also encourages students to learn in a way that suits their unique preferences and abilities for digesting and building upon the information they receive in the classroom. It can be thought of as a combination of both differentiated and individualized learning. Lessons are taught in a way that takes into account the needs and interests of individual students, and additional help is given when necessary through the same approach. In personalized learning, the academic goals, content, curriculum, methods and pace can all vary.

Personalized learning involves the student actively in creation of learning experiences and activities and is based heavily on students’ personal interests.

14. Deep Learning

A type of learning that allows a student to take what's learned in one situation and apply it to another.

Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning concerned with algorithms inspired by the structure and function of the brain called artificial neural networks. In education, deep learning promotes the building of complex understanding and meaning rather than focusing on the learning of superficial knowledge that today can be gleaned through search engines. Deep learning instruction provides students with the advanced skills necessary for a world in which good jobs are becoming more cognitively demanding. It prepares them to be independent, curious, continuous learners while being thoughtful, productive, active citizens in a democratic society.

15. Public Domain

Content, assets, and resources that are available to the public for use in any form without any legal restrictions or copyrights attached to them.

Public Domain refers to works (such as poems, stories, photographs or images) that are either not copyrighted or ineligible for copyright protection or with expired copyrights. Resources can be listed under public domain if they are published or created before 1923. If a resource you find online is listed as being in the public domain, you are free to use it in your work.

16. Open Educational Resources

Resources such as digital assets that are accessible for use by anyone for teaching, learning, and assessing.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.

17. STEM

A learning approach that integrates the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The acronym STEM stands for the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM education is vastly popular due to the high demand of these disciplines in today’s job landscape. Incorporating STEM in education during the early years enables students to gain valuable skills such as problem-solving, exploratory learning, and critical thinking.

18. Play-Based Learning

A type of early childhood education that places importance on children learning through active play.

Play-based learning is a type of early childhood education that enables children to actively engage with people, objects and the environment. This has been shown to promote and enhance social-emotional skills, general cognitive development, and self-regulation abilities.

19. HOTS

Higher Order Thinking Skills (also called high order thinking) refers to skills that require deeper cognitive application or thinking.

HOTS typically refers to critical thinking skills such as analytical thinking, evaluation and synthesis that go beyond skills such as rote memorization and regurgitation of information. HOTS as a concept of education reform is based on various learning taxonomies but mainly on Bloom's Taxonomy. HOTS are reflected by the top three levels in Bloom’s Taxonomy: analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

20. Multiple Intelligences

A theory that proposes that humans have several types of intelligences or ways of processing information rather than just one type. Individuals can have any combination of eight intelligences.

Multiple Intelligences - Howard Gardner’s psychological theory about people and their different types of intelligences - has disproved the one-size-fits-all approach to education. This theory can be applied to the various ways in which students learn and acquire information. The 8 different intelligences are:

a) Verbal-linguistic intelligence refers to the ability to analyse info

b) Logical-mathematical intelligence refers to the ability to understand and synthesise information involving logic, numbers, abstractions and reasoning

c) Visual-spatial intelligence refers to the ability to visualise with the mind and make very good spatial judgements

d) Musical intelligence refers to a high sensitivity to rhythm, sounds, pitch, tone, and melody

e) Naturalistic intelligence refers to a high sensitivity to relating to and nurturing the natural world and surroundings including flora and fauna

f) Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence refers to a higher control of one’s own bodily motions as well as skillful handling of objects

g) Interpersonal intelligence refers to a higher sensitivity to the moods, emotions, temperaments, feelings and motivations of others
Intrapersonal intelligence refers to having introspective and self-reflective qualities

Understanding what type of intelligence(s) a student has helps teachers to modify teaching styles and suggest certain career paths for students.

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