Confused about virtual education jargon?  You are not alone. It is easy to get lost in the mix of specialized vocabulary, acronyms, and institutional language. Just use our handy guide below to help you navigate the world of virtual education buzzwords.


Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

CCSS are a set of standards adopted by a number of states in the US, including Oregon. They provide a guide for all instruction and curriculum grades K-12 in math and English Language Arts.  The standards are often confused with the Smart Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the curriculum schools teach. Rather CCSS are the list of skills that educators use to create curriculum because they are the standards tested for on the SBAC.


Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is the state testing in Oregon (and a number of other states that assess the above-mentioned standards). Schools and the state use this to measure their effectiveness. Students in participating grades take the SBAC once a year.


Flipped Classroom Model

An educational model where students have a task (a video, a passage, etc) to review before the lesson to “set the stage for learning”. This is more common in virtual education with the more flexible schedule and online nature. Furthermore, by relegating the lecture portion of class to a small video, the teacher is free to use instructional time for more engaging, student-centered activities.



When a classroom is described as “student-centered,” it means that more of the control and responsibility for learning is placed in the student’s power. Instructional time may be more participatory with students working in groups, or on individual projects. Oftentimes a student-centered classroom looks more chaotic than a class where the teacher is in the front and all the students are listening to him or her talk, but when students are active and not merely listening, they are learning. This model is in direct opposition to the classic model where all the class chairs are facing forward and a teacher stands in the front of class lecturing. Oftentimes student-centered classrooms will have the desks and tables arranged in a way that lends itself to collaborative work. Some students might have their backs to the teacher when he or she is in front of the room. The teacher may walk around the classroom more than they do in a traditional set-up where they stand in the front, walking back and forth, seldom breaking the fourth wall. In the virtual setting, a teacher-centered classroom may have students utilizing the various tools that are meant for the presenter. They might be on the mic or writing on the virtual whiteboard. Online breakout rooms are used for small collaborative projects. If your online instructor is just reading off of a Powerpoint slide during an online class, then they are stuck in that old model.



Providing a personal device (laptop, Chromebook, iPad) for every student. This ratio is becoming more important as more and more industries become reliant on the latest technology. Those students who are not well versed in navigating the internet, vetting and synthesizing the information and long-distant collaboration are falling behind those whose education includes the aforementioned skills and experiences.


21st Century Skills

21st Century skills are a series of higher-order skills, abilities, and learning dispositions that have been identified as being required for success in 21st Century society and workplaces by educators, business leaders, academics, and governmental agencies.



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