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Read the latest on NGSS NOW Newsletter .

Improving Science Education Through Three-Dimensional Learning

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Within the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), there are three distinct and equally important dimensions to learning science. These dimensions are combined to form each standard—or performance expectation—and each dimension works with the other two to help students build a cohesive understanding of science over time.

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Crosscutting Concepts help students explore connections across the four domains of science, including Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering Design.

When these concepts, such as “cause and effect”, are made explicit for students, they can help students develop a coherent and scientifically-based view of the world around them.

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Science and Engineering Practices describe what scientists do to investigate the natural world and what engineers do to design and build systems. The practices better explain and extend what is meant by “inquiry” in science and the range of cognitive, social, and physical practices that it requires. Students engage in practices to build, deepen, and apply their knowledge of core ideas and crosscutting concepts.

‌‌‌ Disciplinary Core Ideas

Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs) are the key ideas in science that have broad importance within or across multiple science or engineering disciplines. These core ideas build on each other as students progress through grade levels and are grouped into the following four domains: Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering.

GET TO KNOW

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are K–12 science content standards. Standards set the expectations for what students should know and be able to do. The NGSS were developed by states to improve science education for all students.

A goal for developing the NGSS was to create a set of research-based, up-to-date K–12 science standards. These standards give local educators the flexibility to design classroom learning experiences that stimulate students’ interests in science and prepares them for college, careers, and citizenship.

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Science—and therefore science education—is central to the lives of all Americans.

TESL-L (Teachers of English as a Second Language): [ ICT4LT Editor's Note: no longer available.]

TESLCA-L (Computer-Assisted sub-branch of TESL-L): [ ICT4LT Editor's Note: no longer available.]

International Student Email Discussion Lists: [ ICT4LT Editor's Note: no longer available.]

[ ICT4LT Editor's Note: There are now many more professional associations for CALL. See the list under the heading Professional associations in the ICT4LT Resource Centre .]

AACE (Association for the Advancement of Computers in Education): http://www.aace.org/

CALICO: http://www.calico.org/

EUROCALL: http://www.eurocall-languages.org/

ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education): http://www.iste.org/

JALTCALL (Japan Association for Language Teaching CALL): http://jaltcall.org/

IATEFL :The UK-based International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language embraces a Learning Technologies Special Interest Group (LT SIG) - formerly known simply as the Computer SIG and before that as MUESLI (Microcomputer Users in ESL Institutions) .

TESOL CALL Interest Section (CALL-IS): http://www.call-is.org/

Ahmad K., Corbett G., Rogers M., Sussex R. (1985) Computers, language learning and language teaching , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Barson J. Debski R. (1996) "Calling back CALL: technology in the service of foreign language learning based on creativity, contingency, and goal-oriented activity". In Warschauer M. (ed.) Telecollaboration in foreign language learning , Honolulu: University of Hawaii, Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center: 49-68.

Bowers R. (1995) "WWW-Based Instruction for EST". In Orr T. (ed.) English for science and technology: profiles and perspectives , Aizuwakamatsu, Japan: Center for Language Research, University of Aizu: 5-8.

Bowers R. (1996) "Web publishing for students of EST". In Warschauer (ed.) Virtual connections: online activities and projects for networking language learners , Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawai Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center.

Brierley B. Kemble I. (1991) Computers as a tool in language teaching , New York: Ellis Horwood.

Garrett N. (1991) "Technology in the service of language learning: trends and issues", Modern Language Journal 75,1: 74-101.

Healey D. Johnson N. (eds.) (1995a) 1995 TESOL CALL Interest Section software list . Alexandria, VA: TESOL Publications.

As interest (and arguably and, yes, ironically, trust) in Bitcoin has waned, the reverse seems to be true about the blockchain, the technological underpinning of the cryptocurrency, which in the last year or so has received interest from banks , businesses, and governmental organizations alike.

Let’s expand on the very, very simple definition of blockchain at the beginning of this article: the blockchain is distributed, digital ledger.

One of the key features of the blockchain is that it is a distributed database; that is to say, the database exists in multiple copies across multiple computers. These computers form a peer-to-peer network, meaning that there is no single, centralized database or server, but rather the blockchain database exists across a decentralized network of machines, each acting as a node on that network.

Transactions on the blockchain are signed digitally, using public key cryptography. (And now a brief description of that technology: public key cryptography uses two keys, which makes it harder to crack. There is a public and private key – related mathematically but because of the complexity of that math, nearly impossible (or at least computationally infeasible) to guess. The public key can be used to sign and encrypt a message that’s being sent; the recipient – and only the designated recipient – can decrypt that transaction with their private key. ( Here’s my public key, by the way .) In addition to encrypting messages, public key cryptography can be used to authenticate an identity as well as to verify that the message – or in the case of a transaction on the blockchain – has not been altered.)

Because of the distributed nature of the blockchain database, data about all new transactions must be propagated to all nodes on the network so that the blockchain stays in sync as one “world wide ledger,” and not as many conflicting ledgers. That means that in order to update the blockchain, these multiple, distributed copies of it must be reconciled so that they all contain the same version. This happens in the blockchain via a consensus process: the majority of the nodes in the system must concur. (Note: there are other synchronization methods for distributed databases.) This consensus process is one of the key innovations of the blockchain: it is “emergent,” rather than happening at a scheduled time or interval as each new transaction and block is verified computationally.

Each block of the blockchain is made up of a list of transactions. Each block also contains a block header. That header, in turn, contains (at least) three sets of metadata: 1) structured data about the transactions in the block; 2) the timestamp and data about the proof-of-work algorithm (this is how new blocks are mined and verified – more on this in a minute); 3) a reference to the parent block – that is, the previous block – via a “hash” (in order words, a cryptographic algorithm). This creates the “chain” part of the blockchain. Each block in the blockchain can be identified by a hash of its header.

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