21vocab is a social network for vocabulary building and student collaboration that allows students to be informed, involved and engaged with words. It seeks to provide a social and interactive approach to teaching vocabulary by stepping away from flashcards and rote memorization.

In the finished application, teachers will create groups for students to join, and create a list of words for students. When a student signs up and enters the site, they will be able to select a teacher group to view. Students can create posts and interact with other posts. Whenever a student makes a post, they will be randomly given one of the teacher’s words and a format: text, video, or image. Students can make posts and view, like, or comment on other people’s posts. To encourage group collaboration and feedback, points are added to each user for each like, comment, and post they make. Teachers will be able to view statistics on each user, detailing their user points and likes, allowing for them to assess student performance.

As of right now, the project is still in the prototype phase. Users can make posts, likes, and comments and receive points. However, teacher settings and a group system are still in development, and a database needs to be added.

The backend of the software is written in nodejs and uses socket.io for server-client communication. For the front end, angularjs, javascript, html, and css are used. Materialize css provides responsive material design for the application.

Throughout the mid 16th century to the late 19th century, students carried hornbooks, ivory or wood slabs covered with information on them to be memorized. In 1834, Educator Favell Lee Mortimer created the first set of paper flashcards, titled “Reading Disentangled”.

Many things have changed since 1834, but today, flashcards remain exactly the same. Even with the advent of technology, vocabulary learning apps still use the same flashcard system, just now on an electronic screen.

Why is this so? It’s not because flashcards are the best way. As noted polyglot Luca Lampariello states it best, “You can memorize a word, remember it on the fly and pronounce it with perfect pronunciation. But a word in isolation out of a sentence or phrase is like a fish out of the sea. A word needs to be alive, needs to be used to convey a message. It can’t just sit there and be remembered on and off like a piece of information.”

Based off educational expert Dr. Robert J. Marzano’s “Six-Step process”, 21vocab is designed to be an innovative method for teaching vocabulary. 21vocab allows students to share and collaborate on their personal vocabulary-based work, creating a deeper understanding of words. It will provide teachers detailed statistics on the words they assign, allowing educators to assess student understanding.

The digital age provides new opportunities for innovation in education. 21vocab provides a 21st century education solution for our 21st century age.

–Isaac Lo