Glossary of Technical and Distance Education Terms
- Application sharing. A feature that allows two or more people
in different locations to work together in a single live software
application. In application sharing, one user launches the application
and it appears on all participants’ computers simultaneously. Both
users can input information and otherwise control the application
using the keyboard and mouse. Although it appears that the application
is running on both PCs, it actually is running on only one. The person
who launched the application may have the option to lock out the other
person from making changes, so the locked-out person sees the application
running but cannot control it.
- Asynchronous. A type of communication that occurs with a
time delay, allowing participants to respond at their own convenience.
Literally “not synchronous”; in other words, not at the same time.
Asynchronous capabilities give learners access to course materials,
including readings, embedded and streamed multimedia, and external
Web sites. They also let learners participate in facilitated
discussions, and complete assignments individually and collaboratively.
A more narrow definition is offfered by the
- Audio Conferencing - In the context of a web-delivered technology,
this term generally refers to voice conferencing over the internet.
The equivalent of a telephone conference using dial-up internet services,
generally through software installed in a web browser. Implementations
range from half duplex to full duplex. The term may also be used to
refer to standard telephone conferences.
- Authoring software/tools. High-level computer programs designed
for creating computer-based training, interactive presentations, and
multimedia. Commands are often presented as simple ter
- Browser Interface - Denotes that the host software allows
use of most product features through Java-enabled browser such as
Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator/Communicator. There is often
implied an assumption that some additional software (generally referred
to as a "java applet" or a "plugin") has been added to the browser
to increase selected functionality.
- Chat. Generally refers to real-time, text-based conversation
between two or more individuals connected online. As you type, everything
you type is displayed to the other members of the chat group. Some
implementations provide for private communications between individuals,
most packages provide for a group chat (i.e. everyone sees everything).
Some chat software now features voice-enabled chat.
- Chat Logs - Software has the ability to save and optionally
post transcripts of chat sessions.
- Computer-based training (CBT). An interactive instructional
approach in which the computer, taking the place of an instructor,
provides a series of stimuli to the student ranging from questions
to be answered to choices or decisions to be made. The CBT then provides
feedback based on the student's response.
- Desktop videoconferencing. Videoconferencing on a personal
computer equipped with a fast Internet connection (at least 28.8 Kbps
modem), a microphone, and a video camera . There can be two-way or
multi-way video and audio depending upon the hardware and software
of participants. Most appropriate for small groups or individuals.
- Distance Education. See Distance learning. This term is often
used synonymously with distance learning. However, "distance education"
seems to be preferred in undergraduate and graduate academic settings.
- Distance Learning. A system and a process that connects learners
and instructors who are in different locations. Distance learning
has historically involved correspondence courses, video, or satellite
broadcasts. With the connectivity of the Internet and a new generation
of software applications, distance learning has evolved into a new
model, which provides higher quality and more flexibility and which
is more appropriately called “distributed learning.”
- Distributed learning. A system and process that uses a variety
of technologies, learning methodologies, on-line collaboration, and
instructor facilitation to achieve applied learning results not possible
from traditional education in a truly flexible, anytime/anywhere fashion.
- e-learning - A term referring broadly to technology-based
learning. Seems to focus on web-based delivery methods but often used
in a broader context. Used initially by corporate universities, now
being embraced by academia.
- Instructor-led training (ILT). Training in which learners
are taught by an actual person: an instructor, teacher or faculty
member. Instructor-led training can occur synchronously or asynchronously.
- Java. A programming language developed by Sun Microsystems
that creates code for interactive applications that is executable
on web pages by web browsers. These Java applications can execute
on any platform: Macintosh, PC, and so on.
- “Just in Time” (JIT). A term used to describe a system or
information that is available for the user at the exact time the user
- Multimedia. A very general term that usually refers to computer
programs that use a combination of sound, video, animation, pictures,
- Multipoint. Communication configuration in which several
terminals or stations are connected. This differs from point-to-point,
where communication is between two stations only.
- Open Enrollment - The ability to enroll in a course or program
of study at any time. Contrasted with the typical term-based enrollment
and lock-step cohort programs of traditional schools, "open enrollment"
is frequently requested by adult learners. Correspondence courses
are traditionally offered as "open enrollment" delivery systems, although
logistical issues and faculty concerns (especially workload) often
block its implementation.
- Pedagogical. Of, relating to, or befitting a teacher or education,
especially with regard to a process of learning.
- Real-time. The processing of information that returns a result
so rapidly that the interaction appears to be instantaneous. Telephone
calls and videoconferencing are examples of real-time applications.
These kinds of real-time information not only need to be processed
almost instantaneously, but it needs to arrive in the exact order
it's sent. A delay between parts of a word, or the transmission of
video frames out of sequence, makes the communication unintelligible.
See also Synchronous.
- Repurpose. To create new material from older material.
- Self-paced learning. Education in which the learner is on
their own, studying without interaction with others. Sometimes used
to refer to asynchronous modes of delivery. CBT has been the most
common form of self-paced learning, but web-based asynchronous systems
are catching up quickly.
- Shovelware - a critical term used when traditional courseware
is repurposed for the internet without full consideration of the quality
of the new learning experience. Essentially "Shoveling" content onto
the internet for better or worse.
- Synchronous. A type of two-way communication that occurs
with virtually no time delay, allowing participants to respond in
real time. Also, a system in which regularly occurring events in timed
intervals are kept in step using some form of electronic clocking
mechanism. Synchronous capabilities add a living, breathing dimension
to online learning. Generally includes tools supported by standards-based
data, audio, and videoconferencing — like whiteboard, application-sharing,
and question-and-answer. See also Asynchronous.
- Voice-over-IP. Uses the internet to allow phone-like voice
interaction over dial-up internet connections. Typically implemented
as a browser add-in or external piece of software. Some systems are
full-duplex, other voice-over-ip systems use "push-to-talk" half-duplex
- Video Conferencing. In the context of web-delivered learning,
refers to "Talking" head, small size video over IP networks. Generally
requires additional hardware for implementation. Generally implemented
as an optional feature, due to its significant bandwidth requirements.
- Web-based training (WBT). A form of computer-based training
in which the training material resides on pages accessible through
the World Wide Web. Typical media elements used are text and graphics.
Other media such as animation, audio, and video can be used, but require
more bandwidth and in some cases additional software. The terms "online
courses" and "web-based instruction" are sometimes used interchangeably
- Whiteboarding or Shared Whiteboard. A term used to describe
the placement of shared documents or material on an on-screen "shared
notebook" or "whiteboard." Desktop videoconferencing software often
includes "snapshot" tools that enable you to capture entire windows
or portions of windows and place them on the whiteboard. You work
with familiar tools - such as "colored pens" and "erasers" to mark
up the electronic whiteboard much like you do with a traditional wall-mounted
- Workgroups - allows subsetting of learners into on-line workgroups.
Implementations vary from simply email group lists to virtual voice
enabled on-line collaborative workgroups.