Common Terms

Alphabetical: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 


Analog A signal that is received in the same form in which it is transmitted, while the amplitude and frequency may vary.

American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) The standard 8 bit code used in data communications from which files may be interchanged from one software program to another and from PC to Mac formats.

Asynchronous Communication in which interaction between parties does not take place simultaneously.


Bandwidth Information carrying capacity of a communication channel.

Blackboard A suite of enterprise software products and services that power a total “e-Education Infrastructure” for schools, colleges, universities, and other education providers.

Brand A product or entity that has a reputation and a loyal following.

Broadband Telecommunication that provides multiple channels of data over a single communications medium.

Browser Software that allows you to find and see information on the Internet. Commonly used browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.
Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) A teaching process in which students gain mastery over a specific set of skills by executing training programs on a computer. CAI is very effective for computer applications training. Also called CBT.


Computer-Based Training (CBT) a teaching process in which students gain mastery over a specific set of skills by executing training programs on a computer. CBT is very effective for computer applications training. Also called CAI.

Content Development The development of material associated with a course. The format of content may include text, audio, video, or multimedia. The types of content may include readings, exercises, simulations, self-tests, etc.

Continuing education Education that is usually not for credit, but which can be delivered on campus or at-a-distance.

Correspondence Print-based coursework that is completed by a learner at home at their own convenience, but usually within a set timeframe. All assignments—reading, class notes, written assignments, research, and some examinations—are completed independently. Students correspond with a school through the mail.

Course A compilation of learning material. Exercises, interaction, and assessments that enable the learner to attain stated learning objectives associated with a particular field of study.

Course Management System (CMS) Course management systems are software solutions that provide an integrated environment for course development and delivery. CMS’s are often designed for ease-of-use for faculty who are developing material as well as for students who interact with the finished courses.

Cyberspace The place where humans interact over computer networks.


Delivery Modes Options for delivering instruction (e.g., lecture, text, video, Internet)

Digital An electrical signal that varies in discrete steps in voltage, frequency, amplitude, locations, etc. Digital signals can be transmitted faster and more accurately than analog signals.

Distance Learning An instructional delivery system that connects learners, regardless of their location, with educational resources. As distance learning normally occurs in a different place from teaching, it requires special techniques of course design, instructional design and communication. Distance learning uses technology to make possible new approaches to the teaching/learning process, rather than simply the addition of technology to instruction.

Download Using the network to transfer files from one computer to another.


E-Learning Anytime, anywhere electronic or computer-supported learning. Also called Web-based training.

Electronic Mail (E-mail) The transmission of messages from one computer user to another.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) The agreed-upon format that allows users to move files between a distant computer and a local computer using a network like the Internet.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) A collection of basic information on any given subject.

Fully Interactive Video (Two-way Interactive Video) Two sites interact with audio and video as if they were co-located.


Governance How an organization is managed, the reporting structure and who has authority over people and processes. The purpose of governance is to ensure the common good.


High Definition TV (HDTV) A television that delivers resolution far exceeding the current NTSC standard resulting in a brighter and clearer picture. It requires bandwidth five times the capacity of a conventional TV signal.

Host A network computer that receives data from other computers.

Hybrid Course Courses that combine a traditional face-to-face classroom setting with online components, such as, the syllabus, gradebook, exams, and supplemental documents.  These components are delivered via the Internet through an LMS, Learning Management System, know as Blackboard.

Hyperlink Images or text within Web documents that move a user to a different location or present a different page once selected.

Hypertext Text that is coded so that users may select and click on elements within a document to connect to further information.

Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) The language in which Web documents are written. Browsing software interprets the elements of the language, or tags, for display on the Web.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) The agreed-upon format used to define how documents are formatted and transmitted on the Web, and what action servers and browsers should take in response to various commands.


Instructional design The systematic process of translating general principles of learning and instruction into plans for instructional materials and learning.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) A telecommunications standard allowing communication channels to simultaneously carry voice, video, and data.

Interactive Video Participants (students and instructors) at different origination and receiving sites are able to see and hear each other, thus creating an interactive learning environment at a distance.

Internet Global information networks connecting millions of computers. Also called the Net.
Learner Management Systems (LMS) Integrated software products that track learner progress, beginning with an inventory of learning preferences and career goals and tracking progress both within and among courses.


Learning Object Discrete modules of instructional material, (e.g., a video clip, an audio segment, or a simulation). Learning objects may provide information or interaction. Multiple learning objects are assembled to create a course. Learning objects may also be used to enrich classroom learning experiences.

Lifelong learning A philosophical concept in which learning is viewed as a long-term, "cradle to grave" process, beginning at birth and lasting throughout life.

Local Area Modem Equipment that converts digital signals to analog for transmission along analog lines (telephone lines) allowing computers to interact with each other.


Marketing The act or process of selling or purchasing in a market; the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service; an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer.

Multimedia Any document that uses multiple forms of communication, such as text, audio, and/or video.


Needs Assessment The process of determining needs of learners, often based on surveys, demographic information, and labor statistics.

Net A term short for Internet.

Network Multiple computer systems linked together.


Online Courses Online and web-based course comprise the fastest growing area of distance learning. Online courses are available 24-7 to students via the world-wide-web (WWW). Students will need a computer, Internet access and a fairly solid understanding of using the WWW.

Online Learning A learning environment that uses the Internet as the delivery vehicle, (synonymous with E-Learning).

Organizational Structure Outlines and defines the roles, responsibilities, and reporting relationships of an organization. Interaction between different divisions/departments/colleges may be defined, as well.


Portal Single point of entry on the Internet that brings together personalized and customized information from various content providers and resources for an individual user. A portal contains links to pertinent information and operates by brining information to the user rather than requiring the user to link o multiple sites (URLs).

Portable document format (PDF) A file format developed for the Adobe Acrobat Reader that captures formatting information from a variety of desktop publishing applications and preserves the intended format for display on a recipient's monitor or printer.

Platform The underlying hardware or software for a computer system. Platform-independent and cross-platform applications run on various computer systems.

Plug-in Downloadable software that adds enhanced capabilities to a browser enabling the user to view, hear, or interact with non-standard display formats.

Protocol An agreed-upon set of standards, rules, or formats for exchanging data that assures uniformity between computers and applications.


Quality Control A process for the systematic monitoring and evaluation of the various aspects of a project, service, or facility to ensure that standards of quality are being met.
Real-time Communication in which interaction between parties takes place simultaneously. Also referred to as synchronous.


Satellite TV Video and audio signals are relayed via a communication device that orbits around the earth.

Search Engine Web-based software tools that searches for and returns documents on the Web based upon specified keywords.

Server A computer on a network with a special service function, generally receiving and connecting incoming information traffic.

Service Center An entity that provides various types of support to individuals or organizations.
Single Face to the Market One common look and feel to a product or service, ensuring that users feel a strong sense of recognition and familiarity.

Strategic Alliance A relationship between organizations (e.g., college and vendor) that brings unique value to both parties and requires mutual investment by both parties. Strategic alliances allow organizations to create unique capabilities that are otherwise unavailable.

Student Support Services The services associated with student enrollment, matriculation, and graduation. Services include registration, advising, career counseling, financial aid, etc.

Synchronous Communication in which interaction between parties takes place simultaneously. Also called real-time.


Technical Infrastructure The hardware, software and other devises that the use of technology, whether for distance learning or conducting the business of the institution.

Technical Service Vendors Commercial entities that provide specific technical products, services, or expertise that bring value to another organization.

Technical Standards A set of standards that define the accepted type of technology or capability. Standards may be based on a specific product or on functionality (e.g., capable of running Netscape 5.0).

Teleconferencing Two-way electronic communication between two or more groups in separate locations via audio, video, and/or computer systems.

Telecourse Fully accredited, video-based courses delivered via television. Telecourses are complete and integrated instructional systems that generally include the television programs, a textbook, study guide, faculty manual, and other instructional materials.

Teleweb Courses that combine telecourse and online course elements are commonly referred to as "teleweb" courses. Often times, these courses are video-based telecourses that offer additional online components and companion information via the Internet. The teleweb course's online content may or may not be a required - that decision is left to the discretion of the instructor.

Threaded Discussion Asynchronous online conversations consisting of a series, or threads, of linked messages.


Uniform Resource Locator (URL) The address of a document on the Web.


Web A short term for World Wide Web (WWW).

Web-based Training (WBT) Anytime, anywhere electronic or computer-supported instruction.

Webcasting Uses push technologies to simultaneously broadcast live video and/or audio via the Internet to multiple computers. The quality of Webcast reception can vary greatly and is highly dependent on bandwidth, hardware quality, etc.

World Wide Web (WWW) A global, networked system that serves data images, documents, multimedia, via the Internet.