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A small program or application that runs on a browser and enables additional features like animation.

Of, used in, or being digital communication (as between computers) in which there is no timing requirement for transmission and in which the start of each character is individually signaled by the transmitting device.

Audio Conferencing
Voice communication delivered through standard telephone lines or Internet-based software sometimes used in distance learning.


Refers the capacity of a connection to transport digital content. It is usually measured in transfer speed (bits-per-second). Generally speaking, text transfers more quickly and requires less bandwidth than audio or video. Very effective compression can change that somewhat.

Blackboard Academic Suite
A comprehensive and flexible e-Learning software platform that delivers a complete course management system


As opposed to the connection speeds and capacity that one can obtain over a phone line with a modem, a broadband connection can accommodate the rapid transfer of large amounts or packets of information. Generally, Internet connections provided by cable or DSL are broadband. Most distance learning courses will recommend that you have a broadband connection.

Software that allows you to access view Web sites on the Internet from your PC, laptop, or handheld PDA. Examples of browsers include Firefox, Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Opera, and Safari.

BBS (bulletin board system)
A system maintained by a host computer for posting information, carrying on discussions, uploading and downloading files, chatting, and other online services. BBSs are generally created for a specific group of users and are usually topic-specific.


Cable Modem
A device that uses coaxial cables to transmit data faster than telephone line modems and roughly equivalent to modems using DSL telephone service.

CD-ROM (compact disk read-only memory)
An electronic data storage medium that uses optical technology for storing and playing back audio, video, text, and other information in digital form.

An online, real-time interactive communication method using text to send and receive instant messages.

A small text file placed on your hard by a web site to record information about you. When you return, your computer serves up the "cookie" to the web site and previously recorded information such as your name, site login/password, preferences, shopping cart info, and more are passed along. The web page is then customized based on that information.

Educational software that delivers course material and instruction via computer.


The method of getting information to the user via Internet, CD-ROM, books, instructors, and other mediums.

An Internet connection achieved through telephone lines using a modem.

Discussion Forums
A place where people can exchange messages of common interest.

Distance Education
Education designed for delivery where students and instructors not in the same location.

Distance Learning
Often used synonymously with Distance Education; distinct as an outcome of Distance Education.

Distributed Learning - Often used synonymously with Distance Learning; distinct in that it is the outcome of education that combines a blend of online and traditional delivery methods.

A file transfer from one computer to yours.

DSL (digital subscriber line)
An Internet access method for high-speed data transfer over telephone lines.

DVD (digital versatile disk)
An electronic data storage medium that uses optical technology for storing and playing back audio, video, text, and other information in digital form, but with far greater capacity than CDs.


Any learning that utilizes a network (LAN, WAN or Internet) for delivery, interaction, or facilitation. This would include distributed learning , distance learning (other than pure correspondence ), CBT delivered over a network, and WBT . Can be synchronous , asynchronous , instructor-led or computer-based or a combination.

Short for electronic mail; primarily text messages sent between two computers.


An instructor who assists, directs, and stimulates the learning during an online course.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Highly useful, a list of common questions about a particular topic, product, or service directed primarily at new users.

File Server
A computer that stores and manages files and software on a computer network, giving users the capability of sharing information and other resources.

Specialized hardware or software designed to secure a computer or network from unauthorized access.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
An Internet protocol for transferring files between two computers. Most browsers incorporate FTP software to download and upload files.


Abbreviation for "HyperText Markup Language." The programming language used to create web pages in hypertext, which refers to the code used to arrange the text on the page and to create formatting so that the pages appear a certain way on the World Wide Web.

Abbreviation for "HyperText Transfer Protocol." An Internet protocol that is used by a web server and a web browser to transfer data (such as text, images, sound, video, and other multimedia files) between them. When you enter a URL in your web browser, this actually sends an HTTP command to the Web server directing it to fetch and transmit the requested web page.

Hybrid courses
Hybrid courses blend face-to-face interaction such as in-class discussions, active group work, and live lectures with typically web-based educational technologies such as online course cartridges, assignments, discussion boards, and other web-assisted learning tools. The degree to which the design of hybrid courses utilize traditional classroom and online learning environments varies, being largely dependent on the subject matter and overall nature of a course.


Instant Messenger
Also shortened to "IM." Software that lists a user's buddy list (who may consist of friends, family, co-workers, classmates, etc.) who are also online and enables users to exchange text-based messages. Some instant messenger programs also include voice chat, file transfer, and other applications. Popular instant messaging programs are available for free by ICQ, AOL, Yahoo!, and MSN. IM may be used in distance learning to facilitate communication between two students or between a learner and his or her instructor.

Internet Service Provider
Also shortened to "ISP." A company that provides Internet access to consumers and businesses, usually for a monthly fee. Services include e-mail, the World Wide Web, FTP, newsgroups, etc. Popular ISPs include America Online, Earthlink, CompuServe.


LAN (local area network)
Agroup of networked computers in relative proximity to one another that allows users to communicate and share information and other devices such as file servers, printers, and modems.

Hypertext that is usually underlined to indicate a pointer to additional related information.


MOdulator/DEModulator, a device that converts digital signals to analog for transmission, and analog signals back to digital upon reception.


An audio, video, email, or application broadcast over the web, from one computer to many.


The combination of text, graphics, audio, colors to create used to present information in an engaging and dynamic way.


A group of computers and peripheral devices (like printers and modems) connected to allow users to communicate and share information and resources.

An information exchange forum where notes about a particular topic are posted and shared.


Online Learning
e-Learning delivered over the Internet (as opposed to a local or wide area network).


(Portable Document Format) A file format that provides an electronic image of text or text and graphics that looks like a printed document and can be viewed, printed, and electronically transmitted.


Software programs that enhance your browser and allow it to perform additional tasks such as playing audio, displaying video, and viewing documents as an integrated function of the browser.


Real-time communication 
Communication with little or no delay; synchronous interaction.

Rich content
High quality course or web page material, often presented using advanced or sophisticated design techniques employed to emphasize the message or learning.


Streaming Video
Video sent in compressed form over the Internet that you view as it is being received, rather than waiting until for the entire file to be downloaded first. There may be two versions available: a dial-up version is usually a smaller file, with a smaller video screen and a slower frame rate, for 56k dial-up users and a high-speed version, a larger file with higher quality image, is designed for users with faster broadband Internet connections.

Synchronous Communication
Live, real-time communication. Examples include a conversation at the grocery store, phoning your children to say hello when you're traveling on business, instant messaging or chatting in an AOL chat room.

Synchronous Learning
Any learning event where interaction happens simultaneously in real-time. This requires that learners attend class at its scheduled time. Could be held in a traditional classroom, or delivered via distributed or e-Learning technologies.

System Requirements
The technological conditions required to run a software application. Includes the operating system, programming language, database, hardware configuration, bandwidth, processing power, and so forth.


Video or audio conferences conducted over telecommunications channels such as telephone lines, local area networks, and the Internet.
An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. A thread (sometimes called a topic) is a collection of posts, usually displayed from oldest to latest, although this is typically configurable: Options for newest to oldest and for a threaded view (a tree-like view applying logical reply structure before chronological order) can be available. A thread is defined by a title, an additional description that may summarize the intended discussion, and an opening or original post (common abbreviation OP, which can also mean original poster), which opens whatever dialogue or makes whatever announcement the poster wished. A thread can contain any number of posts, including multiple posts from the same members, even if they are one after the other.


Uniform Resource Locator (URL) 
The address used to identify a page or file on the Internet.

User interface
The components of a computer system that the operator uses to interact with the computer - the screen display, keyboard, mouse, touch controls, etc.


Video Conferencing 
Live video and audio communication between three or more locations.

Virtual Classroom
The area where students and instructors interact online.

Virtual Community
A community on the Internet where people share common interests; an online community.



Web Based Training (WBT)
Training which is delivered over a network (LAN, WAN or Internet). Can be either Instructor-led or Computer Based. Very similar to e-Learning, but usually implies that the learning is in the professional or corporate level.

A wiki is usually a web application which allows people to add, modify, or delete content in collaboration with others. Text is usually written using a simplified markup language or a rich-text editor. While a wiki is a type of content management system, it differs from a blog or most other such systems in that the content is created without any defined owner or leader, and wikis have little implicit structure, allowing structure to emerge according to the needs of the users



Zip file
A file that has been reduced in size to allow faster transferring between computers, or to save storage space. Originated with PKWARE, the technique is widely used and the term is used frequently to describe any compressed file. Some compressed files have the .EXE extension, indicating the file is self-extracting.

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