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The Basics: The Definitions

Most of the terms used in distance education will be familiar from other fields including instructional design, educational psychology, and educational technology.

animation. the process of creating movement of images on the screen.
asynchronous. communication occurring at different times due to the nature of data transmission or storage. Many online courses use asynchronous tools such as blogs and forums.
attachment. a data file that is linked to an email or instant message.
audioblog. a blog containing audio files such as MP3s.
blogging. a web-based log containing short entries (text, graphics, media, links) listed in reverse chronological order often providing an option for external comments.
blogroll. a collection of links on the sidebar of a blog linking to other blogs.
blurker. a person who reads many blogs but leaves no evidence of themselves behind; a silent observer.
cc. an email function indicating that a "carbon copy" or a duplicate copy of the message has been sent to the people indicated.
chat. interacting “real time” with others on the Internet.
configuration. a set of information about how a computer should react in particular situations.
course management system. an online software program with function such as forums, email, wiki, blog, data storage, gradebook, announcements, and other features.
digital divide. the gap between those who have access to the power of technology and those who don't.
discussion board. a virtual space for online discussion.
download. to transfer a file from a remote computer server to save on your own computer.
embed. to place an object such as image, audio, video, or widget directly into a page rather than linking to the object.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). documents that answers the most common questions related to a particular topic.
feed reader. news aggregators that are extensions to web browsers such as Firefox are used to read RSS feeds from blogs and other sources.
feedback. information regarding the quality of materials, a presentation, or a response.
filename extension. a three-letter code at the end of a filename that gives some indication as to the type of file such as .txt or.zip.
flaming. antagonistic criticism of someone online. Often many people jump in on different sides of an argument and start insulting each other.
forum. a virtual space for online discussion.
hyperlink. connections made to other documents, web pages, video, graphic, or audio files by clicking on “hot words” or phrases.
interactive. non-linear, back-and-forth actions between a computer and a human user or between two or more people.
interactive whiteboard. an electronic chalkboard used to write or draw in a collaborative learning environment.
isp. Internet Service Provider
link rot. when a list of website links contains many dead links; the best solution is to design your website with a permalink system.
listserv. an automated e-mail service that forwards messages to all of the members of the group.
pdf (Portable Document Format). an electronic file format created by Adobe designed to be readble by many different operating systems.
permalink. a web link that takes you to the permanent location of an article in a blog archive.
plug-in. an application program that can be installed and used as part of your Web browser. Normally, used to play sound or motion video, you often must go to a publisher website to download this special software. Adobe's Acrobat, RealNetworks' streaming video player, and Macromedia's Flashplayer are common plugins.
podcasts. audio files available for download to devices such as MP3 players through a web feed such as on a blog.
pop-up. a new window that appears as a result of user action such as clicking a button.
real-time. synchronous activities; experiencing an event as it happens.
RSS (Rich Site Summary) or (Really Simply Syndication). a web content syndication format; a feed reader is used to check RSS enabled webpages on behalf of a user and display any updated information.
screen shot. an image of the screen of a computer or video monitor.
scrolling. moving all the displayed information on a display screen vertically.
synchronous. real-time interaction
thread. a side discussion taking place within the comments section of a blog. The term is taken for the forum discussion environment.
threaded discussions. a series of related messages often posted in a web forum environment.
upload. to transfer a file from your computer to a remote computer server.
usability testing. controlled observation and testing of software and hardware by potential users.
user friendly. hardware and software designed to be intuitive and easy-to-use
vogging. video blogging
web server. a computer with specialized network software used to storage and retrieve web pages and other remote files.


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Create your own distance learning glossary.
Keep track of words that are unfamiliar, as well as terms you might need to define for students in your courses.


Glossary terms adapted from Chapter 14 of Building Treehouses for Learning by Annette Lamb, 2006.
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