Glossary of eLearning Terms
Accessibility: A characteristic of technology that enables people with disabilities to use it. For example, accessible Websites can be navigated by people with visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive impairments. Accessible design also benefits people with older or slower software and hardware. See Section 508.
ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning): Initiative by the U.S. Department of Defense to achieve interoperability across computer and Internet-based learning courseware through the development of a common technical framework, which contains content in the form of reusable learning objects. See also SCORM and theADL Website.
ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line): A type of DSLthat uses the majority of the bandwidth to transmit information to the user and a small part of the bandwidth to receive information from the user.
AICC (Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee): An international association of technology-based training professionals that develops training guidelines for the aviation industry. AICC has and is developing standards for interoperability of computer-based and computer-managed training products across multiple industries. See the AICC Website.
Amplitude: The amount of variety in a signal. Commonly thought of as the height of a wave.
Analog: A signal that's received in the same form in which it is transmitted, although the amplitude and frequency may vary.
AoD (audio on demand): See CoD.
Application: Computer software; also called a program. There are many types of software that fit into the category of application. Application software is distinct from other forms of software, such as operating system and utility software.
ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interexchange): A computer code in which characters such as letters and symbols are converted into numbers that the computer can understand.
ASP (application service provider): A third-party organization that supplies software applications and/or software-related services over the Internet. ASPs allow companies to save money, time, and resources by outsourcing some or all of their information technology needs.
Assessment: The process used to systematically evaluate a learner's skill or knowledge level.
Assessment item: A question or measurable activity used to determine whether the learner has mastered a learning objective.
Asset: 1) Intellectual property. See knowledge asset. 2) Hardware and software owned by an organization.
Asynchronous learning: Learning in which interaction between instructors and students occurs intermittently with a time delay. Examples are self-paced courses taken via the Internet or CD-ROM, Q&A mentoring, online discussion groups, and email.
ATM (asynchronous transfer mode): A network technology for high-speed transfer of data. Packets of information are relayed in fixed sizes, enabling smooth transmission. ATM supports real-time voice and video as well as data and can reach speeds of up to 10 Gbps.
Audio bridge: A device used in audioconferencing that connects multiple telephone lines.
Audioconferencing: Voice-only connection of more than two sites using standard telephone lines.
Audiographics: Computer-based technology that enables simultaneous transmission of voice, data, and graphic images across local telephone lines for instructor-learner interaction.
Authoring tool: A software application or program used by trainers and instructional designers to create e-learning courseware. Types of authoring tools include instructionally focused authoring tools, Web authoring and programming tools, template-focused authoring tools, knowledge capture systems, and text and file creation tools.
Avatar: In online environments, a virtual digital image representing a person. In e-learning avatars usually represent the learners. The term comes from a Sanskrit word meaning an incarnation in human form.
Backbone: A primary communication path connecting multiple users.
Band: A range of frequencies between defined upper and lower limits.
Bandwidth: The nformation carrying capacity of a communication channel.
Baud: A measure of data transmission speed. At low speeds, baud is equal to the bits transmitted per second (bps). At higher speeds, one baud can represent more than one bit.
BBS (bulletin board system): An online community run on a host computer that users can dial or log into in order to post messages on public discussion boards, send and receive email, chat with other users, and upload and download files. BBSs are text-based and often related to the specific hobbies or interests of their creators.
Binary code: A coding system made up of numbers expressed in base-2 notation, using only the digits 0 and 1.
Bit: The most basic unit of information on a computer. In accordance with binary code, each bit is designated as either a 1 or a 0; all other information stored on the computer is composed of combinations of bits.
Blended learning: Learning events that combine aspects of online and face-to-face instruction.
Blog (Weblog): An extension of the personal Website consisting of regular journal-like entries posted on a Webpage for public viewing. Blogs usually contain links to other Websites along with the thoughts, comments, and personality of the blog's creator.
Bps (bits per second): A measurement of data transmission speed in a communications system; the number of bits transmitted or received each second.
Bridge: A device linking two or more sections of a network.
Broadband: 1) In layperson's terms, high speed transmission of data. In this use, the specific speed that defines broadband is subjective; the word often implies any speed above what is commonly used at the time. 2) In technical terms, transmission over a network in which more than one signal is carried at a time. Broadband technology can transmit data, audio, and video all at once over long distances. See also narrowband.
Broadcast: (noun) Television or radio signals designed to reach a mass audience. (Some Websites offer original or redistributed broadcasts--see Webcast.)
(verb) 1) To transmit television or radio signals. 2) To email or fax a message to multiple recipients simultaneously; to transmit information simultaneously to everyone on a network.
Browser: A software application that displays World Wide Web pages originally written in the text-based HTML language in a user-friendly graphical format.
Business requirements: The conditions an e-learning solution should meet to align with the needs of such stakeholders as the content developer, subject matter expert, learner, manager, and training administrator.
Byte: A combination of 8 bits.
Cable modem: A modem that uses cable television's coaxial cables to transmit data at faster speeds than modems using telephone lines.
CAI (computer-assisted instruction): The use of a computer as a medium of instruction for tutorial, drill and practice, simulation, or games. CAI is used for both initial and remedial training, and typically does not require that a computer be connected to a network or provide links to learning resources outside of the course. See also CBT.
CBL (computer-based learning): See CBT.
CBT (computer-based training): An umbrella term for the use of computers in both instruction and management of the teaching and learning process. CAI (computer-assisted instruction) and CMI (computer-managed instruction) are included under the heading of CBT. Some people use the terms CBT and CAI interchangeably.
Certification: 1) The awarding of a credential acknowledging that an individual has demonstrated proof of a minimum level of knowledge or competence, as defined by a professional standards organization. Professional certification can be used as a screening tool and verification of an individual's skills and knowledge.
2) Program that evaluates products or tools according to predetermined criteria, such as ASTD's E-Learning Courseware Certification (eCC).
Chat: Real-time text-based communication in a virtual environment. Chat can be used in e-learning for student questions, instructor feedback, or even group discussion.
Chat room: A virtual meeting space on the Internet, an intranet, or other network, used for real-time text discussions. Unlike one-to-one instant messengerapplications, chat rooms enable conversations among multiple people at once.
Chunk: (noun) A discrete portion of content, often consisting of several learning objects grouped together. (verb) To separate content into discrete portions or aggregate smaller content elements into customized configurations.
CLO (Chief Learning Officer): The executive with primary responsibility for strategic human capital development. The CLO ensures that all learning investments focus on accomplishing the organization's mission, strategy, and goals; provides a single point of accountability for those investments; develops the corporate learning strategy; creates a culture of continuous learning; fosters communities of practice; integrates training functions; drives cultural transformation; and measures the impact on organizational performance. The CLO increasingly reports to either the CEO or senior vice president of HR. He or she is to learning what the CFO and CIO are to finance and information technology.
Classroom training: See instructor-led training.
CMS (content management system): A centralized software application or set of applications that facilitates and streamlines the process of designing, testing, approving, and posting e-learning content, usually on Webpages.
Coaching:.A process in which a more experienced person, the coach, provides a worker or workers with constructive advice and feedback with the goal of improving performance. (See also mentoring, which focuses on career development and advancement)
Codec (coder/decoder): Device used to convert analog signals to digital signals for transmission, and to reconvert signals upon reception at the remote site, while allowing for the signal to be compressed for less expensive transmission.
Collaboration technology: Software, platforms, or services that enable people at different locations to communicate and work with each other in a secure, self-contained environment. May include capabilities for document management, application sharing, presentation development and delivery, whiteboarding, chat, and more.
Common carrier: A government-regulated private company that furnishes the public with telecommunications services (for example, phone companies).
Competency management: A system used to evaluate skills, knowledge, and performance within an organization; spot gaps; and introduce training, compensation, and recruiting programs based on current or future needs.
Compliant (standards-compliant): E-learning that meets established standards of, and has received official approval from, an accrediting organization. See alsoconformant.
Compressed file: A computer file that has been reduced in size by a compression software program. The user must decompress these files before they can be viewed or used.
Compressed video: Video signals downsized to allow travel along a smaller carrier.
Connect time: The amount of time that a terminal or computer has been logged on to a computer or server for a particular session.
Content: Information captured digitally and imparted to learners. Formats for e-learning content include text, audio, video, animation, simulation, and more.
Convergence: A result of the digital era in which various types of digital information, such as text, audio, and video, and their delivery mechanisms--television, telecommunications, and consumer electronics--are combined together in new integrated forms. WebTV is an example of convergence between televisions and computer technology.
Cookie: Information stored on a user's computer after he or she visits a Website. The cookie tracks data about that user but can be disabled in the browser.
Corporate university: A learning organization with a governance system that aligns all learning with the corporate or agency mission, strategy, and goals. The governance system typically includes a governing board consisting of the CEO and other senior executives and a chief learning officer (CLO) who has overall responsibility for managing the organization's investment in learning. CEOs of best-practice learning organizations leverage their corporate university to achieve performance goals, drive cultural transformation, reform and integrate training departments, and establish and sustain competitive advantage through learning.
Courseware: Any type of instructional or educational course delivered via a software program or over the Internet.
CPU (central processing unit): The part of the computer that contains the microprocessor, power supply, hard drive, and disk drives.
CSS (cascading style sheets): An HTML feature that enables Webpage developers and users to specify the way a Webpage appears when displayed in a browser, by applying a number of different style sheets to the page. Each style sheet controls a different design element or set of design elements.
Customer-focused e-learning: Technology-based learning programs offered by a company and targeted at their current and prospective customers. The intent is to increase brand loyalty among existing customers and attract new business
Cyberspace: The nebulous "place" where humans interact over computer networks; term coined by William Gibson in Neuromancer.
De facto standard: An e-learning specification that hasn't been officially established by an accrediting agency but that is accepted and used as a standard by a majority of practitioners.
Default: A setting that the computer system uses automatically, unless it is changed by the user.
Desktop videoconferencing: Videoconferencing on a personal computer.
Development: 1) Learning or other types of activities that prepare a person for additional job responsibilities and/or enable him to gain knowledge or skills. 2) The creation of training materials or courses, as in content development or e-learning development.
Dial up: To open a connection between a user's computer and another computer via a modem.
Digital: An electrical signal that varies in discrete steps in voltage, frequency, amplitude, locations, and so forth. Digital signals can be transmitted faster and more accurately than analog signals.
Discussion boards: Forums on the Internet or an intranet where users can post messages for others to read.
Distance education: Educational situation in which the instructor and students are separated by time, location, or both. Education or training courses are delivered to remote locations via synchronous or asynchronous means of instruction, including written correspondence, text, graphics, audio- and videotape, CD-ROM, online learning, audio- and videoconferencing, interactive TV, and FAX. Distance education does not preclude the use of the traditional classroom. The definition of distance education is broader than and entails the definition of e-learning.
Distance learning: The desired outcome of distance education. The two terms are often used interchangeably.
Download: (noun) A file that's transferred or copied to a user's computer from another connected individual computer, a computer network, a commercial online service, or the Internet. (verb) To transfer or copy a file to a user's computer from another connected individual computer, a computer network, a commercial online service, or the Internet.
DS (Digital Signal): The rate and format of a digital signal, for example, DS-1 or DS-3. Often used synonymously with T, as in T1 or T3, although the T technically refers to the type of equipment. See T1 and T3.
DSL (digital subscriber line): A broadband Internet access method that sends data over standard phone lines at speeds up to 7 Mbps. DSL is available to subscribers who live within a certain distance of the necessary router.
DVD (digital versatile disc): Optical disks that are the same size as CDs but are double-sided and have larger storage capacities.
DVI (digital video interactive): A format for recording digital video onto compact disk, allowing for compression and full-motion video.
Echo cancellation: The process of eliminating the acoustic echo in a videoconferencing room.
E-learning (electronic learning): Term covering a wide set of applications and processes, such as Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. It includes the delivery of content via Internet, intranet/extranet (LAN/WAN), audio- and videotape, satellite broadcast, interactive TV, CD-ROM, and more.
Email (electronic mail): Messages sent from one computer user to another.
Enterprise-wide e-learning: E-learning that's intended for all or most employees within a company. It's often part of a strategic change of direction with a very short timeline, but is also used to support a core process such as sales.
EPSS (electronic performance support system): 1) A computer application that's linked directly to another application to train or guide workers through completing a task in the target application. 2) More generally, a computer or other device that gives workers information or resources to help them accomplish a task or achieve performance requirements.
Ergonomics: Design principles relating to the comfort, efficiency, and safety of users.
ERP (enterprise resource planning): A set of activities supported by application software that helps a company manage such core parts of its business as product planning, parts purchasing, inventory management, order tracking, and customer service. Can also include modules for finance and HR activities. The deployment of an ERP system can involve considerable business process analysis, employee retraining, and new work procedures.
Ethernet: A type of local area network, originally developed at Xerox, in which computers communicate through radio frequency signals sent over coaxial cable.
Evaluation: Any systematic method for gathering information about the impact and effectiveness of a learning offering. Results of the measurements can be used to improve the offering, determine whether the learning objectives have been achieved, and assess the value of the offering to the organization.
Extensibility: The ability to expand and adapt an e-learning application or infrastructure by adding features, components, or services to a core set of capabilities.
Extranet: A local-area network (LAN) or wide-area network (WAN) using TCP/IP, HTML, SMTP, and other open Internet-based standards to transport information. An extranet is only available to people inside and certain people outside an organization, as determined by the organization.
Facilitative tools: Electronic features used to deliver online courses. Examples include mailing lists, chat programs, streaming audio, streaming video, and Webpages.
Facilitator: The online course instructor who aids learning in the online, student-centered environment.
FAQ (frequently asked questions): An informational list, in question and answer format, of common inquiries from users about a topic or application and standard responses. FAQs appear on Websites and discussion boards and within desktop applications.
Fax (facsimile): (noun) The print-out of information transmitted via text and/or graphic images over standard telephone lines. (verb) To transmit information via text and/or graphic images over standard telephone lines.
Feedback: Communication between the instructor or system and the learner resulting from an action or process.
Fiber-optic cable: Glass fiber used for laser transmission of video, audio, and/or data. Fiber-optic cable has a much greater bandwidth capacity than conventional cable or copper wire.
File server: A computer on a network with the primary task of storing files that can be shared by network users.
Firewall: A technology that gives users access to the Internet while retaining internal network security.
FireWire: Apple Computer's trademarked name for its high-speed serial bus supporting the IEEE 1394 data transfer standard. FireWire enables the connection of up to 63 devices and transfers data at a speed of up to 400 mbps.
Floppy disk (floppy diskette): A data storage medium used with a personal computer. Current floppy disks can store up to 1.44 MB of data and are usually 3 1/2 inches in size. Older floppy disks were 5 and ¼ inches. Also spelled as floppy disc.
Footprint: 1) The regions to which a communications satellite can transmit. 2) The floor or desk surface space occupied by a piece of computer equipment.
Frequency: The space between waves in a signal; the amount of time between waves passing a stationary point.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol): A protocol that enables a user to move files from a distant computer to a local computer using a network like the Internet.
Full-motion video: A signal that allows the transmission of the complete action taking place at the origination site.
Fully interactive video (two-way interactive video): Two sites interacting with audio and video as if they were colocated.
GB (gigabyte): Just over one billion bytes. 1,000 megabytes.
GIF (Graphics Interchange Format): The ile format developed by CompuServe to store images. GIFs support 256 colors and are often used for Web images because they compress well.
Globalization: 1) The tailoring of an offering to include clear, grammatically correct text that eliminates slang, gender references, and cultural or generational idioms. 2) The process of deploying a single system worldwide that meets a variety of needs. 3) Integrating several working systems into one.
Granularity: The degree of detail something can be broken down into, or the number of discrete components making up any type of system. In e-learning, granularity is defined by the number of content chunks.
GUI (graphical user interface): A computer interface using icons or pictures. For example, Windows.
Hard skills: Technical skills. See also soft skills.
HDTV (high-definition TV): A television signal that has over five times the resolution of standard television and requires extraordinary bandwidth.
Homepage: A document that has an address (URL) on the World Wide Web, is maintained by a person or an organization, and contains pointers to other pieces of information.
Host: (noun) A computer connected to a network. (verb) To store and manage another company's technology and/or content on your own servers.
HRD (human resource development): 1) A term coined by Leonard Nadler to describe the organized learning experiences, such as training, education, and development, offered by employers within a specific timeframe to improve employee performance or personal growth. 2) Another name for the field and profession sometimes called training or training and development.
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): The programming language used to create documents for display on the World Wide Web.
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol): The set of rules and standards that govern how information is transmitted on the World Wide Web.
Hub: A network device that connects communication lines together.
Hypermedia: Applications or documents that contain dynamic links to other media, such as audio, video, or graphics files.
Hypertext: A system for retrieving information from servers on the Internet using World Wide Web client software. Hypertext consists of key words or phrases in a WWW page that are linked electronically to other Webpages.
IEEE (The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers): An organization whose Learning Technology Standards Committee is working to develop technical standards, recommended practices, and guides for computer implementations of education and training systems.
ILS (integrated learning system): A complete software, hardware, and network system used for instruction. In addition to providing curriculum and lessons organized by level, an ILS usually includes a number of tools such as assessments, record keeping, report writing, and user information files that help to identify learning needs, monitor progress, and maintain student records.
ILT (instructor-led training): Usually refers to traditional classroom training, in which an instructor teaches a course to a room of learners. The term is used synonymously with on-site training and classroom training (c-learning).
IMS (Instructional Management System) Global Learning Consortium: Coalition of government organizations dedicated to defining and distributing open architecture interoperability specifications for e-learning products. See the IMS Website.
Information architecture: A description or design specification for how information should be treated and organized. In Web design, the term describes the the organization of online content into categories and the creation of an interface for displaying those categories.
Infrastructure: The underlying mechanism or framework of a system. In e-learning, the infrastructure includes the means by which voice, video, and data can be transferred from one site to another and be processed.
Instant messenger (IM): Software that lists users' selected "buddies" (friends, family, co-workers, and so forth) who are online and enables users to send short text messages back and forth to them. Some instant messenger programs also include voice chat, file transfer, and other applications.
Integration: Combining hardware, software (and, in e-learning, content) components together to work as an interoperable system. The process of integration may also include front-end planning and strategy.
Intellectual property: An idea, invention, formula, literary work, presentation, or other knowledge asset owned by an organization or individual. Intellectual property can be protected by patents, trademarks, service marks, and/or copyrights.
Interactive media: Allows for a two-way interaction or exchange of information.
Internet: An international network first used to connect education and research networks, begun by the US government. The Internet now provides communication and application services to an international base of businesses, consumers, educational institutions, governments, and research organizations.
Internet-based training: Training delivered primarily by TCP/IP network technologies such as email, newsgroups, proprietary applications, and so forth. Although the term is often used synonymously with Web-based training, Internet-based training is not necessarily delivered over the World Wide Web, and may not use the HTTP and HTML technologies that make Web-based training possible.
Internet Explorer: Browser software that enables users to view Webpages.
Interoperability: The ability of hardware or software components to work together effectively.
Intranet: A LAN or WAN that's owned by a company and is only accessible to people working internally. It is protected from outside intrusion by a combination of firewalls and other security measures.
IP (Internet Protocol): The international standard for addressing and sending data via the Internet.
ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network): A telecommunications standard enabling communications channels to carry voice, video, and data simultaneously.
ISP (Internet service provider): A hosting company that provides end user access to such Internet services as email, the World Wide Web, FTP, newsgroups, and so forth.
IT (information technology): The industry or discipline involving the collection, dissemination, and management of data, typically through the use of computers.
ITFS (Instructional Television Fixed Service): Microwave-based, high-frequency television used in educational program delivery.
IT training: A combination of desktop training and information systems and technical training. Includes training in areas such as system infrastructure software, application software, and application development tools.
Java: An object-oriented programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. Java isn't dependent on specific hardware and can be launched from within an HTML document or stand- alone.
Job aid: Any simple tool that helps a worker do his or her job (for example, a flow chart to follow when answering a customer service call). Job aids generally provide quick reference information rather than in-depth training.
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group): 1) A format for image compression that enables the user to weigh image quality against file size. JPEG is a lossy compression method, meaning that when the image is compressed, the file is made smaller by discarding some of its information. The more the file is compressed, the more information is discarded, and the more the image quality is degraded. 2) The subgroup of the International Organization for Standardization responsible for setting the standards for the image file format that bears its name.
KB (kilobyte): 1,024 bytes.
Kbps (Kilobits per second): Measurement of data transmission speed in a communication system. The number of kilobits transmitted or received each second.
KMS (knowledge management system): See knowledge management.
Knowledge asset: Intellectual content possessed by an organization. Any piece of information that a worker at a company knows, from customer names to how to fix a piece of machinery, can be considered a knowledge asset. Assets can be codified in a variety of formats, such as PowerPoint slides, Word documents, audio and video files, and so forth.
Knowledge management: The process of capturing, organizing, and storing information and experiences of workers and groups within an organization and making it available to others. By collecting those artifacts in a central or distributed electronic environment (often in a database called a knowledge base), KM aims to help a company gain competitive advantage.
LAN (local-area network): A group of personal computers and/or other devices, such as printers or servers, that are located in a relatively limited area, such as an office, and can communicate and share information with each other.
LCMS (learning content management system): A software application (or set of applications) that manages the creation, storage, use, and reuse of learning content. LCMSs often store content in granular forms such as learning objects.
Learning environment: The physical or virtual setting in which learning takes place.
Learning object: A reusable, media-independent collection of information used as a modular building block for e-learning content. Learning objects are most effective when organized by a meta data classification system and stored in a data repository such as an LCMS.
Learning platforms: Internal or external sites often organized around tightly focused topics, which contain technologies (ranging from chat rooms to groupware) that enable users to submit and retrieve information.
Learning portal: Any Website that offers learners or organizations consolidated access to learning and training resources from multiple sources. Operators of learning portals are also called content aggregators, distributors, or hosts.
Learning space: An imaginary geography in which the learning enterprise flourishes. Mapped by market analysts and mined by consultants, this territory is a recent annexation to the business landscape.
Link: The result of HTML markup signifying to a browser that data within a document will automatically connect with either nested data or an outside source. Used in the design of hypertext.
LMS (learning management system): Software that automates the administration of training. The LMS registers users, tracks courses in a catalog, records data from learners; and provides reports to management. An LMS is typically designed to handle courses by multiple publishers and providers. It usually doesn't include its own authoring capabilities; instead, it focuses on managing courses created by a variety of other sources.
Log in/Log on: To establish a connection over a network or modem with a remote computer to retrieve or exchange information.
Log off: To terminate a connection to a computer or network.
LRN: Microsoft's Learning Resource Interchange, a format that gives content creators a standard way to identify, share, update, and create online content and courseware. LRN is the first commercial application of the IMS Content Packaging Specification.
Lurking: Reading the postings in a discussion forum or on a listserv but not contributing to the discussion.
Markup: Text or codes added to a document to convey information about it. Usually used to formulate a document's layout or create links to other documents or information servers. HTML is a common form of markup.
MB (megabyte): 1,048,576 bytes, often generically applied to 1,000,000 bytes as well.
Mbps (megabits per second): A measurement of data transmission speed in a communication system; the number of megabits transmitted or received each second.
Mentoring: A career development process in which less experienced workers are matched with more experienced colleagues for guidance. Mentoring can occur either through formal programs or informally as required and may be delivered in-person or by using various media.
Microwave: Electromagnetic waves that travel in a straight line and are used to and from satellites and for short distances up to 30 miles.
Modem: A device that enables computers to interact with each other via telephone lines by converting digital signals to analog for transmitting and back to digital for receiving.
MOO (MUD, object oriented): A MUD created with an object-oriented programming language.
MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group): 1) A high-quality video file format that uses compression to keep file sizes relatively small. 2) The subgroup of theInternational Organization for Standardization responsible for setting the standards for this format.
MP3: A format for music file compression that enables users to download music over the Internet.
MUD (multi-user dimension or multi-user domain): A simulated virtual world in which users interact with each other, often by taking on character identities called avatars. Originally created for game-playing, MUDs are growing in popularity for online learning and virtual community-building.
Multicasting: The transmission of information to more than one recipient. For example, sending an email message to a list of people. Teleconferencing and videoconferencing can also use multicasting. See also broadcasting and unicasting.
Multimedia: Encompasses interactive text, images, sound, and color. Multimedia can be anything from a simple PowerPoint slide slow to a complex interactive simulation.
Navigation: 1) Moving from Webpage to Webpage on the World Wide Web. 2) Moving through the pages of an online site that may not be part of the WWW, including an intranet site or an online course.
Nesting: Placing documents within other documents. Allows a user to access material in a nonlinear fashion, the primary requirement for developing hypertext.
Netiquette: Online manners. The rules of conduct for online or Internet users.
Netscape Navigator: Browser software that enables users to view Webpages.
Network: Two or more computers that are connected so users can share files and devices (for example, printers, servers, and storage devices).
Object-oriented programming: A type of computer programming that allows programmers to define the following as objects: data types, data structures, and the functions or operations that are to be applied to the objects. Object-oriented programming languages include Java, Smalltalk, and C++.
Online: The state in which a computer is connected to another computer or server via a network. A computer communicating with another computer.
Online community: A meeting place on the Internet for people who share common interests and needs. Online communities can be open to all or be by membership only and may or may not be moderated.
Open source software: 1) Generally, software for which the original program instructions, the source code, is made available so that users can access, modify, and redistribute it. The Linux operating system is an example of open source software. 2) Software that meets each of nine requirements listed by the non-profitOpen Source Initiative in its Open Source Definition.
Origination site: The location from which a teleconference originates.
Packet: A bundle of data transmitted over a network. Packets have no set size; they can range from one character to hundreds of characters.
PDA (personal digital assistant): Handheld computer device used to organize personal information such as contacts, schedules, and so forth. Data can usually be transferred to a desktop computer by cable or wireless transmission.
PDF (portable document format): File format developed by Adobe Systems to enable users of any hardware or software platform to view documents exactly as they were created--with fonts, images, links, and layouts as they were originally designed.
Peer-to-peer network (P2P): A communications network that enables users to connect their computers and share files directly with other users, without having to go through a centralized server. Groove is an example of an application that runs on a peer-to-peer network.
Personalization: Tailoring Web content to an individual user. Can be accomplished by a user entering preferences or by a computer guessing about the user's preferences.
Pixel (Picture Element): Tiny dots that make up a computer image. The more pixels a computer monitor can display, the better the image resolution and quality. On a color monitor, every pixel is composed of a red, a green, and a blue dot that are small enough to appear as a single entity.
Plug-and-play: The ability of a personal computer's operating system to recognize and install-- with little to no intervention by the user--new peripheral devices that are added to the computer. Also spelled plug-n-play or plug 'n' play.
Plugfest: A biannual event sponsored by the Advanced Distributed Learning Networkthat brings together early adopters of the SCORM specifications to validate and document their process in meeting requirements for reuse, adaptability, interoperability, cost-effectiveness, and global access.
Plug-in: An accessory program that adds capabilities to the main program. Used on Webpages to display multimedia content.
Point-to-multipoint: Transmission between multiple locations using a bridge.
Point-to-point: Transmission between two locations.
Post: To place a message in a public message forum. Also, to place an HTML page on the World Wide Web.
PPP: A software package that enables a user to connect directly to the Internet over a telephone line.
Practice item: 1) A question or learning activity that serves as an informal validation and reinforcement of instruction. 2) A sample question that precedes a test, designed to ensure that the learner understands the mechanics of the testing system.
Practices: A set of methods or procedures to be followed, as in best practices orstandard practices. In e-learning, the methods used to communicate the content to the learner.
Prescriptive learning: A process in which only coursework that matches a learner's identified skill and knowledge gaps is offered to him or her, with the goal of making the learning experience more meaningful, efficient, and cost-effective.
Program: See application.
Projection system: A device for showing video, television, or computer images on a large screen.
Protocol: A formal set of standards, rules, or formats for exchanging data that assures uniformity between computers and applications.
Pull technology: In reference to the Internet or other online services, the technology whereby people use software such as a Web browser to locate and "pull down" information for themselves. See also push technology.
RAM (random-access memory): Temporary storage built into a computer system that functions as a "workspace" for data and program instructions.
Real-time communication: Communication in which information is received at (or nearly at) the instant it's sent. Real-time communication is a characteristic of synchronous learning.
Receive site: A location that can receive transmissions from another site for distance learning.
Resolution: The clarity of the image on the video display screen.
RFID (radio frequency identification): A wireless information-transmission technology set to take the place of bar codes. A tag is placed on the object and then read by an antenna and transceiver. The object does not need to be in the same line of sight as the transceiver, as products with bar codes do, and the transceiver can function over greater distances than bar code readers.
RFP (request for proposal): A document produced by a company seeking goods or services and distributed to prospective suppliers. Suppliers then provide proposals based on the criteria specified within the RFP.
RIO (reusable information object): A collection of content, practice, and assessment items assembled around a single learning objective. RIOs are built from templates based on whether the goal is to communicate a concept, fact, process, principle, or procedure. (Pronounced "REE-O")
ROI (return on investment): Generally, a ratio of the benefit or profit received from a given investment to the cost of the investment itself. In e-learning, ROI is most often calculated by comparing the tangible results of training (for example, an increase in units produced or a decrease in error rate) to the cost of providing the training.
Role play: (noun) A training technique in which learners act out characters in order to try out behaviors, practice interactions, communicate for a desired outcome, and/or solve a dynamic problem. Role plays can reinforce learning and help people apply new information, skills, and techniques. (verb) To participate in a role play.
Satellite TV: Video and audio signals relayed via a communication device that orbits around the earth.
Scalability: The degree to which a computer application or component can be expanded in size, volume, or number of users served and continue to function properly.
Scanner: A device that converts a printed page or image into an digital representation that can be viewed and manipulated on a computer.
Schema: 1) A relatively simple textual description or representation of the internal structure of a database, including table names, element names, and relationships between elements. 2) One of several new entities that define the structure and content parameters for XML documents.
SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model): A set of specifications that, when applied to course content, produces small, reusable learning objects. A result of the Department of Defense's Advance Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative, SCORM-compliant courseware elements can be easily merged with other compliant elements to produce a highly modular repository of training materials.
Screen reader: Computer software that speaks text on the screen. Often used by individuals who are visually impaired.
Screenshot: A picture of a computer display that shows the display at a given point in time. Also called a screen capture. Annotated screenshots are often used in software manuals and training programs.
Script: A program or set of instructions not carried out by the computer processor but by another program. Code is interpreted at run time rather than being stored in executable format.
Scripting language: See Script.
Scroll: To move text and images on a computer screen in a constant direction--down, up, right, or left.
Section 508: The section of the 1998 Rehabilitation Act that states that all electronic and information technology procured, used, or developed by the federal government after June 25, 2001, must be accessible to people with disabilities. Affected technology includes hardware such as copiers, fax machines, telephones, and other electronic devices as well as application software and Websites. Seehttp://www.section508.gov/.
Seamless technology: Technology that's easy to use, intuitive in nature, and isn't the focus of the learning experience. Also called transparent technology.
The Semantic Web: A concept proposed by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee. States that the Web can be made more useful by using methods such as content tags to enable computers to understand what they're displaying and to communicate effectively with each other. That, says Berners-Lee, will increase users' ability to find the information they see.
Serial bus: A channel through which information flows, one bit at a time, between two or more devices in or connected to a computer. A bus typically has multiple points of access through which devices can attach to it.
Server: A computer with a special service function on a network, generally to receive and connect incoming information traffic.
Simulations: Highly interactive applications that allow the learner to model or role-play in a scenario. Simulations enable the learner to practice skills or behaviors in a risk-free environment.
Skill gap analysis: Compares a person's skills to the skills required for the job to which they have been, or will be, assigned. A simple skill gap analysis consists of a list of skills required along with a rating of the employee's level for each skill. Ratings below a predetermined level identify a skill gap.
Skills inventory: A list of skills or competencies that an individual posssess, usually created by self-evaluation.
Slow scan converter: A transmitter or receiver of still video over narrowband channels. In real time, camera subjects must remain still for highest resolution.
Soft skills: Business skills such as communication and presentation, leadership and management, human resources, sales and marketing, professional development, project and time management, customer service, team building, administration, accounting and finance, purchasing, and personal development.
Spam: (noun) Junk email that is sent, unsolicted and in bulk, to advertise products or services or publicize a message. The term may have originated from a Monty Python song. (verb) To send unsolicited bulk email to advertise products or services or publicize a message.
Specification: A plan, instruction, or protocol for e-learning that's established or agreed upon. Specification is often used interchangeably with standard, but the two terms are not truly synonymous. Specifications become standards only after they've been approved by an accrediting agency.
SQL: Language for accessing information in a database and updating entries.
Stakeholder: A person with a vested interest in the successful completion of a project. Stakeholders in e-learning often include the developer, the facilitator, the learners, the learners’ managers, customers, and so forth.
Streaming media (streaming audio or video): Audio or video files played as they are being downloaded over the Internet instead of users having to wait for the entire file to download first. Requires a media player program.
Studying: The self-directed practice of reviewing instructional material (usually as a follow-up to instruction) to improve retention and understanding. Aims to increase or improve skills or knowledge in the long-term, although some people argue that studying only places information in the short-term memory and mainly serves the goal of improving performance on tests.
Style sheets: In traditional print publishing and on the Web, style sheets specify how a document should appear, standardizing such elements as fonts, page layout and line spacing, repeated content, and so forth. Web style sheets help ensure consistency across Webpages, but HTML coding can also override the sheets in designated sections of the pages. Also see CSS.
Synchronous learning: A real-time, instructor-led online learning event in which all participants are logged on at the same time and communicate directly with each other. In this virtual classroom setting, the instructor maintains control of the class, with the ability to "call on" participants. In most platforms, students and teachers can use a whiteboard to see work in progress and share knowledge. Interaction may also occur via audio- or videoconferencing, Internet telephony, or two-way live broadcasts.
Synergy: The dynamic energetic atmosphere created in an online class when participants interact and productively communicate with each other.
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.
T-1 (DS-1): High-speed digital data channel that is a high-volume carrier of voice and/or data. Often used for compressed video teleconferencing. T-1 has 24 voice channels.
T-3 (DS-3): A digital channel that communicates at a significantly faster rate than T-1.
TBT (technology-based training): The delivery of content via Internet, LAN or WAN (intranet or extranet), satellite broadcast, audio- or videotape, interactive TV, or CD-ROM. TBT encompasses both CBT and WBT.
TCP (Transmission Control Protocol): A protocol that ensures that packets of data are shipped and received in the intended order.
Teaching: A process that aims to increase or improve knowledge, skills, attitudes, and/or behaviors in a person to accomplish a variety of goals. Teaching is often driven more toward the long-term personal growth of the learner and less toward business drivers such as job tasks that are often the focus of training. Some people characterize teaching as focused on theory and training as focused on practical application. See also Training and Learning.
Telecommunication: The science of information transport using wire, radio, optical, or electromagnetic channels to transmit and receive signals for voice or data communications.
Telecommuting: Working at home but connecting to one's office by way of a computer network.
Teleconferencing: Two-way electronic communication between two or more groups in separate locations via audio, video, and/or computer systems.
Thin client: 1) A network computer without hard- or diskette drives that accesses programs and data from a server instead of storing them locally.
2) Software that performs the majority of its operations on a server rather than the local computer, thus requiring less memory and fewer plug-ins.
Thread: A series of messages on a particular topic posted in a discussion forum.
Touch screen: An input device used to simplify user input and response. The user touches the screen to control the output, working with menus or multiple-choice decision points. Allows some simulation of hands-on training; for example, pointing to parts on a machine.
Training: A process that aims to improve knowledge, skills, attitudes, and/or behaviors in a person to accomplish a specific job task or goal. Training is often focused on business needs and driven by time-critical business skills and knowledge, and its goal is often to improve performance. See also Teaching and Learning.
Training management system: See LMS.
Transparent technology: Technology that is easy to use, intuitive in nature, and not the focus of the learning experience. Also called seamless technology.
Transponder: Satellite transmitter and receiver that receives and amplifies a signal prior to retransmission to an earth station.
Trojan horse: A malicious computer program that appears legitimate but masks a destructive file or application. Unlike viruses, Trojan horses usually do not replicate themselves but can still cause a great deal of damage, such as creating an entryway into your computer for malevolent users.
Tutorial: Step-by-step instructions presented through computer or Web-based technology, designed to teach a user how to complete a particular action.
24/7: Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In e-learning, used to describe the hours of operation of a virtual classroom or how often technical support should be available for online students and instructors.
Unicasting: Communication between a sender and a single receiver over a network. For example, an email message sent from one person to another.
Uplink: The communication link from a transmitting earth station to a satellite.
Upload: To send a file from one computer or server to another.
URI (uniform resource identifier): Name and address of information--text, graphics, audio, video, and so forth--on the Internet. A URI usually identifies the application used to access the resource, the machine the resource is located on, and the file name of the resource. A Webpage address or URL is the most commonly used type of URI.
URL (uniform resource locator): The address of a page on the World Wide Web. For example, .
Value-added services: In the context of the e-learning industry, value-added services include custom training needs assessment and skill-gap analysis, curriculum design and development, pre- and posttraining mentoring and support, training effectiveness analysis, reporting and tracking tools, advisor services and implementation consulting, hosting and management of Internet- or intranet-based learning systems, integration of enterprise training delivery systems, and other services.
Vector graphic: An image created based on mathematical formulas rather than by an array of dots. Vector images look cleaner when they’re enlarged or shrunk because the mathematical formulas on which they’re based redraw the images to scale. See also raster graphic.
Videoconferencing: Using video and audio signals to link participants at different and remote locations.
Virtual community: See online community.
Virus: A destructive type of computer program that attempts to disrupt the normal operation of a computer, rewrite or delete information from storage devices, and in some cases, cause physical damage to the computer.
Virus detection program: A software program to detect, diagnose, and destroy computer viruses.
VoD (video on demand): SeeCoD.
VoIP (voice over IP): Voice transmitted digitally using the Internet Protocol. Avoids fees charged by telephone companies.
Vortal: Vertical portal; a portal that targets a niche audience.
VPN (virtual private network): A private network configured inside a public network. Offers the security of private networks with the economies of scale and built-in management capabilities of public networks.
WAN (wide-area network): A computer network that spans a relatively large area. Usually made up of two or more local area networks. The Internet is a WAN.
WAP (wireless application protocol): Specification that allows Internet content to be read by wireless devices.
WBT (Web-based training): Delivery of educational content via a Web browser over the public Internet, a private intranet, or an extranet. Web-based training often provides links to other learning resources such as references, email, bulletin boards, and discussion groups. WBT also may include a facilitator who can provide course guidelines, manage discussion boards, deliver lectures, and so forth. When used with a facilitator, WBT offers some advantages of instructor-led training while also retaining the advantages of computer-based training.
Web-based learning: See Web-based training.
Webcast: (Web + broadcast) (noun) A broadcast of video signals that's digitized and streamed on the World Wide Web, and which may also be made available for download. (verb) To digitize and stream a broadcast on the World Wide Web.
Web conference: (noun) A meeting of participants from disparate geographic locations that's held in a virtual environment on the World Wide Web, with communication taking place via text, audio, video, or a combination of those methods. (verb) To participate in a Web conference.
Webinar: (Web + seminar) A small synchronous online learning event in which a presenter and audience members communicate via text chat or audio about concepts often illustrated via online slides and/or an electronic whiteboard. Webinars are often archived as well for asynchronous, on-demand access.
Website: A set of files stored on the World Wide Web and viewed with a browser such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. A Website may consist of one or more Webpages.
Whiteboard: An electronic version of a dry-erase board that enables learners in a virtual classroom to view what an instructor, presenter, or fellow learner writes or draws. Also called a smartboard or electronic whiteboard.
Wi-fi (wireless fidelity): 1) Term developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance denoting products that can connect to each other without wires, acting as either wireless clients or base stations. Products bearing a “Wi-fi certified” label should always be interoperable; some non-logoed products will interoperate as well. 2) Any network adhering to the IEEE 802.11 standard, including 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and so forth.
Wizard: A mini-application that prompts a user through the steps of a particular computer-based action. The user provides necessary information as he or she proceeds through the wizard's screens, while the wizard completes the actual steps behind the scenes.
Workstation: 1) A device, often a microcomputer, that serves as an interface between a user and a file server or host computer. 2) More generally, a computer or a computer terminal.
Worm: A computer virus that replicates itself many times over for the purpose of consuming system resources, eventually shutting down a computer or server. This type of virus is most often directed at mail servers such as Microsoft Exchange and is usually unleashed when an unsuspecting user opens an email attachment.
WORM (write once, read many): A type of data storage disk that allows information to be saved to it only once, archiving permanent data. WORM disks must be read by the same kind of drive that wrote them, thus hindering widespread acceptance of this technology.
WWW (World Wide Web): A graphical hypertext-based Internet tool that provides access to Webpages created by individuals, businesses, and other organizations.
WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get): Pronounced "wizzy wig," a WYSIWYG program allows designers to see text and graphics on screen exactly as they will appear when printed out or published online, rather than in programming code.
XML (Extensible Markup Language): The next-generation Webpage coding language that allows site designers to program their own markup commands, which can then be used as if they were standard HTML commands.
XSL (eXtensible Stylesheet Language or eXtensible Style Language): A Webpage design language that creates style sheets for XML pages, which separate style from content so that developers can specify how and where information is displayed on the page.
Zip file: 1) A file that has been compressed, often with the .ZIP format originated by PKWARE. 2) A file on a Zip disk, not necessarily compressed. 3) A compressed file with the .EXE extension that is self-extracting (can be unzipped simply by opening it).