Online Learning Glossary

Asynchronous Learning—Learning that occurs anytime and anywhere.

AVI (Audio/Video Interleave)—The file format used by Video for Windows, one of three major video technologies used on PCs. (The others are MPEG and QuickTime.) In AVI, picture and sound elements are stored in alternate interleaved chunks in the file.

Bandwidth—How much data you can send through a connection i.e., a data pipeline. The higher the bandwidth, the faster data can flow. Usually measured in bits-per-second. Full-motion full-screen video would require roughly 10,000,000 bits-per-second, depending on compression.

Browser—A client software program used to search networks, retrieve copies of files and display them in an easy-to-read, often graphical, format. Example of browsers used to access information on the World Wide Web (Web) are Netscape and Internet Explorer.

CD-ROM (Compact Disk – Read Only Memory)—CDs are mastered and then can only be read; i.e., the data cannot be manipulated or removed.

Cookie—A Cookie refers to a piece of information sent by a Web Server to a Web Browser that the Browser software is expected to save and to send back to the Server whenever the browser makes additional requests from the Server. Cookies are usually set to expire after a predetermined amount of time and are usually saved in memory until the Browser software is closed down.

Computer—A device or system that is capable of carrying out a sequence of operations in defined manner. The operations are frequently numeric computations or data manipulations, but also include data input and output.

Cyberspace—A term coined by author William Gibson. It describes the imaginary space in which computer users travel when “surfing” the Internet. It’s a nebulous “place” where humans interact over computer networks (the Internet is considered Cyberspace).

Cyber ForumA forum on a Web site for the discussion of a specific topic or set of related topics.

Distance Learning (or Distance Education)—An instructional delivery system that does not constrain the student to be physically present in the same location as the instructor. Distance Education is a prepared teaching/learning experience that uses a variety of technologies that are designed to encourage learner interaction and augment learning opportunities.

Download—To transfer information stored in a remote computer to your (local) microcomputer, usually from a server to a client. You download a file from another computer to yours.

DVD (Digital Versatile Disc)—Once referred to as digital video discs, these high-capacity optical discs are now used to store everything from massive computer applications to full-length movies. They are very similar in size and appearance to a CD-ROM. However, a CD-ROM stores 650MB of storage, whereas, a standard single-layer, single-sided DVD can store 4.7GB of data. DVD also has a two-layer standard that boosts the single-sided capacity to 8.5GB and double-sided, it can store up to a maximum 17GB on a single disc. Unfortunately, to use DVDs, you’ll have to buy a DVD drive, but that new hardware will also read your older CD-ROMs and audio CDs.

E-mail (Electronic Mail)—Messages, usually text, sent from one person to another via computer. E-mail can also be sent automatically to a large number of addresses.

Emoticons—The expressions and inflections of voice in symbol form that we use to convey emotion, irony, sarcasm, etc. A system of symbols has been developed which uses common keyboard marks. An example is :), the symbol for smiling.

Fire Wall—A combination of hardware and software that separates a Local Area Network (LAN) into many parts for security purposes.

Floppy Disk—A removable storage medium that is used in conjunction with a floppy drive, 3.5-inch in size.

Gigabyte (GB)—A measure storage space, technically 1024 megabytes. Hard Drives now are measured in GB capacity.

Hard Drive—A storage medium located within a computer where a computer’s operating system, applications, and data usually reside.

Home Page—The opening page of a World Wide Web site.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)This is an acronym for HyperText Mark-up Language which is used to format information so that it can be structured and made accessible to the World Wide Web (WWW). The language itself is a simplified derivative of SGML, a widely used standard developed in the mid 1980’s. The technique employed is to encase the information in special markers (called tags) which tell the WWW applications how the text is to be interpreted.

Internet—A vast collection of interconnected networks that all use the TCP/IP protocols (evolved the late 60’s and early 70’s). The Internet is a global collection of computer networks interconnected with computer networks linked around the world. The Internet has two major meanings – First, the whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using Gopher, FTP, HTTP, telnet, USENET, WAIS and some other tools. Second, the universe of hypertext servers (HTTP servers) which are the servers that allow text, graphics, sound files, etc. to be mixed together.

ISP (Internet Service Provider)—A company or an institution that provides access to the Internet in some form, usually for a monthly fee.

Java—Java is a network-oriented programming language invented by Sun Microsystems. Java is designed for writing computer programs that can be safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet. Smaller Java programs (called “Applets”), can include functions such as animation that can be added to a Web page.

Kilobyte—A thousand bytes, technically 1024 bytes.

Login—The account name used to gain access to a computer system.

Lurking—Reading chat, forum, or newsgroups messages and not responding to them.

Macintosh (MAC)—a type of personal computer, manufactured by Apple Computer, and it is not a PC.

Megabyte—A million bytes technically, 1024 kilobytes.

MPEG (pronounced M-peg)—MPEG stands for Moving Picture Experts Group. MPEG is the name given to a set of standards used for coding audiovisual information (i.e., movies, music, and video) in a digital compressed format. The major advantage of MPEG compared to other video and audio coding formats is that MPEG files are much smaller for the same quality. Current standards that exist include, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-3, and MPEG4.

MOVTo view a file with the .mov extension, you need QuickTime multimedia technology to run it. MOV files can be movie clips, such as Video for Windows’ AVI files, or still images, such as GIFs.

Netiquette—Etiquette for the Web. It can be summed up as, “Be polite and don’t waste computer resources.”

Newbie—A person who is new to the Internet.

Online—You are online if you are working on your computer and are connected through a phone line (modem), cable access (cable modem), or through a satellite (dish).

Operating System—Software that controls the link between the user and the hardware. Popular operating systems include: Windows 95, 2000, ME, MacOS X, UNIX, and OS/2.

PC (Personal Computer)—Usually refers to what ‘s commonly known as an IBM-compatible computer, made by dozens of manufacturers. Some examples include Gateway, Dell, and HP.

Plug-in—A helper application that works within a browser and adds more functionality.

Protocol—A set of rules used by computer programmers when writing code for a specific software. Computers and networks interact according to standard protocols, which determine the behavior that each side of a network connection expects from the other side.

RAM (Random Access Memory)—The working space within a computer that may be used at one time. When the amount of RAM increases, the speed at which a computer works increases, so less time is spent accessing parts of the program from the hard drive. Information stored in RAM is lost when the computer’s power is off.

Server—A computer or a software package that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. For example, a single server machine could have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different servers to clients on the network.

Surfing—Cruising the Net. Oftentimes, surfing is a random, aimless exploration of web pages achieved through following links that look interesting within a document.

Synchronous LearningLearning that occurs at specific times. Often referred to as “Real-Time.”

T-1—A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at at high speeds. A T-1 is still not fast enough for full-screen, full-motion video. To do so, you would need at least 4 to 5 times the speed of one T-1 line.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)—This is the suite of protocols that defines the Internet. Originally designed for the UNIX operating system, TCP/IP software is now available for every major kind of computer operating system.

Threaded Discussions—A thread is a more or less a continuous chain of postings on a single topic within a discussion forum.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)—The standard way to give the address of any resource on the Internet that is part of the World Wide Web (WWW). A registered URL looks like this:(

Video Conferencing—The term Video Conferencing applies to a wide range of situations from live video lecturing to large audiences, to a point-to-point, individual-to-individual desktop PC. Usually allows for broadcast from a central point to many different locations regardless of distance. Video conferencing is the transmission of image (video) and speech (audio) back and forth between two or more physically separate locations through the use of cameras (to capture and send video from your local endpoint), video displays (to display video received from remote endpoints), microphones (to capture and send audio from your local endpoint), and speakers (to play audio received from remote endpoints).

Virtual Chat—A program that connects computers on a network for instantaneous, multi-way communication. For example, people who use chat can type a message to another user who has logged on and can respond immediately. On the Internet, chat is sometimes referred to as Internet Relay Chat (IRC).

WinZip—A type of zip extraction software program.

WWW (World Wide Web)—The WWW is a hypermedia retrieval system for information. It’s the newest medium of the Internet. Based on hypertext, the Web provides a quick and easy method of delivering and receiving information files which are read by a browser. The Web’s ability to transfer files containing not just text but also graphics, sound, and video makes it the most versatile and widely used of all the Internet services.

ZIP—Data compression and file packaging programs for personal computers. Examples include WinZip or PKZIP.