The following glossary serves to clarify common terms that are used in the context of educational technology. The purpose of including this list is to move toward a shared and clearer understanding of the meanings of the terms. We have found that across institutions and within institutions, including UO, many terms have multiple meanings and this has created confusion and misunderstandings among service providers, faculty and administration. Our intention here is to assist with clarification and accuracy. The following represents definitions that have been drawn from established sources and does not represent a comprehensive list, rather a sampling of terms often used and often misleading in their usage.
A requirement by law that learning materials, including interfaces, images, sounds, multimedia elements, and all other forms of information, must be made available for use by anyone, regardless of disability. The degree to which an e-tool makes course content attainable to diverse learners. The1998 Rehabilitation Act, section 508 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.
The process of having students engage in some activity that reflects upon ideas and concepts. Requiring students to regularly assess their own degree of understanding and skill at handling concepts or problems in a particular discipline – the attainment of knowledge by participating or contributing. The process of keeping students mentally, and often physically, active in their learning through activities that involve gathering information, thinking and problem solving
Asynchronous Instruction and Learning
Instruction, engagement and learning that are not simultaneous, are taking place at varying times and schedules rather than during a set meeting time.
Online course activity complements class sessions without reducing the number of required class meetings. Technology usage is required to complete some course requirements, augmenting classroom activity or supplanting less than 20 percent of traditional classroom activity. Traditional courses and blended courses are very similar, but are placed in separate categories because blended courses require additional faculty and student support, and very likely additional technology.
Services and tools that support the use of technology in the physical face-to-face classroom or provide technology for classroom use. Also staff, hardware, software, etc. used to provide or support classroom technology.
1) Students advance upon mastery. 2) Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students. 3) Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students. 4) Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs. 5) Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge along with the development of important skills and dispositions.
E-learning that meets established standards of, and has received official approval from, an accrediting organization. See also conformant.
CMI (Computer-Managed Instruction)
The use of computer technology to oversee the learning process, including testing and record keeping.
E-learning that meets the standards of an accrediting organization but that has not gone through the formal application process to be deemed compliant.
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.
Continuing Education Unit (CEU)
One CEU (Continuing Education Unit) is normally defined as 10 contact hours of participation in an organized continuing education experience under responsible sponsorship, capable direction, and qualified instruction. Distinct from academic credit hour, the CEU is a measure of attendance hours. Typical applications of a CEU are with professional associations requiring documentation of on-going education such as educators, medical and health professionals in order to retain current licensing status.
Continuing Professional Education
Programs and courses designed specifically for individuals who have completed a degree in a professional field (such as law, medicine, dentistry, education, or social work) to obtain additional training in their particular field of study. May offer CEU or academic credit.
Course Management System (CMS)
The technology platform through which online courses are offered. A CMS includes software for the creation and editing of course content, communication tools, assessment tools, and other features designed to enhance access and ease of use.” (Watson & Kalmon, 2005, p. 120). See Learning Management System.
A course that offers academic credit based upon the Carnegie Unit of approximately 30 hours of engagement per credit, typically distributed as 10 hours face-to-face and an additional 20 hours engaged in assignments. A course that, if successfully completed, can be applied toward the number of courses required for achieving a postsecondary degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award, irrespective of the activity’s unit of measurement.
The organization of services and resources that often are “stand-alone” and/or operate independent of a centralized reporting and resource model.
An electronic media resource (or digital file; or collection of files) used as a lesson objective, course material, or a lesson concept, that can be used and reused for instructional purposes.
The use of digital technology to replace written material so that it can be disseminated and accessed through computerized electronic devices. (See this report!)
Research and teaching that is made possible by digital technologies, or that takes advantage of them to ask and answer questions in new ways.
Any type of educational activity in which the participants are at a distance from each other–in other words, are separated in space. They may or may not be separated in time (asynchronous vs. synchronous). Current meaning utilizes digital technologies to disseminate and communicate with students, original distance education models included “correspondence courses” and faculty traveling to multiple remote sites to deliver content. Models for contemporary distance education include distributed students with real-time or asynchronous access to an instructor, other students, or online materials; students assembled in a classroom with a remote instructor; students and instructor(s) in multiple classrooms connected simultaneously; and other variations.
Distance Learning Program
A program in which over half of the required courses in the program occur when the learner and the instructor are not in the same place at the same time. These programs include those offered by the professional educational unit through a contract with an outside vendor or in a consortium arrangement with other higher education institutions, as well as those offered solely by the unit. See Distance Education.
Any learning that allows instructor, students, and content to be located in different locations so that instruction and learning occur independent of time and place; often used synonymously with the term “Distance Learning”.
Wide array of technologies that can be used to enhance the learning experience. Technology, as referred to here, goes beyond the digital categories to include the wide range of tools used to teach. However, it typically refers to digital media tools in current usage.
Course activity is organized around scheduled class meetings. Traditional courses are measured by the number of hours spent in required class meetings or other traditional activities, such as laboratories, field trips, or internships. Such courses may involve some sort of technology usage, both digital and analog, but the course is still anchored to class meetings in a common physical space.
May include walk-in and call-in support for students, faculty, and staff, call centers, support for knowledge bases, self-help tools, or specialized support centers typically focused on technology tool issues.
A course in which part of the course is delivered online and part is delivered in face-to-face class meetings. Hybrid courses typically reduce the number of days of face-to-face class meetings (for example, from three to two meetings per week).
IT (Information Technology)
Computer hardware and software; voice, data, network, satellite and other telecommunications technologies; and multimedia and application development tools. These technologies are used for the input, storage, processing, and communication of information.
The uses and principles of learning, pedagogy, and content frameworks to create teaching materials and experiences for technology-enhanced courses. Recent interpretations of this process now focus primarily on the role and implementation considerations of on-line and digital tools.
Someone who uses the principles of learning, pedagogy, and content frameworks to create teaching materials and experiences for online courses. This is a professionally accredited field.
The materials that teachers use to teach and students use to learn (for example, printed text, digitized text, software, speech, images).
The application of educational technology in a formal learning environment.
LMS (Learning Management System)
The technology platform through which students access online courses. A LMS generally includes software for creating and editing course content, communication tools, assessment tools, and other features for managing the course typically an integrated suite of online resources and communications capabilities in support of traditional courses and can also serve as a platform for fully online courses. A typical LMS provides a range of activity modules, such as forums, databases, and wikis; facilitates student assignments and quizzes; and enables monitoring of student engagement and reporting of grades. Many LMS implementations are integrated with student information systems. See Course Management System.
Institutional system for audio/video capture of instructor lectures or other venue- or studio-based activities for later distribution via the Internet.
Typically a function that provides resources and support for media tools such as video conferencing, video capture, digital reproduction, and other media equipment.
MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)
A type of online course aimed at large-scale participation and open access via the web. MOOCs are a recent development in the area of distance education, and a progression of the kind of open education ideals suggested by open educational resources. MOOCs typically do not offer credits awarded to paying students at schools, but assessment of learning may be done for certification.
Encompasses interactive text, images, sound, and color. Multimedia can be anything from a simple PowerPoint slide slow to a complex interactive simulation.
Multimedia Production for Online Learning
Institutional capability to develop online learning materials or modules (typically consisting of audio, video, slides, interactive learning tools, and/or quizzes).
Support for design, production, and deployment of content in audio, still image, animation, video, and interactive formats, often in combination with text.
The program mixes traditional classroom courses with other formats that use a variety of different delivery modes, blended, hybrid, fully online courses, remote/distance, etc. These programs use a variety of technologies and course designs to provide a variety of learning experiences. Choice of technology can be related to the geographic or time needs of students as well as on curricular goals and instructional needs.
A course or activity having no credit applicable toward a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award.
All course activity is done online; there are no required face-to-face sessions within the course and no requirements for on-campus activity. Online courses totally eliminate geography as a factor in the relationship between the student and the institution. They consist entirely of online elements that facilitate the three critical student interactions: content acquisition and understanding, instructor interaction, and engagement with fellow students. Instructional technology, social media, and assessment services are developed and implemented to meet learning objectives.
Education in which instruction and content are delivered primarily over the Internet. The term does not include printed-based correspondence education, broadcast television or radio, videocassettes, and stand-alone educational software programs that do not have a significant Internet-based instructional component, often used interchangeably with Virtual learning, Cyber learning, e-learning.
Online Learning Resources
Any digital material used for supporting student learning that is delivered in multiple delivery models.
Online Learning Technology Services
Services that support the use of technology for online learning, or services that provide technology for online learning. Staff, hardware, software, etc. used to provide or support online learning technology.
All credits required to complete the program are offered as fully online courses. Students can complete the program completely at a distance, with no required face-to-face meetings. Fully online programs are designed with a broad, student-audience model in mind. Significant support services—registration, testing, advising, library support, etc.—should be provided for students who may participate at a distance or on differentiated schedules.
Remote/Distance, Face-to-Face Course
Video or web-based technologies are used to extend classroom lectures and discussions to students at remote sites in real time. These courses use web conferencing or other synchronous e-learning media to provide access to a classroom experience by students at off-campus locations while otherwise maintaining a traditional classroom structure. These courses may mix on-campus and remote students.
Self-Paced (Flex) Course
This model eliminates all class meetings and replaces them with a learning resource center featuring online materials and on-demand personalized assistance. This model gives students control over when they study. The purpose is to allow students to choose when they access course materials, to choose what types of learning materials they use depending on their needs, and to set their own pace in working with the materials. It assumes that students have access to appropriate instructional software and one-on-one on-site help. It replaces formal class meetings with increased access to instructional assistance and assesses completion based upon established competency standards.
Online learning in which the participants interact at the same time and in the same space.
Student Technology Centers
Facilities, equipment, services, and staff in support of student access to and use of the institution’s and other information, learning, and communications resources; includes public student lab support and specialized training and support for students.
A requirement by law, ADA Section 508, that learning materials, including interfaces, images, sounds, multimedia elements, and all other forms of information, must be made available for use by anyone, regardless of disability.
Universal Design for Instruction (UDI)
An approach to teaching that consists of the proactive design and use of inclusive instructional strategies that benefit a broad range of learners including students with disabilities. (UDI)
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
A framework for the design of online learning objects and environments ensuring accessibility for all users.
The measure of how effectively, efficiently, and easily a person can navigate an interface, find information on it, and achieve his or her goals.
UX (User Experience)
User experience design is a subset of the field of experience design that pertains to the creation of the architecture and interaction models that affect user experience of a device or system. The purpose of UX is to positively impact the overall experience a person has with a particular interactive system and its provider. User experience design frequently defines a sequence of interactions between a user and a system, virtual or physical, designed to meet or support user needs and goals.
- Alliance for Excellence in Online Education (A4EOE). Terms Pertaining to Online Learning.
- Association for Talent Development (ATD). Glossary.
- Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut (UDI). Universal Design for Instruction at UCONN: Glossary of Terms. 2009.
- Collins, John William, and Nancy P. O’Brien. The Greenwood Dictionary of Education. Cited in Weimer, Maryellen. “Defining Active Learning.” Faculty Focus. 2011.
- EDUCAUSE Core Data Service. Survey Glossary. 2014.
- Data Cookbook Community Definitions.
- International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). The Online Learning Definitions Project. 2011.
- Mayadas, Frank, and Gary E. Miller for the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). Definitions of E-Learning Courses and Programs, Version 1.1, Developed for Discussion within the Online Learning Community. 2014.
- National Center for Education Statistics. IPEDS Glossary.
- National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). NCATE Glossary. 2014.
- Sinclair, Brian. “The University Library as Incubator for Digital Scholarship.” EDUCAUSE Review. 2014.
- Wolfe, Lahle. “Digital Publishing Defined.” About: Women in Business. 2015.