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Glossary of Terms

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DL 101: Distance Learning Glossary (Austin Community College)



  • Affective domain:
  • Announcements: Feature of course management systems in which messages to inform students about course events and changes are posted and read asynchronously by students.
  • Artifact:
  • Asynchronous learning: "Learning in which interactions between students and teacher occur in different times and locations" (McGee, Carmean, & Jafari, 2006)


  • Behaviorism:
  • Blog



  • Chat: Feature allows CMS users to communicate synchronously with other users in the course, usually through typed messages that appear on all chat room participants' monitors (Austin Community College, 2006).
  • Cognitive domain:
  • Cognitivism: 
  • Communication channels:  A communication channel is defined as the means by which knowledge of innovations travels throughout the social system (Rogers, 2003). This can be by making use of mass media to broadcast the knowledge from a central point to many potential adopters or simply through the passing of knowledge from one individuals to the next. The channel can take the form of formal communications such as advertising, training, or organizational directives or informal methods such as personal contact, individual example, or social conversations.
  • Connectivism:
  • Constructivism:
  • Copyright:
  • Course Management Systems: "A CMS is Internet-based software that manages student enrollment, tracks student performance, and creates and distributes course content. In this way, the CMS enables teachers to extend the classroom beyond its traditional boundaries of time and space" (Ullman & Rabinowitz, 2004).



  • Digital Immigrant: Digital Immigrants are individuals who did not grow up with technology and adopted it later--much as an immigrant to a new land must learn a new language, new customs, etc.

  • Digital Native: Digital Natives is a term applied to students who have spent their lives learning with computers, listening to music on iPods, playing video games, and networking or socializing on cell phones or with instant messaging (Prensky, 2001)

  • Diffusion: "Diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system" (Rogers, 2003, p. 35). 

  • Discussion Boards/Forums: "A discussion board is a tool that allows groups to communicate online. A discussion board consists of 'threads' and 'messages.' A thread is a series of messages on a particular topic, and each message is an individual contribution to a conversation.... Participants can reply to threads that have already been posted or post new threads in the forum" (Austin Community College, 2006).
  • Distance Education: "The acquisition of knowledge and skills through mediated information and instruction, encompassing all technologies and other forms of learning at a distance" (United States Distance Learning Association, n.d.).

  • Digital Drop Box: Feature of a CMS which allows "learners [to] submit assignments directly to the instructor within the CMS" (McGee, Carmean, & Jafari, 2006)



  • Hybrid/blended learning: In these courses the instructor combines elements of online distance-learning courses and face-to-face delivery. A substantial proportion of the content (30-79%) is delivered online, usually online discussions, and typically has a reduced number of face-to-face meetings (Allen & Seaman, 2008).



  • Innovation: Rogers defined innovation as "anything perceived as new by an individual or group" (2003, p. 11).  Hall and Hord (1987) explained that innovations related to education can either be products (computers, multimedia presentations, assessment techniques) or processes (student-centered learning, asynchronous communication, or principles of self-esteem in character education).
  • Innovation-Decision Process: The innovation-decision process includes the following phases: knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation. According to Rogers's model, potential adopters of an innovation (a) learn about the innovation, (b) are persuaded as to the merits of the innovation, (c) decide to adopt the innovation, (d) implement the innovation, and (e) confirm (reaffirm or reject) the decision to adopt the innovation (Rogers, 2003).
  • Instructional Materials:
  • Instructional Strategies (methods):
  • Instructional Technology (educational technology):
  • Interpersonal Domain:



  • Learning:
  • Learning Management System: Similar to course management systems, LMS refers to software that primarily acts as an electronic registrar by electronically performing various enrollment and related tasks (Carliner, 2005). LMS and CMS are often used interchangeably.
  • Learning Objects: According to Merrill (2000), learning objects include any digital resource that can be reused to support learning. McGreal & Roberts (2001) broaden the definition, defining a learning object as “any entity, digital or non-digital, which can be used, reused or referenced during technology-supported learning.”



  • Media
  • Media format
  • Motor Skill Domain:



  • Net Gen (Millenials, Generation Y)



  • Online course: A course where most or all of the content is delivered online. Typically, there are no requirements for face-to-face meetings between students and instructor, either in the classroom or via video during the course (Allen & Seaman, 2008).
  • Organizational Support: Organizational support concerns institutional support for training and the use of technology, the level of college funds and availability of technological materials and staff development programs for the use of technology and the CMS (Kelly, 2005). Organizational support also relates to institutional policies and procedures that encourage the use of technology and the CMS.



  • Podcast
  • Portfolio:
  • Professional Development: "An ongoing effort to improve, upgrade or impart skills to the faculty in the use of technology. Included in this effort are workshops, information sessions, just in time support by phone, e-mail, or in person" (Guskey, 2000, cited in Kelly, 2005).



  • RSS



  • Social Network
  • Social System: A social system is defined as the set of interrelated units with a common goal (such as an educational institution) and structure. The social system includes (a) norms, its sets of behavior patterns, (b) opinion leadership, the degree an individual is able to informally influence others, (c)  change agents, individuals who attempt to influence others innovation-decisions, (d) change agency/agencies, a unit or units whose purpose is to use change agents, and (e)  aides, individuals used by change agents to intensively interact with the clients (Rogers, 2003).
  • Synchronous communication: "A two-way communication between a workgroup requiring members of the workgroup to respond at the same time" (Lawrence, 2007)



  • Technology
  • Technology integration: According to the International Society for Technology in Education's National  Educational Technology Standards for Students, "Effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally. The technology should become an integral part of how the classroom functions-as accessible as all other classroom tools" (Ogle, Branch, Canada, Christmas, Fillion, Goddard, et al., n.d., para. 2)
  • Thematic Instruction:
  • Traditional Courses: Courses where no online technology is used. All content is delivered in writing or orally (Allen & Seaman, 2008). These are often referred to as face-to-face or f2f courses.



  • Vodcast



  • Web 2.0

  • Web-facilitated (web-enhanced) course: Course that uses web-based technology to facilitate what is essentially a face-to-face course (1-29% online). Instructors may use a course management system (CMS) or web pages to post the syllabus and assignments (Allen & Seaman, 2008). 

  • WebQuest: A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. Students typically complete a webquest in cooperative groups. Webquests were invented by Bernie Dodge and Tom March at San Diego State University in 1995.

  • Wiki


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