ION | Illinois Online Network

Glossary of Terms

Acronym
Literally, an acronym is a word formed by the initial letters of a phrase or title. In the online environment, acronyms are used to conserve time and space in an electronic message as well as to express humor. Examples of commonly used acronyms are: ASAP (as soon as possible), and FYI (for your information). for a comprehensive list of acronyms to use online, follow this link: http://www.chatlist.com/newcfdocs/searchacro.cfm

Asynchronous Communication
Online discussions occurring independent of time or location. Participants send messages to a central location (discussion forum) where they are archived for later retrieval from other participants. An example of asynchronous communication is email.

Collaborative/Cooperative Learning
The process of getting two or more students to work together to learn. Sometimes a distinction is made between the two terms based on the age of the learners: cooperative for K-12 education and collaborative learning for adult education, and some practitioners contend that there are important differences between the two based on the unique pedagogical needs of each corresponding age group. However, the terms are often used interchangeably.

Emoticon
Also known as smilies, they are keyboard characters used in combination to produce whimsical symbols representing a range of emotions. Examples are happy :-)  and sad  :-( . Emoticons are used in electronic communication to show humor and express emotions that are difficult to communicate in a text-based environment. For a comprehensive list of emoticons, follow this link: http://www.chatlist.com/faces.html

F2F
Face-to-face. This term is used to describe the traditional classroom environment.

Facilitative Tools
Electronic applications used in online courses as part of the course delivery. Examples are mailing lists, chat programs, streaming audio, streaming video, Web pages, etc. A successful online course will contain a combination of these tools, but it is neither necessary nor desirable to use all of them. Facilitative tools should be selected according to their added value to the course material and whether they are useful in achieving the learning outcomes of the course.

Facilitator
The online course instructor is often referred to as the course facilitator. Online instructors do not retain their traditional "teacher-centered" roles from the onground paradigm. Instead, they become the medium through which discovery learning   is facilitated in a student-centered environment.

Lurking
A person is lurking when he/she reads the postings in a discussion forum but does not contribute to the discussion. It is important for an online instructor to be somewhat accepting of lurkers since students have different learning styles and some learn better by listening. However, it is also important to encourage lurkers to become active participants in order for them to take full advantage of the online paradigm.

Netiquette
People navigating in a virtual environment must follow proper protocols and have good online "manners"  generally known as netiquette, or etiquette on the Net.

Onground Environment
This term is used to describe the traditional classroom environment, also known as face-to-face.

Online Environment
Courses, discussions, or other communication occurring in an electronic format via the Internet.

Private Communication
Refers to electronic communication (email) sent to one or more individuals to their personal email mailboxes as opposed to a public conferencing forum.

Public Communication
Refers to electronic communication sent to a public conferencing forum, listserv, mailing list etc. where one message is distributed to all list members.

Real Time Communication
Communication occurring at the moment messages are generated. Real Time is a characteristic of synchronous communication.

Seamless Technology
In an online course, technology is said to be seamless (or transparent) when it is easy to use, intuitive in nature, and is NOT the focus of the learning experience. If programs are difficult to use and the system has frequent breakdowns, the technology is not seamless and hinders the learning process. Technology should merely be a means to deliver course content, facilitating the learning process

Synchronous Communication
Online discussions occurring independent of location, but at the same time (real time). Participants must agree on a time to log into the discussion forum and messages are received at the moment they are sent. This form of electronic communication is also called "chatting," and can include audio and/or video.

Synergy
The dynamic energetic atmosphere created in an online class when participants interact and productively communicate with each other and in groups. The cooperative efforts of the participants create an enhanced combined effect compared to the sum of their individual effects. This atmosphere is highly conducive to learning.

Transparent Technology
In an online course, technology is said to be  transparent (or seamless) when it is easy to use, intuitive in nature, and is NOT the focus of the learning experience. If programs are difficult to use and the system has frequent breakdowns, the technology is not seamless and hinders the learning process. Technology should merely be a means to deliver course content, facilitating the learning process

24/7
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This term is often used to describe the hours of operation of the Virtual Classroom ™, or how often technical support should be available for online students and teachers.

Virtual Classroom™ (VC)
An online discussion forum where most of the conversations relating to the coursework take place (either synchronously or asynchronously). The VC is usually physically a folder in a conferencing system where students and professor post their messages. It is a public forum in the sense that all participants can read and respond to any message posted to the VC.

Virtual Professor™ (VP)
The facilitator or instructor of an online course.