ION | Illinois Online Network

Online Learning Glossary of Terms

Acronym

A word (or a commonly pronounceable letter combination) formed by the initial letters of a phrase or title. In the online environment, people use acronyms to conserve time and space in an electronic message as well as to express humor. Examples are ASAP (as soon as possible), and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Not to be confused with abbreviations that are just shorter forms of expressing words or thoughts or initialisms, common shorthand for phrases such as FYI (for your information) or IDK (I don't know.)

Asynchronous Communication

Online discussions occurring independent of time or location. Participants send messages to a central location (discussion forum) for later retrieval by other participants. Examples of asynchronous communication are email and web-based discussion forums. While people can hold a real-time conversation by email or web forum, the media tolerate long delays or one-sided messages. (See synchronous communication below)

Collaborative/Cooperative Learning

Two or more students working together to learn. Some distinguish between the two terms based on the age of the learners: cooperative for K-12 education and collaborative learning for adult education. They contend that the differences between the two terms are based on the unique teaching/learning 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 :-(. Some use emoticons in electronic communication to show humor and express subtleties that are difficult to communicate in a text-based environment.

F2F

Face-to-face. 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 the value they add to the course and whether they achieve the learning outcomes of the course.

Facilitator

We often call the online course instructor the facilitator. Online instructors do not retain their traditional "teacher-centered" role from the on-ground paradigm. Instead, they become a guide through whom students learn through discovery in a student-centered environment.

Learning Management System

A collection of software applications, usually bundled as an integrated package, that provide the various functions commonly required for the effective conduct of online learning. An LMS often includes internal messaging, web-page and media presentation, a grade book, real time web conferencing, and a mechanism for submitting assignments or transfering files. Also known as Online Learning Environment or Course Management System. (not to be confused with Content Management System)

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. The term was first posted to a forum in 1982, the same year the word ‘internet’ was first used. (Chiles, 2015)

On-ground Environment

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 message (email) sent to one or more individuals to their personal email mailboxes or messaging address, as opposed to a public conferencing forum.

Public Communication

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

Real Time Communication

Communication occurring (essentially) at the moment messages are generated. Real Time is a characteristic of synchronous communication. The contrast is with asynchronous 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. In most cases, technology should 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). The moderator sets the time and participants log into or observe the discussion. Messages are received (essentially) at the moment they are sent. This form of electronic communication is also called "chatting," and can include audio and/or video, or any number of social media formats. If one is not party to the conversation at the time it is held, all that remains is to read or hear the conversation held in the past.

Synergy

The dynamic atmosphere created in a class when participants interact and productively communicate with each other. The cooperative efforts of the participants create an enhanced 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 per day, seven days per week. (Implies 365 days per year) The hours of operation of the online classroom. Ideally, this also describes the technical support available for online students and teachers.

Virtual Classroom

The online location of the content, discussion forums, gradebook, rosters, and any other activities for a course (either synchronously or asynchronously). See course management system.

Virtual Professor

The facilitator or instructor of an online course.