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eLearning Glossary



A type of technology that allows people with disabilities ranging from visual problems to cognitive impairments to use the Internet.

Adobe Acrobat Reader®

Adobe Acrobat Reader is free software that lets you view and print Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files on all major computer platforms, as well as fill in and submit Adobe PDF forms online. For online classes, you will use Adobe Acrobat Reader to download different types of text available on reserves or over the web. An expanded version of Acrobat Reader for Windows offers additional features, including support for the visually impaired, the ability to search collections of Adobe PDF files, and the ability to display Adobe Photoshop® Album Slideshows and eCard.

AIM (or AOL Instant Message)

A program designed by America Online (AOL) that is used to chat back and forth to users who have an AIM account.


A program or group of programs designed for end users .Software can be divided into two general classes: systems software and applications software . Systems software consists of low-level programs that interact with the computer at a very basic level. This includes operating systems, compilers , and utilities for managing computer resources . In contrast, applications software (also called end-user programs ) includes database programs, word processors , and spreadsheets . Figuratively speaking, applications software sits on top of systems software because it is unable to run without the operating system and system utilities.


An applet is a small Java program that is embedded into an HTML page. The applet is not allowed access to certain resources on the computer such as files and drives and the applet is prohibited from communicating across networks.


A file attached to an e-mail message. Many e-mail systems only support sending text files as e-mail. If the attachment is a binary file or formatted text file (such as an MS-Word document), it must be encoded before it is sent and decoded once it is received. There are a number of encoding schemes, the two most prevalent being Unicode and MIME.



Defined as the amount of information that can move through a connection in a given amount of time. It is usually measured in bits per second.

Blackboard (Vista, WebCT)

Used for course management and login / authentication for many online courses.

Bookmark (Favorite)

A link that is stored in a browser for quick access at a later time.


Is an acronym for bits per second. Bps is a common speed rating given to dial up modems, but also applies to cable and DSL modems. More technically, it is the amount of bits of data it can send and recieve per second.

Broadband Internet Connection

(i.e. Fast Access, Road Runner, DSL, T1 or T3 line, Internet access via cable modem) fast access ISP computer accounts; recommended for UNCG / DCL online courses. With such a service, pages load faster, videos download faster, and the Internet experience is greatly improved.


Short for web browser, a software application used to locate and display web pages. The two most popular browsers are Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer . Both of these are graphical browsers, which means that they can display graphics as well as text . In addition, most modern browsers can present multimedia information, including sound and video , though they require plug-ins for some formats.


Is an acronym used in online environments that means “by the way”.


Cable modem

Is a device that accepts a coaxial cable connection from the outside. It allows for high speed Internet connection with download speeds of up to 20 Mbps (theoretically) and upload speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps.


A method of typing in characters as either upper-case or lower-case in order to satisfy some requirement. For example, URLs are case-sensitive as are passwords.


  a discussion that occurs online when all users are logged in at the same time. It is also defined as a form of online communication.


  the setup of an individual computer which consists of hardware and software.


  A cookie is a piece of information that is stored on a user’s hard drive that is used by web servers to personalize your online experience. Cookies usually store your registration information from various web sites and is commonly used in the online marketplace to save your preferences.

Course Content Area

  Usually “pops-up” from Blackboard; area where all primary course documents can be found.


  See graphical user interface.


  Is a term used to describe the range of sources that exists on the Internet.


Dial-up access

  (i.e. 28.8 Kbps, 56 Kbps, phone access) is a simple phone line connection to the Internet. With such a service, pages load slowly, videos and audio take a long time to download, and the Internet experience is sluggish and difficult to navigate. Because dial-up Internet connections (modem connections)are typically slow, they are not recommended for online courses.

Directory (Web)

  A listing of major categories in hierarchical order. It is different from a search engine in that it lets you browse through categories instead of searching using keywords.

Discussion Forum

  (a.k.a. forum, discussion board) is an online service that allows registered users to post questions and responses to other posted questions, . Online services and bulletin board services (BBS’s) provide a variety of forums, in which participants with common interests can exchange open messages. Forums are sometimes called newsgroups (in the Internet world) or conferences.

Distance Education

  An educational situation where students and teachers are separated by time and distance. The common link between them is the Internet.


  Is the transfer of data from a remote location to a local computer. When viewing a website, there is usually a link provided for downloading various files. Simply click on the link to begin the transfer. Usually, when you download a prompt will appear giving you the option of where to store the data. Some options include your hard drive, different removable disk drives, or even particular folders on your computer.

DSL (and ADSL)

  DSL is an acronym for Digital Subscriber Line. It is used for high speed Internet access through a digital connection directly to the telephone company. ADSL is similar it stands for Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line. ADSL allows for download speeds of 1.544 Mbps (Mbps stands for megabits per second, not to be confused with MB which means megabytes) and upload speeds of 128 kilobits per second.



  Messages containing text, sometimes images and html code that is sent from one person to another via a computer. E-mail can also be sent to a large number of people at one time automatically.


  Is a common networking standard. It is a method used to allow computers to communicate to one another over a specific medium, whether it be a cable, wireless, or fiber optic transmission.


F2F (face-to-face)

  F2F is a term used to describe the traditional classroom setting.


  Is an acronym that stands for “frequently asked questions”. FAQs are basically a list of questions that users ask often which provide a means of finding the answer quickly.


  Is a combination of hardware and software that protects the network from invasions from outside of the network. The firewall typically looks at the incoming and outgoing connections and port addresses and decides to let the traffic through or not by referring to a table built up by a system administrator.


  Flash is a small program that plugs in to your browser allowing for media-rich interaction, animation, sound, and video integration over the Web. You will need FLASH 6 FOR ONLINE COURSES. Most common Web plug-in; 98% of browsers already have installed; used to provide media-rich content for courses (see eLearning Checklist for Browser Plug-ins)


  (v.) 1. To prepare a storage medium , usually a disk , for reading and writing . When you format a disk, the operating system erases all bookkeeping information on the disk, tests the disk to make sure all sectors are reliable, marks bad sectors (that is, those that are scratched), and creates internal address tables that it later uses to locate information. You must format a disk before you can use it. Note that reformatting a disk does not erase the data on the disk, only the address tables. Do not panic, therefore, if you accidentally reformat a disk that has useful data. A computer specialist should be able to recover most, if not all, of the information on the disk. You can also buy programs that enable you to recover a disk yourself. 2. To specify the properties, particularly visible properties, of an object . For example, word processing applications allow you to format text , which involves specifying the font ,alignment ,margins , and other properties.
  (n.) A specific pre-established arrangement or organization of data. Data in a file is stored in a format that is established by whatever application created the file (i.e., organized the data) and typically needs to be read by the same or similar program that can interpret the format and present the data to the user on the computer screen. (see Sect. 2- Summary of File Formats).


  Is an acronym that stands for “file transfer protocol”. It is this protocol that allows for downloads and uploads to occur over the Internet. For example, you can use FTP to transfer files from a remote location to your desktop at home.


GIF (Graphic Interchange Format)

  Another common format for images containing the same colors. GIF format does not store photographic images as well as JPEG format.

Gigabyte (GB)

  A gigabyte is 1,024 megabytes.

Graphical user interface

  Abbreviated GUI (pronounced GOO-ee ). A program interface that takes advantage of the computer’s graphics capabilities to make the program easier to use. Well-designed graphical user interfaces can free the user from learning complex command languages . On the other hand, many users find that they work more effectively with a command-driven interface, especially if they already know the command language. Graphical user interfaces, such as Microsoft Windows and the one used by the Apple Macintosh , feature the following basic components:

      * pointer: a symbol that appears on the display screen and that you move to select objects and commands . Usually, the pointer appears as a small angled arrow. Text -processing applications, however, use an I-beam pointer that is shaped like a capital I.
      * pointing device: A device , such as a mouse or trackball , that enables you to select objects on the display screen.
      * icons: Small pictures that represent commands, files , or windows . By moving the pointer to the icon and pressing a mouse button , you can execute a command or convert the icon into a window. You can also move the icons around the display screen as if they were real objects on your desk.
      * desktop: The area on the display screen where icons are grouped is often referred to as the desktop because the icons are intended to represent real objects on a real desktop.
      * windows: You can divide the screen into different areas. In each window, you can run a different program or display a different file. You can move windows around the display screen, and change their shape and size at will.
      * menus: Most graphical user interfaces let you execute commands by selecting a choice from a menu.


Hertz (Hz)

  Is defined as cycles per second. For example, a radio station broadcasting at 93.1 MHz is broadcasting radio waves at 93.1 million cycles per second.


  Short for Hyper Text Markup Language, the authoring language used to create documents on the World Wide Web. HTML is similar to SGML, although it is not a strict subset. HTML defines the structure and layout of a Web document by using a variety of tags and attributes. There are hundreds of other tags used to format and layout the information in a Web page. Tags are also used to specify hypertext links. These allow Web developers to direct users to other Web pages with only a click of the mouse on either an image or word(s).


  An element in an electronic document that links to another place in the same document or to an entirely different document. Typically, you click on the hyperlink to follow the link. Hyperlinks are the most essential ingredient of all hypertext systems, including the World Wide Web.


  A special type of database system , in which objects (text , pictures, music, programs) can be creatively linked to each other. When you select an object, you can see all the other objects that are linked to it. You can move from one object to another even though they might have very different forms. For example, while reading a document about Mozart, you might click on the phrase Violin Concerto in A Major, which could display the written score or perhaps even invoke a recording of the concerto. Clicking on the name Mozart might cause various illustrations of Mozart to appear on the screen. The icons that you select to view associated objects are called Hyperlinks or buttons.



  Is a collection of interconnected computers that deliver information through TCP/IP protocols that evolved back in the late 1960s and 1970s. The Internet was originally developed for the United States Department of Defense.

Instant Message (IM)

  Like a chat room, IM is used to send messages back and forth through the Internet to a specific user. It is like a chat room in the way that you can communicate, but unlike a chat room unless in a private chat the information that is being typed is sent directly to the user and is not viewed by anyone else.

IRC (Internet Relay Chat)

  Is basically a large multi-user live chat room. Anything that is typed is broadcasted to all listening on the same “channel”. You can however create private chat sessions which is commonly done.


JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

  JPEG is the most common format for images that are displayed over the Internet. The JPEG format allows for compression of the image to make it into a smaller more usable format.


Kilobyte (KB)

  A Kilobyte is 1,024 bytes. A byte is defined as 8 bits and a bit is a single piece of information in binary code either a 1 or a 0.


LAN (Local Area Network)

  A network acronym used to describe computers hooked together by a ethernet cable to share information with each other.


  Basically it is an object that sends out a mass email to everyone who is enrolled on the list.


  A way for you to type your username and password to gain access to restricted information or websites. A login is also a security measure for computer networks. A login ensures administrators that only authorized individuals are gaining access to network resources.


  Is an acronym used in online environments that means “laugh out loud”.


Megabyte (MB)

  A Megabyte is 1,024 Kilobytes.

Megahertz (MHz)

  Is defined as 1,000,000 hertz (Hz) or 1,000 kilohertz.

Metasearch engine

  Is a search engine that queries other search engines and then combines the all the results received . In effect, the user is not using just one search engine, but a combination of many search engines at once, to optimize Web searching. (see Sect. 2-Internet Research/Essential Search Engines ).

Microsoft Office applications

  Microsoft Word, word processing software used to enter, manipulate, and store text. Microsoft Power Point is a form of presentation software. This software is used to prepare information for multimedia presentations.Excel is spreadsheet software. This software permits work in rows and columns.


  This means to make an exact copy of something. A common usage of a mirror is to have a site that stores a listing of statistics of a game and other sites mirror this site. This decreases the load on the main site by having mirror sites that can divide the bandwidth between them.

Modem speed

  Refers to the amount of data (measured in bits per second) being sent or received by your computer. A typical dial-up service has a rate between 28.8 K bps to 56 K bps (kilobits per second, or thousands of bits per second).


  The interactive use of text, graphics and colors to display a concept. It could be a PowerPoint slide show or a complex interactive animation.



  Netscape is a web browser that was originally based on a program called Mosaic. Netscape is also the name of the company.


Operating system

  The most important program that runs on a computer . Every general-purpose computer must have an operating system to run other programs. Operating systems perform basic tasks, such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files and directories on the disk , and controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers. Think of it as a secretary between you and your computer.
  Operating systems provide a software platform on top of which other programs, called application programs, can run. The application programs must be written to run on top of a particular operating system. For PCs , the most popular operating systems are DOS, OS/2 , and Windows, but others are available, such as Linux .



  Adobe Portable Document Format File (see Sect. 2-File Formats Summary)


  Are software applications that add a specific feature or service for a variety of media uses. Web plug-ins , such as Flash, allow the transfer, viewing, and interaction with websites, downloaded movies, sound, online databases and more.For example, there are number of plug-ins for the Netscape Navigator browser that enable it to display different types of audio or video messages. Navigator plug-ins are based on MIME file types. See Browser plug-in directory, Section X)

Pop-up window

  A window that suddenly appears (pops up) when you select an option with a mouse or press a special function key . Usually, the pop-up window contains a menu of commands and stays on the screen only until you select one of the commands. It then disappears.
  Also, a type of window that appears over the browser window of a Web site when visited by a user. In contrast to a pop-under ad , which appears behind the browser window. A pop-up is more obtrusive as it covers other windows, particularly the window that the user is trying to read. Pop-ups ads are used extensively in advertising on the Web, though advertising is not the only application for pop-up windows . These should be turned off when using UNCG / DCL online courses. You can do this by going into “preferences” in your web browser.
  A special kind of pop-up window is a pull-down menu, which appears just below the item you selected, as if you had pulled it down.

POP (Post Office Protocol)

  Refers to the way that an email client recieves mail from an email server. When you sign up with an ISP you will get a POP email account. IMAP which is another protocol is slowly overcoming POP.


  A marketing term used to describe a website that is intended to be the first place people see when accessing the web. A typical portal site has a hiearchy of websites and a search engine.



  Is a multimedia development, storage, and playback technology from Apple. Quicktime files combine sound, text, animation, and video in a single file. Quicktime files can be recognized by their file name extensions: qt, mov, and moov. Also used to play MPEG files. (see Sect. 2-Plug-in Directory/Multi-Media Plug-ins).


RAM (Random Access Memory)

  Is the place in a computer where the operating system, application programs, and data in current use are kept so that they can be quickly reached by the computer’s processor. RAM is much faster to read from and write to than the other kinds of storage in a computer: the hard disk, floppy disk, and CD-ROM. However, the data in RAM stays there only as long as your computer is running. When you turn the computer off, RAM loses its data. When you turn your computer on again, your operating system and other files are once again loaded into RAM, usually from your hard disk.
RAM can be compared to a person’s short-term memory and the hard disk to the long-term memory. The short-term memory focuses on work at hand, but can only keep so many facts in view at one time. If short-term memory fills up, your brain sometimes is able to refresh it from facts stored in long-term memory. A computer also works this way. If RAM fills up, the processor needs to continually go to the hard disk to overlay old data in RAM with new, slowing down the computer’s operation. Unlike the hard disk which can become completely full of data so that it won’t accept any more, RAM never runs out of memory. It keeps operating, but much more slowly than you may want it to.


  Is a continuous or streaming sound technology from Progressive Networks’ RealAudio. A RealAudio player or client program may come included with a Web browser or can be downloaded. (see Sect. 2-Browser Plug-ins)


  A piece of hardware that accepts physical connections from other networks or computers that routes information (or packets) to the intended location.



  Is a web browser developed by Apple MacIntosh.

Search Engine

  Is a searchable database or index, containing thousands or millions of Web sites, pages or documents. It allows the user to search by entering keyword(s) or phrases, then executes the search in its database to find matches to the query. Or, the user can select a subject heading, and do a search within that category. Once the SEARCH button is clicked, a list of search results or hits are then provided. (see also metasearch engines).


  A server basically waits in a never ending loop to send information to a client that requests it. There are different types of servers, File servers, Application servers, MP3 servers, Video servers, E-mail servers, each with there own specific task.


  Shockwave player is the web standard for multimedia playback over the Internet. It allows the user to view interactive 3D content, entertainment and online learning material.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)

  It is the main protocol used to send mail from server to server over the Internet.


  An inappropriate attempt to use a mailing list to send out an email that a user did not request.

SSL (Secure Socket Layer)

  A protocol designed by Netscape Corporation to enable encrypted data to be authenticated and sent over the Internet.


TCP/IP (Transfer Control Protocol / Internet Protocol)

  A suite of protocols that define the Internet. The standard for communicating across the Internet and Wide Area networks, originally designed for Unix operating system. The suite is now included with virtually every operating system.



  Is the transfer of data from your local computer to a remote location (computer, server ,etc.).


  Stands for Uniform Resource Locator which is nothing more than an address for a particular resource that is available on the Internet. For example, http://www.uncg.edu is an example of a URL.


  Is short for Universal Serial Bus, an external bus standard that supports data transfer rates of 12 Mbps . A single USB port can be used to connect up to 127 peripheral devices , such as mice ,modems , and keyboards . USB also supports Plug-and-Play installation and hot plugging .



  A malicious piece of code that runs on a users computer that controls various systems on the machine and sometimes can make the machine inoperable and compromises the security of the machine.



  See graphical user interface.


  A wireless feature that is available on Palm Pilots and Pocket PCs that allow wireless communication between the device and a network.

Wireless Access Point (WAP)

  Is a device that hooks into an existing network that recieves signals from other wireless devices to gain access to a network or to go out onto the Internet. A WAP may also act as a bridge to extend the range of a wireless network.


  a virus-like program that propagates through the Internet and E-mail and has the capability of being very destructive to the computers that are infected.

World Wide Web (Web)

  WWW for short, it is defined as collection of resources that can be accessed using FTP, HTTP, Telnet and others. Also the term WWW refers to the collection of computers or more commonly called web servers that are interconnected together.



  Acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle” containing thousands of computers linked to the Internet.