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Online Learning From A to Z

Online learning is an increasingly popular alternative to earning a degree in a traditional classroom setting. With this relatively new form of education comes unique vocabulary students should know before enrolling in online classes. Here are some terms you should know.

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By Douglas J. Fehlen

online learning glossary a to z terminology Internet courses classes college

Accreditation

Accreditation refers to the official recognition that a learning institution meets a high standard of quality. It's important for a student to ensure that an online school is properly accredited before enrolling in classes.

Asynchronous Learning

This form of learning features interaction that is delayed (vs. real-time communication), which gives learners the opportunity to complete coursework on their own schedules. Email and message boards are featured aspects of this type of learning.

Computer-Based Training (CBT)

Computer-based training indicates instruction not carried out by a real instructor, but by a computer program. This form of education can be provided via CD-ROMs, software and Internet applications.

E-Learning 2.0

This term refers to online learning that incorporates use of Web 2.0 tools - programs, applications and websites that facilitate information sharing and collaboration. Class wikis, blogs and social networking sites are examples of these tools.

Hybrid Learning

Hybrid learning indicates educational programming that allows students to participate in classes that incorporate both online instruction and face-to-face experiences in a traditional classroom. This form of education may also be called blended learning.

Learning Management System (LMS)

A learning management system is an application used to facilitate online courses. Instructors use these programs to design educational experiences and allow students to collaborate with one another. Popular programs like Blackboard and HotChalk often feature interactive exercises, classroom wikis and progress monitoring tools.

online learning glossary a to z terminology Internet courses classes college

Online Learning

This generic term refers to any kind of learning that is facilitated by the Internet and other forms of technological innovation. Unlike hybrid learning, the term generally refers strictly to coursework offered online.

Self-Paced Learning

Self-paced learning indicates academic activities that are not led by a live instructor. Instead, instruction is delivered via a CD-ROM or computer program that gives students the opportunity to work at their own speed.

Synchronous Learning

This form of learning features real-time educational experiences in which an instructor at a remote location teaches students in a 'virtual classroom.' In this setting, students often engage in live interaction with peers and instructors.

Teleconferencing

This term simply refers to any kind of live interaction that takes place through the use of telecommunication tools - such as the Internet. A vital aspect of synchronous learning, this form of communication can include audio and video conferences.

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

This general term refers to any online 'space' in which students learn and collaborate with one another. Typical aspects of a virtual learning environment are live instruction, threaded discussions and collaborative projects.

Zip File

This technical term refers to a type of compressed computer file that can be easily transferred from one virtual location to another. For example, students engaged in online learning often must download coursework via zip files found on school websites.

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