Skip Navigation

Ed Technology Glossary of TermsEd Technology Glossary of Terms

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Z

top of pageA

Asynchronous learning
Learning in which interaction between instructors and students occurs intermittently with a time delay. Examples are self-paced courses taken via the Internet or CD-ROM, Q&A mentoring, online discussion groups, and e-mail.

top of pageB

Blog (web log)
A web page that serves as a publicly accessible personal journal for an individual. Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author.

A short-range radio technology aimed at simplifying communications among internet devices and between devices and the Internet.

A type of data transmission in which a single medium (wire) can carry several channels at once. Cable TV, for example, uses broadband transmission. Broadband technology can transmit data, audio, and video all at once over long distances.

To simultaneously send the same message to multiple recipients. Broadcasting is a useful feature in e-mail systems.

top of pageC

CD-ROM (Compact Disc Read-Only Memory or Compact Disc Read-Only Media)
A computer storage medium similar to the audio CD that can hold more than 600 megabytes of read-only digital information.


Compressed video
Video signals compressed in order to reduce the bandwidth needed for transmission. Some information is sacrificed in the process, which may result in lower quality.

Reducing the amount of data units required to represent information, necessary especially when transmitting video. Decompression reverses the result of compression.

Information captured digitally and imparted to learners. Formats for e-learning content include text, audio, video, animation, simulation, and more.

A message given by a web server to a web browser, which stores the message in a text file. The message is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server. The main purpose of cookies is to identify users and possibly prepare customized Web pages for them. Cookies can be disabled in the browser.

Course Management System (CMS)(aka Learning Management System — LMS)
Software that automates the administration of a class web site. These often include modules for online class discussions, grade books, homework turn-in and pickup, class calendars, and tools to make it easy to upload documents and link to electronic course reserves.

The nebulous "place" where humans interact over computer networks; term coined by William Gibson in Neuromancer.

top of pageD

The broadcasting of data over a wide area via radio waves. It most often refers to supplemental information sent by television stations along with digital television, but may also be applied to digital signals on analog TV or radio. It generally does not apply to data which is inherent to the medium, such as PSIP data which defines virtual channels for DTV or direct broadcast satellite systems; or to things like cable modem or satellite modem, which use a completely separate channel for data.

Datacasting often provides news, weather, traffic, stock market, and other information which may or may not relate to the program[s] it is carried with. It may also be interactive, such as gaming, shopping, or education. An electronic program guide is usually included, although this stretches the definition somewhat, as this is often considered inherent to the digital broadcast standard.

DHTML (Dynamic HTML)
Is the combination of HTML, style sheets and scripts that allows documents to be animated. Dynamic HTML allows a web page to change after it's loaded into the browser --there doesn't have to be any communication with the web server for an update.

Digital audio
Refers to the reproduction and transmission of sound stored in a digital format. This includes CDs as well as any sound files stored on a computer. In contrast, the telephone system (but not ISDN) is based on an analog representation of sound.

Digital editing
Editing a portion of a movie by digitizing one or more frames and altering them electronically or combining them with other digitized images, and then printing the modified frame.

Discussion boards
Forums on the Internet or an intranet where users can post messages for others to read.

DVD (Digital Video Disc)
Optical disks that are the same size as CDs but are double-sided and have larger storage capacities. DVDs can hold several gigabytes on a single disc. Most CDs by contrast can only hold 600 megabytes each.

DVI (Digital Visual Interface)
A digital interface standard created by the Digital Display Working Group (DDWG) to convert analog signals into digital signals to accommodate both analog and digital monitors.

top of pageE

E-learning (electronic learning)
Term covering a wide set of applications and processes, such as web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. It includes the delivery of content via Internet, intranet/extranet (LAN/WAN), audio- and videotape, satellite broadcast, interactive TV, CD-ROM, and more.

The process of compressing a media file for a specific purpose, such as streaming on the web. One can encode a file that is in analog form (such as a VHS tape) or one that is already digital (such as the signal on a Mini-DV tape).

Encoding information using some specific algorithm in order to hide it. The original information can not be retrieved without using a matching decryption algorithm.

top of pageF

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
The protocol used on the Internet for exchanging files. FTP is most commonly used to download a file from a server using the Internet or to upload a file to a server (e.g., uploading a web page file to a server).

File server
A computer on a network with the primary task of storing files that can be shared by network users.

A system designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network. Firewalls can be implemented in both hardware and software, or a combination of both. Firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorized internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet, especially intranets. All messages entering or leaving the intranet pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria.

Apple Computer's trademarked name for its high-speed serial bus supporting the IEEE 1394 data transfer standard. FireWire enables the connection of up to 63 devices and transfers data at a speed of up to 400 mbps.

top of pageG

GB (gigabyte )
Just over one billion bytes. 1,000 megabytes.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)
Pronounced jiff or giff (hard g), a file format commonly used for images on the Web. GIFs are especially suitable for images composed of relatively few colors, such as logos or vector graphics.

GUI (Graphical User Interface)
A computer interface using icons or pictures. For example, Windows.

top of pageH

HDTV (high-definition TV)
A television signal that has over five times the resolution of standard television and requires extraordinary bandwidth.

Home page
The main page of a web site. Typically, the home page serves as an index or table of contents to other documents stored at the site.


HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
The programming language used to create documents for display on the World Wide Web.

HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)
The set of rules and standards that govern how information is transmitted on the World Wide Web.

HTTP streaming
A form of streaming (popularized by QuickTime) in which media files begin to play before they are downloaded entirely. This means that they can be sent via HTTP and don't require specialized server software such as RealMedia files do. Also called Progressive Download.

A common connection point for devices in a network. Hubs are commonly used to connect segments of a local area network (LAN).

Information structured like hypertext, that also includes sound, images, animation or video.

A special type of database system, invented by Ted Nelson in the 1960s,in which objects (text, pictures, music, programs, and so on) can be creatively linked to each other

top of page 

IMS (Instructional Management System) Global Learning Consortium
Coalition of government organizations dedicated to defining and distributing open architecture interoperability specifications for e-learning products. See the IMS web site at

Information architecture
A description or design specification for how information should be treated and organized. In web design, the term describes the organization of online content into categories and the creation of an interface for displaying those categories.

The underlying mechanism or framework of a system. In e-learning, the infrastructure includes the means by which voice, video, and data can be transferred from one site to another and be processed.

Instant messaging (IM)
A type of communications service that enables you to create a kind of private chat room with another individual in order to communicate in real time over the Internet, analogous to a telephone conversation but using text-based, not voice-based, communication. Typically, the instant messaging system alerts you whenever somebody on your private list is online. You can then initiate a chat session with that particular individual.

Intellectual property
An idea, invention, formula, literary work, presentation, or other knowledge asset owned by an organization or individual. Intellectual property can be protected by patents, trademarks, service marks, and/or copyrights.

Interactive media
Allows for a two-way interaction or exchange of information.

An international network first used to connect education and research networks, begun by the US government. The Internet now provides communication and application services to an international base of businesses, consumers, educational institutions, governments, and research organizations.

IP (Internet Protocol)
IP is the basic language of the Internet. It was developed by the government for use in connecting multiple computer networks.

IP address
Abbreviation for Internet Protocol Address, the addressing system used in the Internet, assigning all connected devices a unique identification number.

ISP (Internet Service Provider)
A hosting company that provides end user access to such internet services as e-mail, the World Wide Web, FTP, newsgroups, and so forth.

IT (Information Technology)
The industry or discipline involving the collection, dissemination, and management of data, typically through the use of computers.

top of pageJ

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
Refers to an image file format popular for delivery over the Web because of its relatively high quality and low file size. Before uploading JPEGs to the Web, users can determine the amount of compression assigned to them-usually on a scale from 1 to 10. Recommended file type for photographic images.

Just-in-time (JIT)
Characteristic of e-learning in which learners are able to access the information they need exactly when they need it.

top of pageK

KB (kilobyte)
1,024 bytes.

top of pageL

Learning object
A reusable, media-independent collection of information used as a modular building block for e-learning content. Learning objects are most effective when organized by a meta data classification system and stored in a data repository such as an LCMS.  A learning object has been defined as: Any entity, digital or non-digital, that may be used for learning, education or training Any digital resource that can be reused to support learning Web-based interactive chunks of e-learning designed to explain a stand-alone learning objective" "A digitized entity which can be used, reused or referenced during technology supported learning."

Learning platforms
Internal or external sites often organized around tightly focused topics, which contain technologies (ranging from chat rooms to groupware) that enable users to submit and retrieve information.

Learning portal
Any web site that offers learners or organizations consolidated access to learning and training resources from multiple sources. Operators of learning portals are also called content aggregators, distributors, or hosts.

Learning solution

Link (aka hyperlink)
The result of HTML markup signifying to a browser that data within a document will automatically connect with either nested data or an outside source. Used in the design of hypertext.

E-mail list management software developed by L-Soft International.

top of pageM

MB (megabyte)
1,048,576 bytes, often generically applied to 1,000,000 bytes as well.

Mbps (megabits per second)
A measurement of data transmission speed in a communication system; the number of megabits transmitted or received each second.

Information about content that enables it to be stored in and retrieved from a database.  The simplest definition of metadata is that it is data about data. Metadata is information (data) about a particular content (data). An item of metadata may describe an individual datum (content item) or a collection of data (content items). Metadata is used to facilitate the understanding, use and management of data. The metadata required for this will vary with the type of data and context of use. So, in the context of a library, where the data is the content of the titles stocked, metadata about a title might typically include a description of the content, the author, the publication date and the physical location. In the context of a camera, where the data is the photographic image, metadata might typically include the date the photograph was taken and details of the camera settings. In the context of an information system, where the data is the content of the computer files, metadata about an individual data item might typically include the name of the field and its length. Metadata about a collection of data items, a computer file, might typically include the name of the file, the type of file and the name of the data administrator.

An HTML tag identifying the contents of a web site. Information commonly found in the metatag includes copyright info, key words for search engines, and formatting descriptions of the page.

A format for music file compression that enables users to download music over the Internet.

MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group)
A series of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards for digital video and audio, designed for different uses and data rates.

The transmission of information to more than one recipient. For example, sending an e-mail message to a list of people. Teleconferencing and videoconferencing can also use multicasting.

Encompasses interactive text, images, sound, and color. Multimedia can be anything from a simple PowerPoint slide slow to a complex interactive simulation.

top of pageN


Finding your way from page to page on the World Wide Web.

Online manners; the rules of conduct for online or internet users.

Netscape Navigator
Browser software that enables users to view web pages.

Two or more computers that are connected so users can share files and devices (for example, printers, servers, and storage devices).

NTSC (National Television System Committee)
The video input signal formats used in North America and Japan. Full-sized NTSC has a display rate of 60 fields per second (30 interlaced fps), and 525 total lines (480 visible) per frame.

top of pageO

The state in which a computer is connected to another computer or server via a network. A computer communicating with another computer.

Online community
A meeting place on the Internet for people who share common interests and needs. Online communities can be open to all or be limited to membership only and may or may not be moderated.

Online learning
Learning delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. See web-based training and internet-based training.

Operating system
A set of routines and programs that control a system's resources and provide access to its services, e.g. Windows XP, Athena (unix), Linux, Macintosh OS X.

Open source software

top of pageP

A bundle of data transmitted over a network. Packets have no set size; they can range from one character to hundreds of characters.

PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)
Handheld computer device used to organize personal information such as contacts, schedules, and so forth. Data can usually be transferred to a desktop computer by cable or wireless transmission.

PDF (Portable Document Format)
File format developed by Adobe Systems to enable users of any hardware or software platform to view documents exactly as they were created — with fonts, images, links, and layouts as they were originally designed.

Peer-to-peer network (P2P)
A communication network that enables users to connect their computers and share files directly with other users without having to go through a centralized server. Groove is an example of an application that runs on a peer-to-peer network.

Pixel (picture element)
Tiny dots that make up a computer image. The more pixels a computer monitor can display, the better the image resolution and quality. On a color monitor, every pixel is composed of a red, a green, and a blue dot that are small enough to appear as a single entity.

An accessory program that adds capabilities to the main program. Used on web pages to display multimedia content.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
The patent-free graphics compression format developed by Macromedia expected to replace GIF. PNG offers advanced graphics features such as 48-bit color.

POP (Post Office Protocol)
The set of rules and standards that govern the retrieval of e-mail messages from a mail server.

A web site that acts as a doorway to the Internet or a portion of the Internet, targeted towards one particular subject. See also Learning portal.

An agreed-upon format for transmitting data between two devices.

Pull technology
In reference to the Internet or other online services, the technology whereby people use software such as a web browser to locate and "pull down" information for themselves.

Push technology
In reference to the Internet or other online services, the technology whereby information is sent directly to a user's computer.

top of pageQ

A digital audio and video file-format and architecture developed by Apple Computer, Inc. Can be viewed on most computing platforms.

QuickTime VR (QTVR)
A part of the QuickTime architecture that allows 360-degree interactive panoramas to be developed and viewed. (VR = virtual reality)

top of pageR

RAM (Random Access Memory)
Temporary storage built into a computer system that functions as a "workspace" for data and program instructions.

One of the first CODECs for delivering streaming video over the Internet. Like other CODECs, RealMedia (comprised of RealVideo, RealAudio, and other file formats created by Real) use compression algorithms for eliminating data that can be considered as extraneous or not as important as other information. RealMedia and Windows Media are the two most widely used technologies for streaming video today.

Real-time communication
Communication in which information is received at (or nearly at) the instant it's sent. Real-time communication is a characteristic of synchronous learning.

The number of pixels in a given space, usually measured as dots per inch (DPI). Also, the number of dots per inch used by an output device.

RIO (Reusable Information Object)
A collection of content, practice, and assessment items assembled around a single learning objective. RIOs are built from templates based on whether the goal is to communicate a concept, fact, process, principle, or procedure. (Pronounced "REE-O")

RLO (Reusable Learning Object)
A collection of RIOs, overview, summary, and assessments that supports a specific learning objective. (Pronounced "R-L-O")

RSS (Real Simple Syndication)
RSS, also know as Rich Site Summary, is an XML format for distributing news headlines on the Web, also known as syndication. First started by Netscape as part of the My Netscape site.

top of pageS

The degree to which a computer application or component can be expanded in size, volume, or number of users served and continue to function properly.

A device that converts a printed page or image into an digital representation that can be viewed and manipulated on a computer.

SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model)
A set of specifications that, when applied to course content, produces small, reusable learning objects. A result of the Department of Defense's Advance Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative, SCORM-compliant courseware elements can be easily merged with other compliant elements to produce a highly modular repository of training materials.

Section 508
The section of the 1998 Rehabilitation Act that states that all electronic and information technology procured, used, or developed by the federal government after June 25, 2001, must be accessible to people with disabilities. Affected technology includes hardware such as copiers, fax machines, telephones, and other electronic devices as well as application software and web sites. See

Semantic Web, The
The Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries. It is a collaborative effort led by W3C with participation from a large number of researchers and industrial partners. It is based on the Resource Description Framework (RDF), which integrates a variety of applications using XML for syntax and URIs for naming. A concept proposed by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee.

A computer or device on a network that manages network resources. For example, a file server is a computer and storage device dedicated to storing files. Any user on the network can store files on the server. A print server is a computer that manages one or more printers, and a network server is a computer that manages network traffic. A database server is a computer system that processes database queries. See also File server.

Highly interactive applications that allow the learner to model or role-play in a scenario. Simulations enable the learner to practice skills or behaviors in a risk-free environment.

Source code
Program instructions written by a software developer and later translated(usually by a compiler) into machine language that a computer can understand.

(noun) Junk e-mail that is sent, unsolicited and in bulk, to advertise products or services or publicize a message. The term may have originated from a Monty Python skit.
(verb) To send unsolicited bulk e-mail to advertise products or services or publicize a message.

SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language)
A markup language based on XML that allows you to create and stream web-based presentations composed of multiple media types, such as images, text, video, and audio.

Streaming media (streaming audio or video)
Audio or video files played as they are being downloaded over the Internet instead of users having to wait for the entire file to download first. Requires a media player program.

Synchronous learning
A real-time, instructor-led online learning event in which all participants are logged on at the same time and communicate directly with each other. In this virtual classroom setting, the instructor maintains control of the class, with the ability to "call on" participants. In most platforms, students and teachers can use a whiteboard to see work in progress and share knowledge. Interaction may also occur via audio- or videoconferencing, internet telephony, or two-way live broadcasts.

top of pageT

Two or more people who are geographically distant having a meeting across a telecommunications link. Includes audio conferencing, video conferencing, and/or data conferencing.

The internet protocol in the TCP/IP suite that enables a user to interact with a program that is running in another computer; the name of the program used for remote login.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)
A widely supported file format for storing bit-mapped images on personal computers. TIFF graphics can be any resolution, black and white, gray-scaled, or color. Files in TIFF format usually end with a .tif extension. TIFF files are often used for archiving high quality versions of an image, such as images intended to be reproduced in print or studied digitally in minute detail.

Transcoding, transcoder
Converting a data stream from one format to another, such as MPEG 1 to H.263, or an H.320 videoconferencing session to H.323.

Trojan horse
A malicious computer program that appears legitimate but masks a destructive file or application. Unlike viruses, Trojan horses usually do not replicate themselves but can still cause a great deal of damage, such as creating an entryway into your computer for malevolent users.

top of pageU

A popular multi-user, multitasking operating system developed at Bell Labs in the early 1970s. Created by just a handful of programmers, UNIX was designed to be a small, flexible system used exclusively by programmers. UNIX was one of the first operating systems to be written in a high-level programming language, namely C. This meant that it could be installed on virtually any computer for which a C compiler existed. This natural portability combined with its low price made it a popular choice among universities.

To copy data from your computer to another computer over a computer network, the opposite of download.

URI (uniform resource identifier)
Name and address of information — text, graphics, audio, video, and so forth — on the Internet. A URI usually identifies the application used to access the resource, the machine the resource is located on, and the file name of the resource. A web page address or URL is the most commonly used type of URI.

URL (uniform resource locator)
The global address of documents and other resources on the World Wide Web.

top of pageV

Conducting a conference between two or more participants at different sites by using to transmit audio and . For example, a point-to-point (two-person) video conferencing works much like a video telephone. Using video and audio signals to link participants at different and remote locations.

In the context of computing, not concrete or physical. For instance, a completely virtual university does not have actual buildings but instead holds classes over the Internet.

Virtual classroom
The online learning space where students and instructors interact.

Virtual reality (VR)
An artificial computer-generated environment that is experienced through sensory stimuli and in which special equipment allows the user to interact with the simulation.

A destructive type of computer program that attempts to disrupt the normal operation of a computer, rewrite or delete information from storage devices, and in some cases, cause physical damage to the computer.

Virus detection program
A software program to detect, diagnose, and destroy computer viruses

VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A private network configured inside a public network. Offers the security of private networks with the economies of scale and built-in management capabilities of public networks.

VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language)
Pronounced ver-mal, VRML is a specification for displaying 3-dimensional objects on the World Wide Web. You can think of it as the 3-D equivalent of HTML. Files written in VRML have a.wrl extension (short for world). To view these files, you need a VRML browser or a VRML plug-in to a Web browser.

top of pageW

W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)
An organization developing interoperable specifications, software, and tools for the WWW. See the W3C Website at

WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)
Specification that allows internet content to be read by wireless devices.

WCS Web Communications Services)
MIT Information Services and Technology's Web Communications Services group.

World Wide Web (WWW)
A graphical hypertext-based internet tool that provides access to homepages created by individuals, businesses, and other organizations.

top of pageX

XHTML (eXtensible Hypertext Markup Language
Is a reformulation of HTML as an application of XML. It provides the bridge for web designers to enter the web of the future, while still being able to maintain compatibility with today's HTML 4 browsers.

XML (eXtensible Markup Language)
A specification developed by the W3C. XML is a pared-down version of SGML, designed especially for web documents. It allows designers to create their own customized tags, enabling the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications and between organizations.

top of pageZ

A popular data compression format. Files that have been compressed with the Zip format are called Zip files and usually end with a.ZIP extension.

Zip disk
Portable storage disk that can hold 100 or 250 MB of information, manufactured by the Iomega corporation. Used in a Zip drive, Zip disks can archive or back up large amounts of data.

Zip drive
A high-capacity floppy disk drive developed by Iomega Corporation. Zip disks are slightly larger than conventional floppy disks, and about twice as thick. They can hold 100 or 250 MB of data. Because they're relatively inexpensive and durable, they have become a popular medium for backing up hard disks and for transporting large files.

Zip file


The vocabulary list was compiled from the following sources: