Glossary

  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  L  M  O  P  S  T  U  V  W 

A

Academic recognition
Refers to the recognition of courses, qualifications or diplomas from one higher education institution to the other.

Access to higher education
Refers to the right of qualified candidates to apply and be considered for admission to higher education. 

Accessibility
Is a characteristic of technology that enables people with disabilities to use it. Also benefits people with older or slower software/hardware.

Accreditation
Is a formal and independent decision, indicating that an institution of higher education and/or programmes offered, meet(s) certain standards. From the VENUS perspective, there is also another level of accreditation, the accreditation of a single course.

Alumnus / alumni
Graduate of the university. Increasingly offered an association to belong to for life.

Assessment
Assessment of institutions or programmes: the process for establishing the educational quality of a higher education institution or programme. Assessment of individual qualification: the written appraisal or evaluation of an individual’s foreign qualification by a competent authority. Assessment of individual students: the actual testing of a student’s ability and skills within a programme.

Asynchronous Learning/Training
Learning where people are not online at the same time and interaction does not occur without a time delay, allowing people to participate on their schedules. Examples are e-mail, discussion groups, and self-paced courses delivered via Internet or CD-ROM.

Audio book
An audio book is a recording of the contents of a book read aloud. It is usually distributed on CDs, cassette tapes, or digital formats (e.g., MP3 and Windows Media Audio). Useful for: sharing of course material in digital and audio format.   

Audio conference
Voice-only connection of more than two sites using standard telephone lines. Useful for: discussions and dialogue.

Authentication
Process of proving identity and right of access, usually in digital systems by login and password.

 

B

Bandwidth
The capacity of a communication channel to carry information. The greater the bandwidth, the faster the data transfer. The amount of data sent or received over any given time is limited by bandwidth.

Blended learning
A method of delivering learning through multi channels, including printed materials, online, audio-visual methods and face-to-face meetings where possible.

Blog
See ‘ Weblog’.

Bologna Process
Is an intergovernmental initiative which aims to create by 2010 a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) based on three cycles: Degree/Bachelor - Master - Doctorate. 

Bridging Multipoint Control Unit (MCU)
Is a device that is used to link a videoconference of three or more end points (users at computers or groups of users in one room).   


CBT (Computer-Based Training)
Training conducted using a computer, often used when referring to education or training presented while a computer is not connected to a network.

Certification
A valued credential awarded in several fields that proves competency upon satisfactory demonstration of particular knowledge and skills.

Chat or chat room
Text-based group communication on the Internet. Multiple users can type their questions and answers for everyone to see. This form of group communication occurs in real-time. Sounds great but fairly messy for e-learning. Synchronous web-casts or threaded discussions better.

Chatting
An instant messaging application allows people to communicate with each other over a network in real time, in relative privacy. By entering other’s email address or messenger ID, you can communicate with each other in a chat window with space to write and to read a message. Users can see who is available (or online) and who’s not. Users are able to send messages to peers who appear to be offline. On the other hand, people are not forced to reply immediately to incoming messages. Nowadays IM can be accompanied with audio and video applications. 

Classroom Training
Any training conducted where the students and facilitator interact in a real, physical classroom. Unlike "Instructor-led Training (ILT)" which, although there is an instructor, could still take place over an Internet connection.

Codec
A codec is a device or programme capable of performing encoding and decoding on a digital data stream or signal. Codec is short for compressor-decompressor. 

Collaborative Learning
Learning through the exchange and sharing of information and opinions among a peer group. Computers excel in mediating collaborative learning for geographically dispersed groups.

Collaborative real-time editor
A collaborative editor is a software application that allows different participants of a network to edit simultaneously a text or a media file using different computers. The participants see each other’s contributions and changes immediately.  

Competent recognition authority
A body officially charged with making binding decisions on the recognition of foreign qualifications.

Competencies / Competency Model
A structured list of knowledge, skills and attitudes that are required for job performance. Competencies are used as the foundation to guide needs analyses and evaluations. Unfortunately most competencies end up in a filing cabinet to be referenced only when updating job descriptions. Used properly, they are powerful drivers of assessment and training.

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

Course
A part of a programme of studies that is normally self-contained and assessed separately. Complete study programmes are normally composed of several courses.

Creative Commons
Licenses are a number of copyright licenses issued on December 16, 2002 by Creative Commons, a U.S. non-profit corporation founded in 2001. Many of the licenses, notably all the original licenses, grant certain “baseline rights”, such as the right to distribute the copyrighted work without changes, at no charge. Creative Commons licenses are currently available in 34 different jurisdictions worldwide. 

Credential
A term sometimes used to refer to a qualification.

Credit
The currency providing a measure or learning outcomes achieved in a national time at a given level.


D

Digital libraries
Libraries that have collections with electronic materials such as e-journals, online databases, e-books. Typically used to mean a library with a substantial proportion of this type of material.

Diploma
Any qualification or credential.   

Discussion Board
See Internet forum.

Dissemination
Is defined as a planned process of providing information on the quality, relevance and effectiveness of the results of programmes and initiatives to key actors.It occurs as and when the results of programmes and initiatives become available.  

Distance education
Educational situation which the instructor and students are separated by time, location or both.



E

ECTS
The European Credit Transfer System . This is a system based on a ECTS credits (workload), designed to facilitate mobility, credit transfer and the international recognition of periods of study completed abroad. 

E-mail
Messages sent from one computer user to another. 

E-learning
Term covering a wide set of applications and pedagogical processes suporting in ICT learning, such as web-based learning, computer bases-learning, virtual classrooms and digital collaboration.

European Higher Education Area
A term used by the European Commission. It is to be established by 2010, with the aim of facilitating mobility of students and scholars, transparency and recognition of qualifications, quality and a European dimension in higher education, as well as increasing the attractiveness of European institutions for third country students.



F

Facilitator
An instructor who assists, directs, and stimulates the learning during an online course.

FAQ (frequently asked questions)
Highly useful, a list of common questions about a particular topic, product, or service directed primarily at new users.

Feedback
Can be positive or negative, is used to shape behaviours, and should closely follow an action for maximum result.

Firewall
Specialised hardware or software designed to secure a computer or network from unauthorised access.

Formative Evaluation
Evaluation carried out throughout the pilot and intended to shape and support work and allow for changes within its timeframe.

Free-mover
Student who visits another university as part of their studies but do so independently and not as part of an organised programme such as Erasmus.



G

Grades
Marks given for coursework or examination.  

Groupware
A class of software that helps groups of colleagues (workgroups) attached to a local-area network organize their activities. Typically, groupware supports the following operations: scheduling meetings and allocating resources; - e-mail; password protection for documents; telephone utilities; electronic newsletters; file distribution; Groupware is sometimes called workgroup productivity software.  



H

H.239
An ITU-T recommendation for videoconferencing that supports an additional video channel to show a slide presentation from a presenter’s computer or any additional image source as a second video channel. During multipoint conferences, H.239 ensures that only one endpoint in the conference can send the second video channel at a time. 



I

ICT
Information and communications technology based upon computers and networks.

ICT infrastructure
In universities this means mostly the hardware of the network, wireless network, the microcomputer labs etc. It is also the national and international network and related services that the university uses to allow Internet traffic to flow into and out of the university.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
A circuit-switched telephone network system, designed to allow digital transmission of voice and data over ordinary telephone copper wires, resulting in better voice quality than an analogue phone.

Internet
The global network of regional and local computer networks.

Internet forum
An internet forum is a web application to organize discussions through posting a question or a statement about a certain topic for others to review. Visitors can react by posting their personal comments on the topic. People can react to the original statement as well as to the reactions of others. Therefore different discussions can arise. Most forums are public, allowing everyone to sign up at any time. Anonymous forums may offer full anonymity, allowing posts without registration. Registered members of a forum, who are identified by unique usernames, may have additional privileges like the ability to edit their previous posts, to start new topics and to control their individual settings and profiles. Most forums have one or more moderators who have the possibility to edit, modify, move or delete messages who are a thread to the forum.

Internet protocol (IP)
A data-oriented protocol used for communicating data across a packet-switched internetwork. IP is a network layer protocol in the Internet protocol suite and is encapsulated in a data link layer protocol (e.g. Ethernet).

Interoperability
The ability of software systems running under different operating systems and on different hardware to exchange information using the same file formats and protocols.

IRO / International Relations Office
The university office usually tasked with responsibility for student mobility, recruitment etc.

Instant Messaging (IM)
See 'chatting'.

International Relations Office
See IRO

ISDN
See Integrated Services Digital Network

Instructional Design
Used to indicate the manner in which the teaching and learning process in the VENUS project was organised, although there are other terms which could be used, like didactics. 

 

L

Learning cafe
An internationally recognised training methodology. It is used to create a natural discussion and brainstorming environment that facilitates knowledge, experience and opinion transfer between people from diverse backgrounds. 

Learning outcomes
The specific intellectual and practical skills gained and tested by the succesful completion of a unit, course of whole programme of study.

Learning Management System (LMS)
Software that automates the administration of training. The LMS registers users, tracks courses in a catalogue, records data from learners; and provides reports to management. An LMS is typically designed to handle courses by multiple publishers and providers. It usually doesn't include its own authoring capabilities; instead, it focuses on managing courses created by a variety of other sources.

Learning platform
Internal or external sites often organized around tightly focused topics , which contain technologies that enables users to submit and retrieve information.

Level
The place of qualification in the higher education system. Normally, a national hierarchy of ualification exist.

Lifelong learning
All learning activities undertaken throughout life with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence within a personal , civic, social and/or employment related perspective.

Localisation
The aim of localisation is to allow students from different locations to participate on equal terms in the same course. The challenge is to create a learning environment which allows for differences and at the same time makes a coherent learning experience possible.

LMS
See Learning Management System.



M

Mentor
A wise and trusted counsellor or teacher – for visiting students this would be an experienced senior student at the host university.

MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (MP3)
A compressed music format that is very popular for digitizing music.

Mixed-media
The combination of different delivery media like books, audiotapes, videotapes and computer programmes in one curriculum. Not to be confused with multimedia, where different media are integrated into one product. See blended learning.

Moodle.org
Moodle is a course management system (CMS) - a free, Open Source software package designed using sound pedagogical principles, to help educators create effective online learning communities. You can download and use it on any computer you have handy (including webhosts), yet it can scale from a single-teacher site to a 50,000-student University.



O

Offline
Operation of a computer while not connected to a network.

Online
Connected to the Internet or another computer.

Online forum
An asynchronous virtual learning space, open to tutors and students studying a particular course, for wide discussion of all aspects of the course.

Open Source
Refers to a programme in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge.
 


P

Peer support
Use of classmates and friends to provide help, advice, knowledge in how to carry out tasks, find information etc.

Pilot Test
Also known as an Alpha test or formative evaluation. A version of the training programme is delivered to a sub-set of the target audience for an evaluation of its instructional effectiveness. Also known as a very simple step to help avoid disaster, which is forgotten on the majority of projects.

Podcast
Podcasting is the assembly of ‘broadcasting’ and ‘iPod’ (the MP3-player of Apple). It’s an easy way to publish audio files (mostly an MP3 or AAC extent) on the internet. Visitors can subscribe to it by which they receive automatically new recordings.

Portal
A website that brings into a single locus the services of an organisation. Typically for a university this would offer a single entry point for students to the sorts of services they would use, such as library, student record, e-learning, student association but might also allow ‘feeds’ from news organisations, TV etc.

Post
Used as a noun for messages "posted" to newsgroups, blogs, etc.

Real-time communication
Communication with little or no delay; synchronous interaction.

Quality Assurance
A mechanism to assure users that the quality of what they are about to use reaches suitably high standards. In higher education this implies quality of teaching, resources, assessments etc.


S

Seminar
A learning session for a fixed number of participants, in which each member is expected to contribute usually led by an expert in the subject of the seminar.

Social Citations
Like social bookmarking, social citations software aims towards academics and allows the user to post a citation of an article or book found on a website, an online database, or in a library catalogue. these citations can be organized into predefined or personally defined categories through tags. Herefore, academics interested in similar areas can connect to each other and share resources.

Spam
Unsolicited e-mail.

Summative evaluation
Evaluation as a backwards look at a completed pilot, a judgement of its quality and value and not intended to change the pilot process midway.

Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL)
A W3C recommended XML mark-up language for describing multimedia presentations.

Synchronous conferencing
See ‘Text Chat’.

Synchronous learning
Learning where people are online at the same time and interaction occurs without a time delay (real-time) and which requires them to attend at specific times.


T

Telepresence
Refers to a set of technologies which allow a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance that they were present, or to have an effect, at a location other than their true location. 

Text Chat
Text Chat (synchronous conferencing) is the formal term used in computer-mediated communication, collaboration and learning, to describe text chat technologies. Different online chat technologies, like Internet Relay Chat (IRC), allow users to join chat rooms and communicate publicly with many people at once, mostly via a pseudonym. It’s a form of real-time internet chat (therefore the term synchronous conferencing can be used as well). In a chat room, you can post a message that other users can read and respond to. Text chat is mainly designed for many-to-many communication, but allows also one-to-one interactions and data transfers via private messages.

Tutorial
A less formal learning session for a fixed number of participants, often aimed at clarifying the course material. Usually led by a tutor/Associate Lecturer. Can be online, face-to-face or by telephone.

 

U

Upload
A file transfer from your computer to another.


V

Video blog
A video blog is a blog which comprises video. The video files can be downloaded and therefore can be saved on external players. Just like a blog or a podcast, people can respond to a video blog, via a text or a video message.

Videoconference
Face to face communication to discuss a need, problem or a plan using a variety of technologies in which people in different locations use video and audio devices to communicate in real-time (synchronous).

Video-on-demand (VOD)
Systems enable users to select and watch video content over a digital network. These systems either “stream” content, allowing viewing in real time, or “download” it so that the programme is brought in its entirety to a set-top box before viewing starts.

Virtual community
A community on the Internet where people share common interests; an online community.

Virtual learning environment
See VLE

Virtual private network
See VPN

Virtual seminar
Used in our context to describe the idea of a seminar – the bringing together of a group of people to find out more about and discuss a specific subject – that takes place virtually – in virtual space as opposed to face-to-face.

VLE / virtual learning environment
A web browser dependant software system that enables online interaction between learner and tutor. It combines methods of online communication (such as chat room, discussion boards and e-mail) with the ability to deliver learning materials (such as documents, articles and assessments).

Vlog
See ‘Video blog’.

VPN / virtual private network
A method of connecting to digital services of a university that makes the user appear to be on the campus and so entitled to the same digital services.


W

Web 2.0
Use of the web to provide a means for users to create their own materials online, upload photographs, add comments and modify the work of others. This is in contrast to Web 1.0 which was unidirectional information flow from provider to consumer.

Web Conferencing
This is the term used for live meetings or presentations conducted over the Internet. 

Weblog
A (web)blog is a personal website where users have the opportunity to adjust, preserve or react on the content or messages posted by the author or by other users. Blogs can be created around a certain topic or can function as a personal online diary. Messages are usually classified chronologically, but can also be catalogued personally. In general, blogs are public, but they can also have a more private character. A typical blog combines text, images and links to other blogs, web pages and other media related to its topic. Most blogs are primarily textual, but some blogs focus on art (i.e. artlog), photographs (i.e. photoblog), videos (i.e. vlog), music (i.e. MP3 blog) or audio (podcasting).

Webinars
Shorthand for web-based seminar, a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the web; a key feature is its interactive elements 

Web page
An HTML file or document; part of a website.

Wiki
A wiki is the compilation of different linked web pages whose content can be edited by its visitors. A wiki enables documents to be written collaboratively, in a simple markup language, using a web browser. Different ‘wiki pages’ are interconnected by hyperlinks. A wiki is essentially a database for creating, browsing and searching through information. Registration or subscription is usually not necessary. The history of adjustments is made transparent, so mistakes can easily be restored. Most wikis are public, but wikis can also be semi-personal. In this case, the contributions of others are usually limited to small corrections or additions.