Students newly enrolled in an online degree program may not know the terminology used in online education. Use this glossary of terms for online colleges to familiarize yourself with online terminology. You may recognize some terms from your traditional classes.
Asynchronous: A flexible learning environment where students independently determine the schedule in which they complete their studies. This course of study is also known as self-paced learning.
Bulletin Board: A virtual space where a user or member of a certain group may post announcements or messages for the benefit of other members of the group.
Certification: A credential earned when a person finishes the required coursework and demonstrates proficiency in a particular subject or a group of related subjects.
Cohort: An interactive group of students in an online classroom.
Course Management System (CMS): A software program, usually accessed through a website, that allows students to store their work, track their progress and gain access to educational resources; it also houses discussion forums and other forms of interactive communications.
Courseware: Software that contains the materials used in an online educational environment.
Distance Learning: An education that takes place electronically via Internet and allows students to attend classes regardless of geographic location.
E-learning: Education that is conducted electronically; includes Internet courses, computer networks, CD- or DVD-ROM, satellite or interactive television.
Facilitator: a) An online instructor who aids and directs sessions in a virtual classroom. b) A person who directs and oversees the discussions on a forum; also known as a moderator.
Forum: An area on a website where members can post questions or comments and discuss various topics.
Instructor-Facilitated Courses: A flexible virtual-learning setting that offers a middle ground between self-directed and instructor-led study. Students learn at their own pace but use guidelines and materials provided by the online school and receive feedback from the instructor who facilitates the class.
Instructor-Led Courses: A virtual course similar to a traditional course in that student attendance is required and an instructor plans and directs the classes, gives assignments and grades the work.
Learning Management System: An application used by virtual instructors to develop and implement lesson plans, track student progress and participation and provide a means for interaction through video conferencing and discussion groups.
Module: A unit of study that can be combined with other units to create a customized learning plan. Each module can stand on its own, or it can be used in conjunction with other modules to provide a course of study.
Satellite Classroom: A real-world classroom setting where students gather at a specified time, date and place to engage in an electronic course of study.
Synchronous Learning: Learning that has a set schedule and takes place online in a real-time environment with several students present at the same time. It is typical in a virtual classroom.
Thread: The question, answer and comment trail of a particular topic of conversation in an online discussion group or forum.
Virtual Classroom: An online classroom that an instructor leads via Internet, video or podcast. A virtual classroom is similar to a traditional classroom in structure and content, but it takes place entirely online.
Virtual Learning Environment: An online learning environment where students log on to a website to attend classes or download the materials to complete. Students and instructors can communicate live via video conferencing or periodically by bulletin board post or email notification.
Virtual Library: An online resource that contains digital media such as e-books, which instructors and students can view electronically.