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What is E-Learning?

E-Learning is the process of delivering formal and informal learning and training activities and events through the use of all electronic media such as Internet, intranet, extranet, CD-ROM, video tape, TV, cell phones, personal organizers, computer technology, etc.

The following glossary contains definitions that are concerned primarily with the process of learning.

E-Learning Glossary

Assessment: The data gathering process used to systematically evaluate a learner’s skill or knowledge level.

Assessment Item: A question or measurable activity used to determine whether the learner has mastered a learning objective.

Asynchronous: Literally means "not at the same time."

Asynchronous Communication: Two-way communication in which there is a time delay between a message being sent and received.

Asynchronous Learning: This type of learning occurs when students learn at their own pace. A teacher-led format can be utilized. Students complete lessons on their own time, ask the teacher questions as they arise, and participate in student and teacher discussions through alternative means. In online learning, these alternative means include, but are not limited to, threaded discussions, blogs and other methods such as mind mapping. (See Synchronous Learning)

Blended Learning: Learning events that combine aspects of online and face-to-face instruction.

Chat: Real-time text-based communication in a virtual environment. Chat can be used in e-learning for student questions, instructor feedback, or even group discussion.

Chat Groups: Online “conversations” over a network in which participants type comments and ideas to the rest of the group in real time and view the postings of all others as they occur.

Chat Room: A virtual meeting space on the Internet, an intranet, or other network, used for real-time text discussions. Unlike one-to-one instant messenger applications, chat rooms enable conversations among multiple people at once.

Diagnostic: A diagnostic use of assessment focuses on identifying strengths and weaknesses in a client's performance, for the purpose of using the information to shape further curriculum intervention by the teacher.

Discussion Board: A discussion board is a general term for any online “bulletin board” where you can leave and expect to see responses to messages you have left. On the Internet, there are countless discussion boards.

Distance Learning: Self-paced; Distance learning conventionally has taken the form of workbooks or workbooks and videotape training. Today, with emerging new technologies, learning is delivered by multimedia/CD-ROM or the Internet. Students complete readings and assignments, and send in for a teacher for marking (sometimes), often followed by a final proctored (supervised) exam or test. This can be applied to both traditional paper and textbook based learning, and to e-learning that is not necessary instructor lead and offers no class discussion components. Distance learning is generally better suited to self-motivated advanced learners.

Formal Learning: Organized instruction based learning. Courses, reference, instructor-led training et cetera. Learning that is largely directed by professional educators and trainers within dedicated learning organisations.

Informal Learning: Education that has a less formal structure and sequence – and is usually outside of organizations that have education or training as their core business.

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 by membership only and may or may not be moderated.

Online Courses: Computer-based instruction in which courses use the world wide web as the primary delivery method of information. A text book may or may not be required and all other materials, as well as communication with the instructor, are provided through the course web-site. Web-based instruction is often used interchangeably with online courses.

Online Learning: Refers to e-learning that takes place “online” or on the internet. It is learning that is delivered by Web-based or Internet-based technologies.

Proctor: A designated person who supervises the taking of an examination. Students who have been approved by a Distance Learning course's instructor to participate in the Distance Testing program are required to find a proctor at an official testing center or other approved institution to facilitate testing requirements.

Rote Learning: A method of teaching by imitation. Memorization by repetition without logical aid. A basic level of learning where the student has the ability to repeat back something learned, with no understanding or ability to apply what was learned.

Self-Paced Learning: An offering in which the learner determines the pace and timing of content delivery. The student is not expected to proceed through this self-paced course with a cohort or group. There often is a maximum time limit that the student may take to complete the class, but this time limit is usually far longer than it takes to complete the material. An example is a correspondence class.

Synchronous: A type of two-way communication with virtually no time delay, allowing participants in different locations to respond in real time i.e. a virtual classroom. (See Asynchronous)

Synchronous Learning: Refers to both traditional and online learning when the students all learn the same material, at the same time. This type of learning is generally teacher-lead utilizing methods such as lectures and class discussions. This is more easily defined when it takes place in a traditional brick-and-mortar institution. In an online learning environment, synchronous learning takes place through online lessons guided by the instructor using webinars and white boarding, video conferencing and chat where the students login in real-time with the teacher.

Threaded Discussions: Online “asynchronous conversations” over a network in which participants type comments and ideas to the rest of the group, and view the postings of others at their own convenience. A threaded discussion is much like an office bulletin board. Internet News is the largest threaded discussion network.

Web-Based Instruction: A form of computer-based instruction which uses the World Wide Web as the primary delivery method of information. A textbook is usually required and all other materials, as well as communication with the instructor, are provided through the course website. The terms “online courses” and “web-based instruction” are sometimes used interchangeably.

Web-Based Training: A form of computer-based training in which the training material resides on web pages accessible through the World Wide Web. Typical media elements used are text and graphics. Other media such as animation, audio, and video can be used, but require more bandwidth and in some cases additional software.

Web Cam: A digital camera designed to take digital photographs and transmit them over the internet.

Webinar: A conjunction of website seminar. A small synchronous online learning event in which a presenter and audience members communicate via text chat or audio about concepts often illustrated via online slides and/or an electronic whiteboard. Webinars are often archived as well for asynchronous, on-demand access.