Glossary of Terms

University of Louisville Online Learning

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Adaptive Learning

A sophisticated, data-driven, and in some cases, nonlinear approach to instruction and remediation, adjusting to a learner’s interactions and demonstrated performance level, and subsequently anticipating what types of content and resources learners need at a specific point in time to make progress. (New Media Consortium, 2015)

Asynchronous Learning

Interaction between instructors and students occurring independently of time or location. (University of Illinois at Chicago)

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An award used to recognize a particular experience or signify accomplishments, such as completion of a project or mastery of a skill. (See Micro-Credential) (Educause Learning Initiative (ELI), 2012)

Blended Course

Integrates online with traditional face‐to‐face classroom activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner where 25 ‐ 79% of instruction occurs online. (See Hybrid Course and Flipped Classroom) (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Blended Learning

A formal education program in which a student learns: (1) at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace; (2) at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home; (3) and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience. (Clayton Christensen Institute, 2015)

Blended Program

(1) A series of credit courses offered through a combination (25 – 79%) of fully online, blended and face‐to-face courses. (See Hybrid Program) (University of Illinois at Chicago)

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

The practice of people bringing their own laptops, tablets, smartphones, or other mobile devices with them to the learning or work environment. (New Media Consortium, 2015)

BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology)

See BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

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Competency-Based Education (CBE)

Awards academic credit based on mastery of clearly defined competencies. CBE stands in contrast to education in which learning is structured around seat time and the credit hour. With CBE, learners take as much or as little time as they need to understand the material. Competency-based programs can recognize prior learning and learning outside the scope of a course, regardless of where, when, or how that learning took place. CBE shifts the focus from grades to learning, emphasizing frequent, meaningful feedback that empowers students to take more responsibility for learning than in conventional models. (Educause Learning Initiative (ELI), 2014)

Competency-Based Learning (CBL)

See Competency-Based Education

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Digital Badges

See Badges

Direct Assessment

A type of competency-based education program that, in lieu of credit hours or clock hours as a measure of student learning, uses direct assessment of student learning relying solely on the attainment of defined competencies, or recognizes the direct assessment of student learning by others. The assessment must be consistent with the accreditation of the institution or program using the results of the assessment. (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, 2014)

Distance Education

A formal educational process in which the majority of the instruction (interaction between students and instructors and among students) in a course occurs when students and instructors are not in the same place. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. A distance education course may use the internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices; audio conferencing; or video cassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs if used as part of the distance learning course or program. [See Commission policy “Distance and Correspondence Education,” available at] (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, 2012)

Distance Learning

See Distance Education

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E-Learning (eLearning)

Learning using electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional classroom. In most cases, it refers to a course, program or degree delivered completely online. E-Learning courses are those specifically delivered via the internet to somewhere other than the classroom where the professor is teaching. (eLearningNC, 2015)

E-Portfolio (ePortfolio)

An electronic file folder system containing text, audio, video, graphic, data and other files used to document and share work from a project, class or degree program used for assessment purposes. (University of Illinois at Chicago)

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Face-to-Face (“F2F”)

Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the instructor meet synchronously in the same room; also referred to as “on‐ground” or “on campus” instruction. (See On-Campus Students and On Ground Students) (University of Illinois at Chicago)


Flipped Classroom

A pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures and other instructional content is delivered outside of the classroom, often online, before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions. The notion of a flipped classroom draws on such concepts as active learning, student engagement, hybrid course design, and course podcasting. (Educause Learning Initiative (ELI), 2015)

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The integration of organizational principles and reward structures of games and play to motivate learning in formal and informal contexts. (Educause Education Initiative (ELI), 2011)

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Hybrid Course

Integrates online with traditional face‐to‐face classroom activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner where 25 ‐ 79% of instruction occurs online. (See Blended Course and Flipped Classroom) (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Hybrid Program

(1) A series of modules or credit courses offered for degree or credit through a combination of fully online, blended and face‐to-face courses. (2) A non-credit instructional offering in which instruction and course material is delivered integrating face‐to‐face and online activities. Blended programs offer 25 ‐ 79% of coursework online. (See Blended Program) (University of Illinois at Chicago)

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Learning Management System (LMS)

A software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of education. LMSs range from systems for managing training and educational records to software for distributing online or blended/hybrid college courses over the Internet with features for online collaboration. (Wikipedia, 2015)

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Proof of knowledge acquisition and skill attainment achieved with a shorter time to completion and smaller investment compared to traditional degrees. The most common micro-credential is a digital badge. (See Badge)

Mobile Learning (M-Learning)

Learning utilizing various technologies — smart phones, netbooks, laptops, and a wide range of other devices access the Internet using cellular-based portable hotspots and mobile broadband cards, in addition to WiFi that is increasingly available wherever people congregate. At the same time, the devices carried are becoming ever more capable. In the developed world, mobile computing has become an indispensable part of day-to-day life in the workforce, and a key driver is the increasing ease and speed with which it is possible to access the Internet from virtually anywhere in the world via the ever-expanding cellular network. (New Media Consortium, 2010)

Massively Open Online Course (MOOC)

A model of educational delivery that is, to varying degrees, massive, with theoretically no limit to enrollment; open, allowing anyone to participate, usually at no cost; online, with learning activities typically taking place over the web; and a course, structured around a set of learning goals in a defined area of study. (Educause Learning Initiative (ELI), 2013)

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A course of study which is much shorter than a university course and focuses on the skills you need for a job, especially computer-related skills. (Maxwell, 2015)

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On-Campus Students

Term used to describe students who attend classes in the traditional classroom environment on the campus. (See Face-to-Face) (University of Illinois at Chicago)

On-Ground Students

See On-Campus Students


(1) The ability to connect to digital information. Alternately, being available on or logged on to the Internet. (2) Connected to or accessible via a computer or computer network. (3) The state in which a computer is connected to another computer or server via a network. A computer communicating with another computer. (Western Kentucky University, 2004)

Online Course

An instructional offering during which instruction and course material are delivered primarily (80% or more) through the Internet. There is little or no required face‐to‐face component (examples include orientations and proctored exams). (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Online Education

See Online Learning

Online Learning

Instruction delivered primarily via the Internet in which students and the instructor are in separate locations. Courses may be delivered synchronously or asynchronously. Often referred to as Online Education. (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Online Program

A series of modules or courses offered for degree or credit in which instruction and course material is delivered primarily through the Internet where at least 80% of the credit hours earned are online. (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Online Student

A person enrolled in an Online Program. (See Online Program) (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Open Education Resources (OER)

Resources available at little or no cost that can be used for teaching, learning, or research, including textbooks, course readings, and other learning content; such as simulations, games, and other learning applications; syllabi, quizzes, and assessment tools; and virtually any other material that can be used for educational purposes. OER typically refers to electronic resources, including those in multimedia formats, and such materials are generally released under a Creative Commons or similar license that supports open or nearly open use of the content. (Educause Learning Initiative (ELI), 2010)

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Personalized Learning

A diverse variety of educational programs, learning experiences, instructional approaches, and academic-support strategies intended to facilitate the academic success of each student by first determining the learning needs, interests, and aspirations of individual students, and then providing learning experiences that are customized—to a greater or lesser extent—for each student. Often incorrectly interchanged with “adaptive learning,” which is an approach to offer a personalized learning experience. Competency-based education is another example of a personalized learning degree. (See Adaptive Learning and Competency-Based Education) (Great Schools Partnership, 2015)

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Synchronous Learning

Real-time, instructor-led online learning in which all participants are logged on at the same time and communicate directly with each other. (Western Kentucky University, 2004)

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Technology-Enhanced Course

A course or program that utilizes any one or more various technologies, such as video, audio and the Internet to augment the traditional delivery of information to students via lecture, text and printed syllabi. Face-to-face instruction is not significantly replaced (25% or more) with online instruction. (University of Illinois at Chicago)

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Wearable Technology

Computer-based devices that can be worn by users, taking the form of an accessory such as jewelry, eyewear, or even actual items of clothing such as shoes or a jacket. (New Media Consortium, 2015) 

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