Basic Terms - Online Professional Development for ABE, Literacy, ESOL, and ASE Teachers - March 29 - April 19 2004

Online Professional Development for ABE, Literacy, ESOL, and ASE Teachers

List of Some Basic Terms

[The following terms are provided for the purpose of this discussion. We recognize that some of the terms are used in multiple ways in different places. This short list is not intended to suggest parameters to our discussion; but rather to provide a beginning place or common point of reference.]

Asynchronous - Learners are not required to participate in a particular learning activity at the exact same time. For example, E-mail, discussion lists, typical web pages, and online bulletin boards are designed to be asynchronous.

Audio Conference - Formerly known as a conference call, an audio conference can include a web-based presentation, or a powerpoint that you email to participants before the conference call. This approach is not good for more than 20 people at a time, but it is popular with participants because it is low-tech, inexpensive, and can be done from anywhere with a phone. The computer and Internet access are optional.

Blended PD (Hybrid Training Experience) - Technology-mediated learning that combines "in-person" or traditional face-to-face interactions with any combination of distance education.

Distance Education - Distance education is planned learning that normally occurs in a different place from teaching and as a result requires special techniques of course design, special instructional techniques, special methods of communication by electronic and other technology, as well as special organizational and administrative arrangements. 1

E-Learning - A broad term that suggests any type of technology-mediated learning, from independent research to email conversations that contribute to personal or professional development.

IP Videoconference - Allows individuals in different locations to see, speak to and hear one another via the Internet. It is similar to a telephone conference call with the addition of a live video picture of the participants. Participating sites need simple computer video cameras, speakers, microphones, software and an ultra-high-speed Internet connection. Large screen viewing and a remote control camera are preferable where there are several participants at one site. A videoconference should be used when there are a limited number of participants at each site, when you want live conversation among all participants, and when you don't need the camera flexibility or production values. (Note: videoconferencing doesn't have to be via Internet. It can be done via ISDN (phone line), usually a little more stable and a lot more expensive.)

Learning Management Systems - Web-based software that enables presentation of content, interactions among participants, assessment of learning, and recording/reporting of data on learning.

Online Professional Development - Professional Development delivered using Internet technologies such as email and discussion lists, forums, proprietary applications, and web based resources.

Online training - Web-based courses, simulations, and/or learning interactions that are intentionally structured for training/skill development.

Streaming Video - 'Streaming' refers to the process of sending a video or sound file over the Internet in pieces. It allows the viewer to begin seeing the video before the entire file has been received. While the video is being watched, the remainder of the file is transferred. The other method, downloading, requires that the entire file be transferred before the video can be viewed. Both webcasts and videoconferences can be recorded and posted on the Internet as streaming video.

Synchronous - Learners are required to participate in a particular learning activity at the exact same time. For example, chat rooms, videoconferencing, and audioconferencing are designed to be synchronous.

Webcast - Allows many people in dozens of different locations to see, hear and participate in a meeting or event as it is happening. Presentations can include panel discussions, recorded video, computer graphics and interactive audience discussion. While the originating site must have meeting room, video production and ultra-high-speed Internet facilities, receiving sites need only the ultra-high-speed Internet connection, a computer or laptop, and a projector. Large screen viewing capability is preferable and in some instances a second computer is needed to participate in the meeting using online 'chat.' You can also allow distant sites to submit questions via email or fax. The proceedings can be recorded and can later be 'streamed' over the Internet. A webcast should be used when there will be more than eight receiving sites and when there will be a large audience.

Web Conference - Many commercial companies make possible web-based meeting or conferencing, with audio, whiteboard, video, participants able to see presenter's browser window, small group chats, polling and quizzes, etc. Equipment needed: Phone and computer with pretty fast Internet connection (modems frowned upon). These are good for meetings or classes with participants in many locations, when you want a lot of interaction, and you want to be able to show them websites or software by controlling their browser.

1As defined by Michael Moore, Director of The American Center for the Study of Distance Education, Penn State, from the text Distance Education: A Systems View, co-authored by Greg Kearsley [California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1996], 2,

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