Department of Defense Education Activity

Glossary of Online Learning Terms

GlossaryIn this glossary, you will see definitions of terms that are commonly associated with the online environment and are frequently used throughout the DoDEA Virtual High School.

Click the link, DVHS Online Learning Glossary to download this glossary.

Adobe Connect Pro

  • Adobe Connect Pro is the web conferencing tool used by instructors of the DVHS to engage in synchronous (real-time) instruction with students. It is very similar to Defense Connect Online (DCO).

Asynchronous instruction

  • Instruction that is separated by time. Examples are email, and discussion forums.

Brick and mortar schools

  • Refers to traditional school or traditional school building, as contrasted with an online school.

Content repository

  • A venue for saving and sharing content. A digital content repository is an online venue for saving and sharing digital content.


  • Involves harassing, embarrassing, or threatening a young person via the Internet, email and mobile device. Technically, cyber-bullying takes place between two or more young people. When adults are involved, it is typically referred to as cyber-harassment or cyber-stalking.

Digital learning

  • A synonym for online learning.

Digital citizenship

  • Norms of behavior with regard to technology use, including the practice of netiquette, ethical and legal online behavior.

Digital literacy

  • Digital literacy is the ability to locate, organize, understand, evaluate, analyze and create information using technology.

Discussion board

  • A discussion board (known also by various other names such as discussion group, discussion forum, message board, and online forum) is a general term for any online "bulletin board" that provides a venue for questions and answers. NOTE: In the DVHS, all online instructors monitor discussion boards to ensure that students post appropriate content.

Distance education

  • General term for any type of educational activity in which the participants are at a distance from each other. In other words, instructors and learners are separated in space. They may or may not be separated in time (asynchronous vs. synchronous).

Face-to-Face (F2F)

  • When two or more people meet in person. F2F refers to the traditional classroom teaching practices as seen in brick and mortar schools.


  • The facilitator of the DVHS is a local teacher or employee at a school that supervises students during class period on a regular basis. They serve as a liaison between the online teachers, the students, parents, and school administrators.

Google Hangouts

  • Google Hangouts is the Instant Messaging (IM) application used in the DVHS. Google Hangouts allows teachers and students to connect in a variety of ways including: Instant Messages, phone calls, video chat, and screen share. Students are required to use their account to log-in. Click this link to view directions on how students can access this tool.

Interaction for Learning

  • The flow of communications and activities within the structure of a course. The following are the three main types of interaction for learning that takes place within an online course:
  1. Student to Instructor
  2. Student to Student
  3. Student to Content

Instructional designer

  • Someone who uses the principles of learning, pedagogy, and content frameworks to create teaching materials and experiences for online courses.

Instructional media

  • The materials that teachers use to teach and students use to learn (for example, printed text, digitized text, software, speech, images).

Learning object

  • An electronic media resource (or digital file; or collection of files) targeting a lesson objective, standard, or a lesson concept, that can be used and reused for instructional purposes.


  • LMS is the abbreviation for Learning Management System. An LMS is the platform or delivery system through which online courses are offered. An LMS generally includes software for creating and editing course content, communication tools, assessment tools, and other features for managing the course. In DoDEA, all online courses use Schoology as the LMS.

Online course

  • Any course offered over the Internet.

Online learning

  • Education in which instruction and content are delivered primarily over the Internet. The term does not include print-based correspondence education, broadcast television or radio, videocassettes, and stand-alone educational software programs that do not have a significant Internet-based instructional component. Used interchangeably with Virtual learning, Cyber learning, e-learning.

Student to Content Interaction

  • This type of interaction occurs when the student interacts with instructional content such as lessons within modules, online readings, and online videos.

Student to Instructor Interaction

  • This type of interaction occurs when the instructor directly interacts with the student either to deliver instructional content or to provide direct feedback regarding student performance. Examples include: discussion board forums, course announcements, Instant Messaging, web conferencing (Adobe Connect Pro), video teleconferencing (VTC), telephone, and email.

Student to Student Interaction

  • This type of interaction occurs when there is regular interaction among students. Activities that foster student to student interaction are collaborative and student-centered. Examples include: group discussion threads in the form of discussion boards, Instant Messaging, and group assignments and projects.

Synchronous instruction

  • Instruction in which the participants interact in the same time space. Examples are web conferencing (Adobe Connect Pro), and Instant Messaging (Google Hangouts).


  • Tag also referred to as metadata is a coding statement for learning objects within a curriculum that describes the contents (using keywords, descriptive terms) enabling searches.

Threaded discussion

  • A forum that includes a running commentary of messages used by a group to facilitate asynchronous online discussions.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

  • A framework for the design of online learning objects and environments ensuring accessibility for all users.

Web Conference

  • A system by which many computer users can communicate with each other at the same time using webcams and audio devices over the internet often referred to as a webinar. The web conferencing tool in the DVHS is Adobe Connect Pro.

Source: The Online Learning Definitions Project, The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).