Glossary of Terms


Action Research -
A research methodology designed to to investigate an element of a particular activity with the aim of determining whether changes to teaching produce effective and positive improvements, especially in student learning.
Active Learning -
Active learning is learning in which learners play an active role in the process of learning instead of passively receiving information.
Affective Domain -
The emotional aspect of experience and learning.
Aggregator -
An aggregator, or news aggregator, is client software or a web based application that uses a web feed to retrieve syndicated web content such as weblogs, podcasts, vlogs, and mainstream mass media websites; or in the case of a search aggregator - a customised set of search results. It brings stuff you decide to subscribe to, to you.
Aim -
An aim (also called an objective or goal) usually defines what the educator is trying to achieve or what the educator is intending to do overall; an aim tells students what a programme or course is about.
Ascilite -
ascilite is the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education. Visit for more information.
Aysnchronous Communication -
Communication between people that occurs at different times. Participants often are also in different locations. Contrasted with synchronous communication.


Blended mode -
Blended learning is the combination of multiple approaches to pedagogy or teaching. Examples include self-paced, collaborative or inquiry-based study. Blended learning can be accomplished through the use of 'blended' virtual and physical resources. Examples include combinations of technology-based materials and traditional print materials.
Blog -
Blog is short for weblog. A weblog is a public web-based journal or diary that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption. The content usually represents the personality and opinions of the author. Blogs often provide commentary or news and information on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news. Some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images and links to other blogs, web pages and other media related to its topic. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on photogrqaps (photoblog), videos (vlog), or audio (podcasting), and are part of a wider network of social media. Key features: a catchy name, reverse chronological posts, comments, categories, 'top of the head', type posts, usually reasonably short. Free blogging sites include and
Bloom's Taxonomy -
A heirachical framework of learning based on three learning domains - the cognitive (knowledge), affective (emotions and attitude) and psychomotor (skills).
Browser -
The program that allows a person to view pictures, text, animations, images, or films over the World Wide Web. The term browser is short for web browser. Browsers include: Apple's Safari,  Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome.


Chat Room -
A virtual environment that allows people to communicate instantaneously over the Internet; typically the communications are sent by typing messages that are relayed to all people in the chat room. Private chat room scan also be set up. Some  chat rooms also allow communication via voice or video.
A Content Management System (CMS) is a computer software system for organising and facilitating the easy development and deployment of digital content. Sometimes a web application used for managing websites and web content, sometimes through special client software for editing and constructing material. "The market for content management systems remains fragmented, with many open-source and proprietary solutions available." (WP) - e.g. Joomla, Mambo, Drupal (arguably much more than a CMS).
Cognitive Processes -
Cognitive processes are mental processes  such as knowing, perceiving, and understanding.
Collaborative Learning -
An instructional method that emphasises students working together in small groups to complete a task or reach a common goal; in some cases students may be responsible for each other's learning
Community of Practice (CoP) -
The concept of a community of practice (often abbreviated as CoP) refers to the process of social learning that occurs when people who have a common interest in some subject or problem collaborate over an extended period to share ideas, find solutions, and build innovations. The term was first used in 1991 by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger who used it in relation to situated learning as part of an attempt to 'rethink learning' at the institute for Research on Learning. Used extensively as a framework for teacher professional development in New Zealand.
Competencies -
An individual's abilities as they relate to knowledge, understanding, attitudes and skills;
Constructivism -
A theory learning that claims people learn by constructing knowledge through social interactions with others.
Continuing Professional Development -
Opportunities for individuals to increase their current level of knowledge and skills through coursework or other means in order to improve their workplace performance.
Continuous Assessment -
Ongoing evaluation of work during a course in which marks awarded count toward the final evaluation.
Convergent Assessment -
Assessment based on emphasising the ability of the students to focus upon a clearly defined task; opposed to divergent assessment.
Criterion Referenced Assessment -
Assessment that attempts to uncover the strengths and weakness of a student or trainee in terms of what he or she knows or doesn't know, understands or doesn't understand, or can do or cannot do, as measured against a benchmark or standard.
Curriculum -
Broadly understood as the subjects and materials to be taught by an educational institution; typically it is listed as a set of subjects, but also may include the learning experiences, skills, and abilities students are expected to learn.
Curriculum Mapping -
A process for organising data reflecting the primary knowledge, skills, and assesments related to a subject area and used to facilitate communication and instruction.


Distance Education Association of New Zealand (DEANZ) is the New Zealand association for professionals working in flexible, open and networked education:
Deep Learning -
Learning aimed at having students extract principles and underlying meanings in order to integrate them with previously acquired knowledge; contrast with surface learning.
Digital Versatile Disk (DVD) -
High capacity computer disk the size of a CD-ROM but has a significantly higher storage capacity; typically used for storing movies.
Disadvantaged Students -
Students who have not had the same opportunities as other students entering a course of study and may need special arrangements or additional assistance to prepare them for study; disadvantages may be due to physical or emotional problems or deficiencies caused by inequities in social conditions.
Distance Education -
Any format of education provided to students who do not need to be physically present at an institution; previously materials were sent to students but now materials are provided via computer conferencing, video, Internet, and other electronic means.
Distance Learning -
Learning completed via a distance education format.
Divergent Assessment -
Assessment based on emphasising the ability of the student to develop additional skills than those specified in a clearly defined task; opposed to convergent assessment.
Diversity -
Diversity literally means 'difference' and in the educational context diversity relates to the differences between Faculty and other staff, between students, and between teachers and students. The reasons for differences are numerous and may include personality, culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age and so on.
Dual Mode Delivery -
Education or training that can be provided either in a face-to-face format or in a distance education format.


The eLearning Collaborative Development Fund (ECDF) is a government-supported initiative providing funding for e-learning capability initiatives within the tertiary education sector. The fund is administered by the Tertiary Education Commission. For more information click here.
Eduforge -
Eduforge is an open access environment designed for the sharing of ideas, research outcomes, open content and open source software for education.
Electronic Discussion Board -
Computer discussion area where individuals can post messages and other individuals will respond at a later time.
Epistemological -
Of or pertaining to epistemology or theory of knowledge, as a field of study.
Epistemology -
An area of philosophical study that focuses on our understanding of knowledge. Epistemology asks questions about what is true and false, the foundations of knowledge and the conditions under which one can properly claim to know or to believe.
Experiential Learning -
Experiential learning is learning that is based on experience.
External Examiners -
Individuals from an outside institution who evaluate and verify that an institution has met predefined standards, often to act as a quality control mechanism.


Facilitator -
Individual who assists others in a learning process but does not act as the primary source of knowledge; the facilitator acts as a guide during individual or group learning activities.
Flexible mode -
An approach to education and training which allows for the adoption of a range of learning strategies in a variety of learning environments to cater for differences in learning styles, learning interests and needs, and variations in learning opportunities. Often similar in use to blended mode.
Flexible Learning Leaders in New Zealand (FLLinNZ) is an eCDF project from the University of Waikato. The aim of the project is to implement and establish a programme based on the very successful Australian Flexible Learning Leaders programme, which has been operating since 2000.

This national project initiated by the late Nola Campbell has facilitated individual goal setting and professional development for general and academic staff who work in a variety of tertiary education organisations throughout New Zealand.

Formative Assessment -
Assessment used to identify an individuals current strengths and weaknesses relative to desired knowledge and/or skill with the intention of improving onethe student's  knowledge or skill.


Goal -
A goal  (also called an aim or objective) usually defines what the educator is trying to achieve or what the educator is intending to do overall; an aim tells students what a programme or course is about.
Group Assessment -
Assessment based on the work of a group as a whole rather than based on each individual's work.


Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia. Visit for more information
Links created in electronic documents (typically webpages) that allow a person to access another document simply by clicking the text or image that acts as the link.
Hypertext -
Electronic documents that contain hyperlinks.


Inquiry Based Learning -
Learning methodology where students are presented with a problem to solve using knowledge and skills they have acquired or need to develop. Also known as problem based learning.
Instructional Design -
A process for systematically creating instructional materials and learning activities based on the goals of the instruction and the needs of the learners.
Ipsative Assessment -
Assessment based on comparison of an individual's current performance with the individual's past performance.


JISC is the Joint Information Systems Committee, a UK based organisation funded by the UK higher education and further education funding bodies to provide world-class leadership in the innovative use of ICT to support education and research.
Just In Time Learning -
Learning completed at the time knowledge or skills are necessary to complete a specific task.


Kolb's Learning Cycle -
Learning model, presented by David Kolb, that identifies 4 stages in the learning cycle: concrete experience, observations and reflections, formation of abstract concepts and generalisations, and testing implications of concepts in new situations.


Learning Outcome -
A learning outcome is a statement which describe what a student is expected to know, understand and be able to do by the end of the course.
Learning Style -
The various preferences and methods employed by learners in the process of learning.
Lifelong Learning -
Lifelong learning is the idea  that learning can and does occur beyond the formal structure of an educational institution and occurs throughout one's lifetim.
A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software package, sometimes on a large scale, that enables the management and delivery of learning content and resources to students. Most LMSs are web-based to allow 'anytime, anywhere' access to learning content and administration. Examples include commercial (Desire to Learn, WebCT, Blackboard), open source (Interact, Moodle), and the University's home grown LMS (Cecil).
Local Area Netwowrk (LAN) -
A local area network (LAN) is a group of computers and associated devices that share a common communications line or wireless link. Typically, connected devices share the resources of a single processor or server within a small geographic area (for example, within an office building).


Mashup -

A mashup is a website or Web 2.0 application that uses content from more than one source to create a completely new service. Content used in mashups is typically sourced from a third party via a public interface or API. Other methods of sourcing content for mashups include Web feeds (e.g. RSS or Atom) and JavaScript.

While there are many useful mashups, others are simple novelties or gimmicks, with minimal practical utility. A nice local useful exampleis - a map site.

Mentoring -
The activity of advising and guiding a person through some task.
Meta-Analysis -
Statistical procedure for integrating the results of different studies.
Meta-Cognition -
Ability to reflect on one's own thinking and learning.
Module -
A separate unit or selection of material that forms a coherent whole, but may be combined with other units.
Moodle -
Moodle is an open source eLearning platform, probably the biggest OS project of its type. See for Moodle in NZ.


Networked Learning Environment -
Learning environment based on a network of communication and information technologies.
Norm Referencing -
Assessment based on a comparison of raw scores from a given assignment; opposed to criterion referencing.


Objective -
An objective (also called an aim or goal) usually defines what the educator is trying to achieve or what the educator is intending to do overall; an aim tells students what a programme or course is about.
Online Learning -
Educational environment that exists in cyberspace using communications tools such as email, chatrooms, readings on the Internet, and/or video conferencing.
Open Ended Questions -
Questions that do not have predetermined answers and allow the responder to develop a unique, personal response.


Problem Based Learning (PBL) is used to describe the method of presenting problems to students to facilitate learning by adopting problem-solving techniques. Sometimes the problems may have several solutions, other times they may have none.

Problem Based Learning Interactive, or PBLI is a successful ECDF project developed by Massey University. It allows for the creation of computer-interactive and immersive scenario-based problems. See

Pedagogical -
Of or relating to pedagogy; "pedagogical significance."
Pedagogy -
Teaching method: the principles and methods of instruction.
Peer Assessment -
Assessment completed by other students in the same discipline.
Peer Learning -
Form of learning in which students are engaged in teaching each other material.
Performance Criteria -
Written standards used by an evaluator to judge whether an individual can perform a skill or has demonstrated knowledge.
Performance Indicators -
Behavioral or quantitative measures of the performance of a skill or knowledge.
Personal Development Plan -
Document that identifies the current status and future plans of individual with respect to personal or professional goals.
Personal Tutor -
A teacher who provides personal instruction to an individual student.
Plagiarism -
Any use of the ideas or writings of another person without providing appropriate credit to the original author.
Portfolio -
Collection of work completed by a person over time to demonstrate abilities and competencies.
Portfolio Assessment -
Assessment of a portfolio intended to judge the students development and current state of knowledge and skills.
Problem Based Learning -
Learning methodology where students are presented with a problem to solve using knowledge and skills they have acquired or need to develop. Also known as inquiry based learning.
Psychomotor Domain -
The area of observable performance of skills that requires some degree of neuromuscular coordination.
Psychomotor Domain -
The area of observable performance of skills that requires some degree of neuromuscular coordination.


Quality Assurance -
Internal and external processes for ensuring that the quality of an object or institution has achieved or is maintaining a desired level.
Quality Control -
Procedures used to ensure the desired level of quality and standards are met.
Question Bank -
A set of questions on a subject used either for study/review or for drawing questions used on an examination.


Reflection -
Activity of a person to consider a past experience or event and the impact it has had on them or on another.
Reflective Practice -
Practice of engaging in reflection to identify important elements of past events.
Reliability -
The characteristic that same or similar results can be obtained through repeated experiments or tests.
RSS is used to describe a web feed format. There are two terms used to describe the acronym: Really Simple Syndication and Rich Site Summary. In the typical scenario of using web feeds, a content provider publishes a feed link on their website which users can register with an aggregator programme. When instructed, the aggregator downloads new content from all the servers within its feed list. The kind of content delivered by a web feed are typically news summaries, content updates, links to web pages or other digital media. The 'fetched' content is only a summary of the new content, rather than the full content itself.

Aggregators help us manage the flow of this information.
Rubric -
Written instruction or explanation clarifying how individuals should act or respond; see also grading rubric.


Scaffolded Instruction -
Teaching methodology where teachers assist and guide students so that they can complete learning activities they would not be able to complete without support.
Self Assessment -
Assessment completed by the learner him/herself to evaluate his/her own performance, strengths and weaknesses.
Student Centered Learning -
Educational approach emphasises the student's responsibility for learning, interacting with teachers and other students, researching, and assessment by focusing on the student's role in these activities.
Study Skills -
Sets of skills associated with an individual's ability to learn, including note taking, time management, and study planning.
Summative Assessment -
Assessment typically completed at the end of a learning period with the aim of providing a final evaluation of individual's mastery of a knowledge or skill.
Surface Learning -
Learning that emphasises the memorization of facts or basic information (rote learning); contrast with deep learning.
Synchronous Communication -
Communication that occurs in real time between participants who may or may not be in the same location. Contrasted with asynchronous communication.


Taxonomy -
A classification or ordering into groups.
Teaching and Learning Strategy -
Methodology and assumptions an instructor uses to ensure that learning occurs.
Transferable Skills -
Skills possessed by an individuals that can be used in a variety of settings


User Groups -
Groups of individuals who meet to share information about technology and computer-related activities, often to aid each other solve problems.


Validity -
In terms of assessment, validity refers to the extent to which a test's content is representative of the actual knowledge and skills learned
Video Streaming -
Technical process of accessing and viewing a video file directly by a user from a network computer without the need to download the entire file prior to viewing.
Virtual Laboratory -
Computer-based learning experience where individuals are able to simulate experiments completed in a traditional laboratory.
Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is a software system designed to facilitate teachers in the management of educational courses for their students, especially by helping teachers and learners with course administration. The system can often track the learners' progress, which can be monitored by both teachers and learners. While often thought of as primarily tools for distance education, they are most often used to supplement the face-to-face classroom.


Web 2.0 -
Web 2.0 is a phrase coined by O'Reilly Media in 2004 to refer to a supposed second generation of Internet-based services that let people collaborate and share information online in new ways – such as social networking sites, wikis, communication tools etc. It has become a popular, though ill-defined and often criticised, buzzword amongst the technical and marketing communities. These ideas emphasise social interaction, with the primary shift being from static websites to more dynamic and personally presented content.
Weighting -
Statistical process of determining a factor for an item to reflect the importance of the item as it relates to other items, e.g. one test item may be "weighted" to count twice as much as any other problem.
Wide Area Network (WAN) -
A collection of local area networks (LANs) connected together over distance via telephone lines and/or radiowaves.
Wiki -
A wiki is a website that allows multiple users to create, modify and organise web page content in a collaborative manner.