Definitions


Key words and concepts that have shaped the concept of open learning, open learning communities and man's relationship to technology.


APPROPRIATION - processes by which individuals and communities consciously take both conceptual and operational control of an idea, a tool, a technology, etc. within the context of their real and perceived culture.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) - tools that exhibit human intelligence and behaviour including self-learning robots, expert systems, voice recognition, natural and automated translation.

COLLABORATIVE LEARNING - when learners work in groups on the same task simultaneously, thinking together over demands and tackling complexities. Collaboration is here seen as the act of shared creation and/or discovery. Within the context of electronic communication, collaborative learning can take place without members being physically in the same location.

CONSTRUCTIVISM - sees learning as a dynamic process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts on their current/past knowledge and in response to the instructional situation. Constructivism implies the notion that learners do not passively absorb information but construct it themselves.

CYBERSPACE - the virtual shared universe of the world's computer networks, it has come to describe the global information space. As an example, telephone conversations, 'chatroom' discussions, computer communications and ATM transactions all take place in cyberspace.

DISTANCE EDUCATION - an educational process and system in which all or a significant proportion of the teaching is carried out by someone or something removed in space and time from the learner. Distance education requires structured planning, well-designed courses special instructional techniques and methods of communication by electronic and other technology, as well as specific organizational and administrative arrangements.

DISTANCE LEARNING - a system and a process that connects learners to distributed learning resources. Distance learning can take a variety of forms, all distance learning, however, is characterized by (a) separation/distance of place and/or time between instructor and learner, amongst learners, and/or between learners and learning resources; and (b) interaction between the learner and the instructor, among learners and/or between learners and learning resources conducted through one or more media.

DISTRIBUTED ENVIRONMENTS - physical and virtual diversification of learning resources.

ELECTRONIC MAIL - network tool that allows an individual to send a message to the computer mailbox of another user. Mailboxes, have unique and specific addresses which can generally be mailed to or by anyone else on the Internet. E­mail can also be sent automatically to a large number of addresses (through a Mailing List).

EMPOWERMENT - how individuals/communities engage in learning processes in which they create, appropriate and share knowledge, tools and techniques in order to change and improve the quality of their own lives and societies. Through empowerment, individuals not only manage and adapt to change but also contribute to/generate changes in their lives and environments.

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING - learning by doing.

FIBER OPTICS - communications infrastructure that uses optical fibers for transmission. Optical fibers transmit large amounts of complex and varied information such as text, diagrams and graphics more quickly and efficiently than the traditional copper wires.

GUI (Graphical User Interface) - a graphics-based user interface that incorporates icons, pull-down menus and a mouse, as in Microsoft Windows or the interface on Macintosh computers. The GUI has become the standard way users interact with a computer.

HARDWARE - machinery and equipment (CPU, disks, tapes, modem, cables, printers, scanners, CD drives, etc.). In operation, a computer is both hardware and software.

HOMEPAGE - The home page is the first Web page you come to when you access a Web site. Many companies, individuals and universities, for example, have Web pages.

HTML - HyperText Markup Language is the underlying document format used on the World Wide Web. Webpages are built with HTML tags, or codes, embedded in the text, that allow different web browses (like Netscape, Mosaic, Ms Internet Explorer, etc.) to display formatted Web pages.

INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY - a broad term used for the many emerging and existing paths for accessing electronic information. They include computer networks, electronic mail, enhanced cable TV systems, electronic shopping and banking, etc.

INTERACTIVITY - reciprocal process of information exchange between two or more "players" in communication, or more specifically learning. "Players" can be pupils, facilitators, peers but also automated learner resources, like databases and other CAL devices.

INTERACTIVE RADIO INSTRUCTION - Instruction through radio which allows for a return of communication via telephone, fax, e-mail, etc.

INTERACTIVE TELEVISION (ITV) - television programmes which typically consist of one­way video transmission (students see instructor at a distance) and two­way audio (students hear instructor either through the television or by telephone and the instructor can hear students by telephone). With the advent of compressed video, ITV programmes are now being implemented that allow both students and teachers to see, hear and respond to each other via video and audio in real­time.

INTERNET - the world-wide network of networks. Known as 'The Net,' it is a wide collection of interconnected computer networks that allow electronic mail, files, and other information to flow between computers.

INTRANET - An in-house Web site that serves the employees of an enterprise. Even if intranet pages can be linked to the Internet, an intranet is not a site accessed by the general public. With programming languages like Java, client/server applications can be built on intranets.

JUST-IN-TIME LEARNING - a term to describe ways of making information available over Internet to people when they need it and at a level equal to their ability to understand it.

LAN - local area network, or a group of computers connected for the purpose of sharing resources. The computers on a local area network are typically joined by a single transmission cable and are located within a small area, often not more than a few square kilometres, and a single building or section of a building.

LEARNING ORGANIZATIONS - an organization that shares and constructs knowledge, resources, and experiences towards a common goal.

LISTSERV/MAILING LIST - application on the Internet that gives users the opportunity to distribute mail, send to other addresses. Automated mailing lists allow for online discussions conducted by electronic mail.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS - frameworks for interacting, understanding, interpreting, and constructing meaning based on local knowledge, oral traditions, and historical experiences of given area or group.

LOGIN - to identify oneself to a computer system or network and start to use it. Usually logging on requires a password, depending on the system. Same as log on; opposite of log-off.

MEDIA - means and ways of distribution and communication. From text, audio, graphics, animated graphics to full-motion video. Media is the plural of "medium." Multimedia is the mix or combination of media.

MEDIA LITERACY - the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and produce communication and information in a variety of forms and means.

METACOGNITION - thinking about one's thinking processes. It has to do with the active monitoring and regulation of cognitive processes.

MUD - Multiple User Domains/Dungeons/Dialogues are also known as 'chatrooms.' They are text-based environments in which many users are able to communicate and construct an environment in 'real-time.'

MULTICHANNEL LEARNING - learning processes whereby the interaction between learners and learing source takes place through a variety of communication channels (for example, print, TV, e-mail, Internet and video)

MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES - Howard Gardner identifies at least seven different human intelligences that allow us to engage in learning and help us make sense of the world: (1) language; (2) logical-mathematical analysis; (3) spatial representation; (4) musical thinking; (5) the use of the body to solve problems or to make things; (6) an understanding of other individuals; and, (7) an understanding of ourselves. Within the framework of learning with technology, each has a specific role and capacity.

NETWORK - an arrangement of objects or people that are interconnected electronically or not. See LAN. In communications, the transmission channels interconnecting all client and server stations also support hardware and software.

ON-LINE - when a computer is connected to a network and logged in. On-line is the opposite of off-line.

OPEN LEARNING - instructional systems in which many facets of the learning process are under the control of the learner. It attempts to deliver learning opportunities where, when, and how the learner needs them.

SERVER - a computer that provides a service across a network. The service may be file access, login access, file transfer, printing and so on.

SOFTWARE - instructions for the computer. A series of instructions that performs a particular task is called a programme. Two major categories of software are system operating software and application software. See hardware.

SURFING THE NET - Scanning online material, such as databases, news and forums. The term originated from"channel surfing," the rapid changing of TV channels to identify something of interest.

TELECOMMUNICATION - the electronic process that enables communication across distances, large and small, from one sender to another.

TELECONFERENCING - ("long distance" conferencing) describes meetings at a distance using electronic means such as satellite, telephone, Internet, radio etc. in which participants have direct visual or aural contact.

TELEMATICS - mixing of resources and services of computer science and telecommunications.

URL - (Uniform Resource Locator) the Internet addressing scheme that defines the route to a file or programme. For example, a home page on the World Wide Web is accessed via its URL.

VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES - a community accessible only online via computer, enabled by computer conferencing systems that allow people around the world to participate in public conversations or exchange private messages via electronic mail.

VIRTUAL REALITY - an immersive and interactive simulation of either reality-based or imaginary images and scenes. See Cyberspace.

VIRUS - software programme used to infect a computer. After the virus code is written, it is buried within an existing programme. Once that programme is executed, the virus code is activated and attaches copies of itself to programmes in the system.

WORLD WIDE WEB - a hyper-text-based system for finding and accessing resources on the Internet.


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