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Distance Learning Resources


We are providing a glossary of Distance Education Terms.

If you want a glossary of terms about the technologies used in distance education first connect to the International Teleconferencing Association site: Glossaries of Technological Terms (URL:

Besides providing its own glossary, ITA provides hotlinks to other technology related glossaries.

Another good technology glossary is: Glossaries of Learning Technologies Terms ( URL: This site provides links to resources in both English and French.

Glossary of Distance Education Terms

Distance education:
Teaching and learning in which learning normally occurs in a different place from teaching.
Distance learning:
Term often used as synonymous with distance education, not strictly correctly since distance education includes teaching as well as learning.
Distance education courses:
Structured programs of instruction for learners in a different place from the teacher, having learning objectives, one or more teachers, a medium of communication, and subject matter.
Distance education system:
All the component processes that result in distance education, including learning, teaching, communication, design, and management
Distance education Institution:
College, university or school system organized exclusively for distance education.
Distance education Unit:
A special unit dedicated to distance learning within a conventional college, university or school system
Distance education Consortium:
Two or more distance education institutions or units who share in designing distance education courses, teaching them, or both.
Distance education Program:
Distance education provided by same staff of a conventional college, university, school system, or training department whose primary responsibilities are classroom instruction.
Course design:
Setting learning objectives, chosing media applications, planning evaluation and preparing instructional strategies in advance of student recruitment.
Course team:
Group of specialists in content, instructional design, learning and technologies convened to produce distance education course.
Mechanisms for distributing messages, including postal systems, radio and television broadcasting companies, telephone, satellite and computer networks.
Messages that are distributed through the technologies, principally text in books, study guides and computer networks; sound in audio-tapes and broadcast: pictures in video-tapes and broadcast; text, sound and/or pictures in a teleconference.
Exchange of information, ideas, opinions between and among learners and teachers, usually occurring through technology with the aim of facilitating learning.
Instructors (also tutors):
Specialists in learning who interact through technology with students as they learn content, usually designed by course team, though quite often by the instructors themselves.
Specialists in learning who help individual students with academic or personal problems that interfere with learning.
Work produced by students and used by instructors for purposes of interaction and also evaluation.
Economies of scale:
Effect on unit cost of producing large quantities. In distance education the larger the number of users of a course or the larger the number of users of the system, the lower the cost for each person.

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