Glossary of Terms

Note: Terms were taken from CDC's Public Health Training Network website with the permission of the CDC.

Computer-assisted Instruction (CAI)
Computer-based Training (CBT)
Computer Conferencing
Desktop Videoconferencing
Distance Education
Distance Learning
Instructional Multimedia
Interactive Video
Internet Courses
Web-based Training (WBT)

Additional Technical Terms

Credit types
Academic Credit


Contact Hours

Audioconference top
An electronic meeting in which participants in different locations use telephones or audioconferencing equipment to interactively communicate with each other in real time. The number of participants may be as small as 3 or as large as 100 or more.

Computer-assisted Instruction (CAI) top
See Computer-based Training (CBT).

Computer-based Training (CBT) top
An interactive instructional approach in which the computer, taking the place of an instructor, provides a series of stimuli to the student ranging from questions to be answered to choices or decisions to be made. The CBT then provides feedback based on the student's response.

Computer Conferencing top
An ongoing computer conversation via text with others in different locations. Conferencing can be done in "real time," so that messages appear as they are being keyed, or it can be "asynchronous," which means the complete message is keyed and then stored for later use by the receiver or sender.

Desktop Videoconferencing top
Videoconferencing on a personal computer equipped with a fast Internet connection (at least 28.8 Kbps modem), a microphone, and a video camera. There can be two-way or multi-way video and audio depending upon the hardware and software of participants. Most appropriate for small groups or individuals. Not yet presently available in many parts of the country due to bandwidth and equipment limitations for this application.

Distance Education top
See Distance Learning. The term distance education is often used synonymously with distance learning. However, distance education typically refers to distributed learning resources in academic settings.

Distance Learning top
A system and a process that connects learners with distributed learning resources. While distance learning takes a wide variety of forms, all distance learning is characterized by the following: 1) separation of place and/or time between instructor and learner, among learners, and/or between learners and learning resources, and 2) interaction between the learner and the instructor, among learners, and/or between learners and learning resources conducted through one or more media; use of electronic media is not necessarily required.

Instructional Multimedia top
A form of computer-based training that incorporates a mix of media as the stimulus to the student. Possible media elements include sound, animation, graphics, video, text; whatever it takes to get the instructional message across to the target audience. (See Multimedia)
Interactive Video top
Combination of a videodisc (usually laserdisc) or videotape and computer system that permits user response and participation, allowing for direct exchanges between user and software or among people. This instructional medium has limited use today.

Internet Courses top
Students participate in the class by using the Internet for all or part of the coursework. The instructor posts a Web page which contains all relevant course information and assignments. Communication between students and instructors occurs by e-mail.

Multimedia top
Systems that support the interactive use of text, audio, still images, video, and graphics. Each of these elements must be converted in some way from analog form to digital form before they can be used in a computer application. Thus, the distinction of multimedia is the convergence of previously diverse systems.

Satellite top
An earth-orbiting device used for receiving and transmitting signals. Each Satellite has a number of transponders which receive and bounce the signal and bounce it back to earth, where it is received by any of the dish-shaped earth stations, then transmitted via cable, phone lines, or microwave to its final receiver TV set.

Telecommunication top
The process of transmitting or receiving information over a distance by any electrical or electromagnetic medium. Information may take the form of voice, video, or data.

Teleconference top
Simultaneous conference to multiple sites distributed via audio (phone or other audio). Satellite videoconferences and videoconferences using compressed video are sometimes referred to as "teleconferences." To distinguish more accurately between these frequently used terms, using the term which uniquely describes the communication is preferred.

A meeting, instructional session, or conversation between people at different locations relying on video technology as the primary communication link. Communication is 2-way audio with either 1-way or 2-way video. The term, videoconference, is sometimes used to refer to conferences via compressed video, conferences via land lines, and broadcasts via satellite. To avoid confusion, using the term or phrase which uniquely describes the communication technology is recommended.

Web-based Training (WBT) top
A form of computer-based training in which the training material resides on web pages accessible through the World Wide Web. Typical media elements used are text and graphics. Other media such as animation, audio, and video can be used, but require more bandwidth and in some cases additional software. The terms "on-line courses" and "web-based instruction" are sometimes used interchangeably with WBT.

Web-casting top
Communicating to multiple computers at the same time over Internet by "streaming" live audio and/or live video. Through compression and decompression of the signal, audio and video are experienced in real time over Internet. Examples of commercial products emerging in this area include RealAudio, VDOLive, and VXtreme.

Credit Types

Academic Credit top
Courses denoted as offering academic credit may be part of a degree program but are available to those not enrolled in the program.

CEC top
Continuing Education Credit (Dental).

Certification top
Courses denoted as certification may be part of a larger certification program. Some courses are available to those not enrolled in the program.

CEU top
Continuing Education Units.

CHES top
Certified Health Education Specialists.

Continuing Legal Education.

Continuing Medical Education.

CNE top
Continuing Nursing Education.

Contact Hours top
Contact Hours (as a credit type).

CPE top
Continuing Professional Education in Occupational and Environmental Health.

Medical Technologist certified by American Society of Clinical Pathologist.

Terms were taken from the CDC's Public Health Training Network with the permission of the CDC. If the link below does not work, click here for a mirror page on our site.

CDC Public Health Training Network. (April 4, 1999). Glossary of Selected Distance Learning Terms and Phrases. http://www.cdc.gov/phtn/lingo.htm (March 16, 2000)


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