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Office of Continuing and Distance Education

Lincoln Building
120 North Lincoln Street
Kent State University
PO Box 5190
Kent, OH 44242-0001
Tel: 330-672-3100
Fax: 330-672-2079

Office of Continuing and Distance Education Directory

Distance Learning Definitions


Evaluation of a postsecondary institution by one of the registered accrediting commissions. Kent State University is accredited by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations of regional or national scope, develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions and/or programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then "accredited" by that agency

Associate Degree

An award that requires the completion of at least two academic years of college-level work or the equivalent in an academic or occupationally specific field of study, and which meets institutional standards for otherwise satisfying the requirements for this degree level.


Literally means "not at the same time." An asynchronous course is one in which the instruction is delivered at one time and the work can be done at a different time. In asynchronous classes, students and teachers use e-mail, listservs or other technologies which allow them to communicate without having to be in the same place at the same time.

Bachelor's Degree

An award that requires the completion of at least four academic years of college-level work or the equivalent in an academic or occupationally specific field of study, and which meets institutional standards for otherwise satisfying the requirements for this degree level. Also called a Baccalaureate degree.


The rate of data transmission based on the number of signal elements or symbols transmitted per second. Today most digital signals are characterized in bits per second.


Software that allows you to "surf" the Internet. Netscape, Mosaic, and Internet Explorer are examples of Web browsers. A browser provides an easy-to-use interface for accessing the information on the World Wide Web.


A list of all courses, typically including course title, course number, description, prerequisite(s), and other requirements for the course. Catalogs may also contain other information pertinent to courses (programs related to courses, information about the institutions that provide the courses, etc.) The searchable schedule of classes enables users to search for courses by a variety of descriptors: e.g., subject area of course, level of course (undergraduate/graduate-level), delivery mode (web, iLinc, VTEL), etc.


An award offered to recognize the work performed and skills or learning acquired by taking a particular class or series of classes. It may or may not apply toward a license or other degree.

Continuing Education

Courses, programs, or organized learning experiences usually taken after a degree is obtained to enhance personal or professional goals. Distance Education courses and workshops are available through the Office of Continuing and Distance Education.


A focused body of instruction offered by an education provider. A course may be made up of one or more classes.

Credit Hour

An hour (or nearly an hour) of instruction given over a specific period in a semester system. It is applied toward the total number of hours needed for completing the requirements of a traditional, credit-based degree, diploma, certificate or other formal award.


An award conferred by a college, university, or other postsecondary educational institution as official recognition for the successful completion of a program of studies.

Delivery Mode

The primary method or technology used to deliver instructional information to the student and used for communication between the instructor and the students. At KSU, distance courses are delivered three ways: web-based, using the internet and often WebCT Vista; iLinc, a synchronous system using software, microphone and sometimes delivered in a specific room at a regional campus; VTEL, a synchronous videoconferencing system using Polycom equipment.

Distance Learning

Learning that takes place when the instructor and student are separated by space and/or time. The gap between the two can be bridged through the use of technology - such as videoconferencing, and online technology.

Doctoral Degree

An award and formal recognition for advanced study beyond the Bachelor's and Master's degree. It generally takes two to four years of full time course work. It is the highest degree available in most areas of study.

Electronic Mail (Email)

The transmission of messages over a communication network. All registered KSU students receive a Kent State email address. Usual email addresses are the students first initial followed by up to 7 letters of their last name followed by ex. Official messages from the university and for distance learning courses use the KSU email system.

Graduate Courses/Degrees

Academic content offered to those who have already completed an undergraduate, or bachelor's, degree.


A worldwide network of computer networks. It is an interconnection of large and small networks around the globe. The Internet began in 1962 as a computer network for the U.S. military and over time has grown into a global communication tool of many thousands of computer networks that share a common addressing scheme. Unlike online services, which are centrally controlled, the Internet is decentralized by design. Each Internet computer, called a host, is independent. Its operators can choose which Internet services to use and which local services to make available to the global Internet community. Remarkably, this anarchy by design works exceedingly well. There are a variety of ways to access the Internet. Most online services, such as America Online, offer access to some Internet services. It is also possible to gain access through a commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP).



IP stands for Internet Protocol. Each machine on an internet system has a distinct IP address. This system is used in videoconferencing to connect via the web.


Mailing list program for communicating with other people who have subscribed to the same list. Using e-mail, you can participate in listservs pertaining to your topics of interest. When you submit a message to the server, your message is relayed to all those on the listserv. You receive messages from other participants via e-mail.

Master's Degree

A graduate award that requires the successful completion of a program of study of at least one (or the full-time equivalent of), but generally not more than two, academic years of work beyond the bachelor's degree.


Short for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, a specification for formatting non-ASCII messages so that they can be sent over the Internet. Many e-mail clients now support MIME, which enables them to send and receive graphics, audio, and video files via the Internet mail system. In addition, MIME supports messages in character sets other than ASCII. There are many predefined MIME types, such as GIF graphics files and PostScript files. It is also possible to define your own MIME types. In addition to e-mail applications, Web browsers also support various MIME types. This enables the browser to display or output files that are not in HTML format. MIME was defined in 1992 by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). A new version, called S/MIME, supports encrypted messages.



Another term for display screen. The term monitor, however, usually refers to the entire box, whereas display screen can mean just the screen. In addition, the term monitor often implies graphics capabilities.

There are many ways to classify monitors. The most basic is in terms of color capabilities, which separates monitors into three classes:

  • Monochrome monitors actually display two colors, one for the background and one for the foreground. The colors can be black and white, green and black, or amber and black.
  • A gray-scale monitor is a special type of monochrome monitor capable of displaying different shades of gray.
  • Color monitors can display anywhere from 16 to over 1 million different colors. Color monitors are sometimes called RGB monitors because they accept three separate signals -- red, green, and blue.

After this classification, the most important aspect of a monitor is its screen size. Like televisions, screen sizes are measured in diagonal inches, the distance from one corner to the opposite corner diagonally. A typical size for small VGA monitors is 14 inches. Monitors that are 16 or more inches diagonally are often called full-page monitors. In addition to their size, monitors can be either portrait (height greater than width) or landscape (width greater than height). Larger landscape monitors can display two full pages, side by side. The screen size is sometimes misleading because there is always an area around the edge of the screen that can't be used. Therefore, monitor manufacturers must now also state the viewable area -- that is, the area of screen that is actually used.

The resolution of a monitor indicates how densely packed the pixels are. In general, the more pixels (often expressed in dots per inch), the sharper the image. Most modern monitors can display 1024 by 768 pixels, the SVGA standard. Some high-end models can display 1280 by 1024, or even 1600 by 1200. Another common way of classifying monitors is in terms of the type of signal they accept: analog or digital. Nearly all modern monitors accept analog signals, which is required by the VGA, SVGA, 8514/A, and other high-resolution color standards. A few monitors are fixed frequency, which means that they accept input at only one frequency. Most monitors, however, are multiscanning, which means that they automatically adjust themselves to the frequency of the signals being sent to it. This means that they can display images at different resolutions, depending on the data being sent to them by the video adapters.


Non-credit Course

A course or activity carrying no academic credit applicable toward a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award. Non-credit courses are offered through the Office of Continuing and Distance Education.

operating systems

The most important program that runs on a computer. Every general-purpose computer must have an operating system to run other programs. Operating systems perform basic tasks, such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files and directories on the disk, and controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers.


PC-Based videoconferencing

"PC-Based" means that each student is sitting at a computer, while "Conferencing" means that the professor and the students talk to each other live ("synchronously"). It may be video and audio, or solely audio. The class is live and interactive, so the class hours are much like a normal class--but the students and instructor aren't all in one place. Kent State University uses iLinc software to conduct this type of videoconferencing course.


A successfully completed course or courses, skills, or knowledge a student must possess and demonstrate to the satisfaction of an instructor prior to enrolling and taking a class. For example, knowing how to create spreadsheets may be a prerequisite for a class on business accounting.


Pronounced ramm, acronym for random access memory, a type of computer memory that can be accessed randomly; that is, any byte of memory can be accessed without touching the preceding bytes. RAM is the most common type of memory found in computers and other devices, such as printers.

There are two basic types of RAM: dynamic RAM (DRAM) static RAM (SRAM)

The two types differ in the technology they use to hold data, dynamic RAM being the more common type. Dynamic RAM needs to be refreshed thousands of times per second. Static RAM does not need to be refreshed, which makes it faster; but it is also more expensive than dynamic RAM. Both types of RAM are volatile, meaning that they lose their contents when the power is turned off. In common usage, the term RAM is synonymous with main memory, the memory available to programs. For example, a computer with 8M RAM has approximately 8 million bytes of memory that programs can use. In contrast, ROM (read-only memory) refers to special memory used to store programs that boot the computer and perform diagnostics. Most personal computers have a small amount of ROM (a few thousand bytes). In fact, both types of memory (ROM and RAM) allow random access. To be precise, therefore, RAM should be referred to as read/write RAM and ROM as read-only RAM.



Person responsible for collecting and maintaining student academic records at a college or university.

Room-based videoconferencing

Room-based Videoconferencing (Polycom, previously VTEL) is a traditional distance learning system where you see class materials, your instructor, and fellow students on large Television monitors in the front of the classroom, and you speak to your instructor and fellow students from a microphone at your seat.

Self-Paced Course

A course with a flexible schedule; a student does the work when he/she has time available. The student is not expected to proceed through this self-paced course with a cohort or group. There often is a maximum time limit that the student may take to complete the class, but this time limit is usually far longer than it takes to complete the material. An example is a correspondence class.


An academic period lasting between 15-18 weeks during the academic year. Fall semester is August through December. Spring semester is January through May. There are three Summer sessions which are either 5 weeks or 8 weeks long.

sound card

An expansion board that enables a computer to manipulate and output sounds. Sound cards are necessary for nearly all CD-ROMs and have become commonplace on modern personal computers. Sound cards enable the computer to output sound through speakers connected to the board, to record sound input from a microphone connected to the computer, and manipulate sound stored on a disk. Nearly all sound cards support MIDI, a standard for representing music electronically. In addition, most sound cards are Sound Blaster-compatible, which means that they can process commands written for a Sound Blaster card, the de facto standard for PC sound. Sound cards use two basic methods to translate digital data into analog sounds: FM Synthesis mimics different musical instruments according to built-in formulas. Wavetable Synthesis relies on recordings of actual instruments to produce sound. Wavetable synthesis produces more accurate sound, but is also more expensive.



A document provided by the instructor of a course that explains the course material, what students are expected to do, and how students will be graded/evaluated. A syllabus may be printed or Web-based.


A type of two-way communication with virtually no time delay, allowing participants to respond in real time.


A pointing device. Essentially, a trackball is a mouse lying on its back. To move the pointer, you rotate the ball with your thumb, your fingers, or the palm of your hand. There are usually one to three buttons next to the ball, which you use just like mouse buttons. The advantage of trackballs over mice is that the trackball is stationary so it does not require much space to use it. In addition, you can place a trackball on any type of surface, including your lap. For both these reasons, trackballs are popular pointing devices for portable computers.



Amount of money charged to students for instructional services. Tuition may be charged on a per term, per course, or per-credit basis. The Bursar's Office handles all tuition and other payments.

Undergraduate Student

A student who is taking courses toward an Associate of Arts or Bachelor's Degree.


Videoconferencing is a traditional distance learning system where you see class materials, your instructor, and fellow students and you speak to your instructor and fellow students from a microphone at your seat. It is a synchronous system so classes are scheduled at a specific day and time. Kent State currently delivers to/from all 8 Kent campuses as well as several campuses outside of the Kent State University system. 


VTEL is an acronym used to describe a type of room-based videoconferencing. This technology is no longer used at Kent State University. We are now using Polycom equipment which is an IP based system.

World Wide Web (WWW or Web)

Loosely used, the WWW (or Web) refers to the whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using gopher, FTP, HTTP, Telnet, Usenet, WAIS, and some other tools. The WWW is a hypertext-based, distributed information system originally created by researchers at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, to facilitate sharing research information. The Web presents the user with documents