Accessibility: Creating course materials “that remove barriers to communication and interaction that many people face in the physical world”.1 Poor course design could increase these barriers.
Alt-tags: Alt tags, or alternative tags, are text that describe an image through both digital writing as well as audio, most often beneficial to the blind or visually impaired though they are also used for e-commerce. Regarding the latter, alt tags can contribute to search engine readings for the sake of categorization. Examples of alt tags are “young farmer with a link titled Farmer Dating App” and “an image of a single penguin walking on ice.”
Asynchronous / Synchronous learning: Synchronous learning implies that learning is “live” such as a videoconference or chat session. “Live” is significant in that students can get answers to questions, participate in discussion and interact with their classmates while the learning is happening. Asynchronous, by contrast, is learning which happens at the time, place and platform which is convenient for the student. For example, online reading and assignments can be supplemented with email and discussion boards. Although it is not live, asynchronous learning is helpful in giving students more control over their learning schedule.2
Digital Literacy: A complex series of related skills necessary for individuals to perform effectively in a digital environment. In addition to being technical, these skills can also include understanding photo-visual messages, forming connections or links, and interacting in social and emotionally productive manner.3
High-stakes (assessments): An assignment that will form a significant portion of a student’s grade. The purpose of the assignment is measuring the extent to which students have mastered content and exhibited the ability to use it creatively/independently.
Hypothes.is: A website that allows its users to annotate (publicly or privately) another website. Professors can invite their students to comment on a page of interest by creating a collaborative group.
Learning outcome: Describes the knowledge, attitudes, and skills that a student should be able to acquire by the completion of the module or course. Often begins with, “By the end of this module (or course), participants will be able to…”. The module or course materials, activities, and assessments are selected and designed to enable a student to achieve the learning outcomes.
Low-stakes (assessments): A short assignment that can be ungraded or given completion credit. The purpose of the assignment is to give students practicing a new skill or exploring newly introduced content. The assessment will give faculty a sense of what students understand and if they are/are not finding the content meaningful.
Metadata: Metadata is in its most simple terms, is information about data or data that “thinks” about data (hence the prefix “meta—“ which typically indicates a self awareness or self reflection). Metadata is descriptive or structural information about data that can often make large amounts of data easier to organize, navigate, or use for other purposes. For example, tags and categories used in blogs or hashtags for Twitter, are familiar forms of metadata that we use to search for related material or perhaps even discover new pathways or branches of thought.
OCR: OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, is a technology that allows a computer to recognize text in a photograph or scanned image. When OCR is performed on a document, a user can then edit the text. OCR text might require proofing or editing to achieve accuracy, depending on the quality of the scan and type of document being scanned.
Open Educational Resource (OER): OERs are educational products such as books, articles, syllabi, photos, videos, slides, or question banks that have been made available digitally for free and with permission to share, remix, or distribute freely (or with very limited conditions). Instructors can use openly licensed products created by others, or produce and distribute their own OER. Instructors can use, alter, and redistribute these materials in their courses without requiring students to purchase a textbook, and may allow for instructors to use more up-to-date content, or content from more diverse perspectives.
Open Access (educational technologies / tools / platforms): “Open” education can refer to a variety of practices and philosophies relating to the way that people share and produce knowledge. An open access journal is a journal that would allow people to access its content without a paywall. An open access tool or platform might be available at no cost, but might also not monetize or store data.
Open Source (educational technologies / tools / platforms): An open source tool or platform is one in which the source code for the software is made freely available, which means that the tool or platform is modifiable. Tools like Scalar, Omeka, Neatline, Hypothes.is, Mastodon, and Rocket.Chat are examples.
Platform: In the first literal sense of the word, a platform is a surface on which things stand. This is a useful way of thinking about the platforms we use to build our courses, be they Blackboard, Blogs at Baruch, or smaller integral systems, such as peer note-taking (to support collective input), and prompts (to support in-class and out-of-class discussion). A platform enables certain inputs and outputs while disabling others. Hence the importance of the second—less literal—definition of platform: which is the policy of a party or group. When thinking of platforms, it’s important to imagine who will be using them, to what end, and so on (one way of thinking of this is the Universal Design model). So thinking of platforms as a group phenomenon (the thing on which the hybrid course stands) also entails thinking about its adaptability for its members. Platforms are supportive, adaptive systems for collective learning.
Scaffolding: In education, scaffolding refers to a variety of instructional techniques used to move students progressively toward stronger understanding and, ultimately, greater independence in the learning process. The term itself offers the relevant descriptive metaphor: teachers provide successive levels of temporary support that help students reach higher levels of comprehension and skill acquisition that they would not be able to achieve without assistance. Like physical scaffolding, the supportive strategies are incrementally removed when they are no longer needed, and the teacher gradually shifts more responsibility over the learning process to the student.4
Screen Reader: A type of assistive technology (AT), screen readers are software that allows the visually impaired and/or blind to interface with digital content through keyboard commands that instruct the synthesizer to read aloud or spell a word, or describe an image. Screen readers are available for most major operating systems. VoiceOver, for Apple systems, is particularly popular as is Chromevox for the PC. Tags (see “Tags”) are particularly important for users to know how an image looks and are referred to as Alt Text. Screen readers can be expensive though there are open source screen readers, such as Speakup.
Server: Servers are central network locations that manage access and distribution of information across the network. Servers hardly carry out any other task apart from their core function, thus the name ‘server’. There are several types of servers depending on their function. For example, print servers, database servers, network servers, etc. In the context of hybrid teaching, servers are important tools to distribute information, but we have to confront challenges related to intellectual property rights, privacy, and security when choosing a server to host or distribute information.
Social annotation: With a social annotation tool, learners can make text-based annotations on a webpage or a document by highlighting a specific portion of the text and adding a comment. The annotations can be either private or shared with a group.
This glossary is a product of contributions from various cohorts of the CTL’s Hybrid Seminar. This glossary is being regularly updated.
This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Feel free to remix!
3) Eshet, Yoram. 2012. “Thinking in the Digital Era: A Revised Model for Digital Literacy” Issues in Informing Science and Technology.
4) This concept is linked to Lev Vygotsky’s the concept of “zone of proximal development” (ZPD).