Online Course Basics

Getting Started

The Online Course Format

Tips & Techniques

Getting Started Checklist

Helpful Websites




Glossary of Terms

Image of the definition of Communication
Browser: The application, or program, used to view HTML documents.  Examples include Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Communicator, Mozilla, FireFox, and Opera.

Downloading: The act of retrieving a file from the Internet and transferring it to your local computer.

Flash: A plug-in, or extension, for browsers that allows users to view animations and interactive components.  In order to view Flash animations, users must download and install the free Flash Player from

FTP (File Transfer Protocol): A method of transferring files via the Internet.  Applications that use this method are called FTP clients.

GIF: An image format that only uses 256 colors.  It is primarily used to display images of low complexity.

Highlighting: The act of selecting a section of text.  This action can be accomplished by following these steps: 1) Click to one side of the area that shall be highlighted; 2) Push and hold the left mouse button down without releasing; 3) Move the pointer/cursor over the area to select it.  Typically at this point, the area that you are selecting will be highlighted by a different color, usually black, purple, or blue.

Home Page: The starting page of a Web site, sometimes called the splash page or main page.

Hyperlink: The area or text on a Web page that, once clicked, takes a person to a different Web page or location on the same Web page. Usually in blue underlined text (but also present as images).

HTML: Hypertext Markup Language is the authoring language used to create documents on the Web.

Internet: The collection of networks, computers, protocols, and systems that can all intercommunicate in some fashion. The Internet contains, but is not limited to, the World Wide Web, the Usenet, FTP sites, and most email systems, all accessible from computer systems located all around the world.

Internet Explorer: A popular browser made by Microsoft.

ISP (Internet Service Provider): A company that will, once dialed or similarly contacted by modem (ISDN, DSL, cable modem, etc.) provide a user with a connection to the Internet.

IP Address: A unique address your computer has while it is connected to the Internet.

Java: A programming language that allows developers to create applications that run in many computer systems (not only on Windows), usually within the browser.  Some complex demonstrations may be achieved by making use of a Java applet.  Your computer most likely has Java already installed.  If not, you can download it from

Javascript:  A scripting language developed by Netscape that can interact with HTML source code, enabling Web authors to spice up their sites with dynamic content.

JPG (also JPEG, JPE): This image format is used for photographs or images that are complex. This format can display millions of colors.

Minimize: the act of temporarily hiding a window. This does not mean closing the window; the action simply temporarily moves the window to the task bar. To accomplish this action, follow these steps: 1) Find the three buttons in the topmost right corner of the open window; 2) Place the cursor over the image leftmost of the three, a box with a thick line at the bottom; 3) Click.

Maximize: the act of bringing a window back up onto the computer screen. This does not mean reopening the window; the action simply moves the window from the task bar back to the screen. To accomplish this action follow these steps: 1) Find the task bar. Usually this is at the bottom of the screen; however, sometimes it is on one of the other screen edges. One last point: it is possible that the task bar is in hidden mode; if so, to find it, simply place the cursor at the absolute screen edge and it should appear; 2) Look on the task bar for the document you wish to bring back.; 3) Place your cursor over that document; 4) Click.

Office, Microsoft: A suite of productivity applications that allow you to create documents (Word), do complex calculations (Excel), create and use databases (Access), create presentations (PowerPoint), and author HTML files (FrontPage).  Other office suites exist, such as Corel Office or StarOffice, but Microsoft Office is the only one currently supported by Computer Services on our campus.  If you do not have Microsoft Office on your computer, you might download viewers from the Microsoft Web site at

Portable Document Format (PDF): A file format that lets users of different computer systems view a document exactly like it was created.  Other formats, such as HTML, are rendered differently by different browsers and computers, depending on factors such as screen resolution, color depth, font size, etc.  PDF files are rendered on the screen exactly the way they were authored, independently of those factors.  In order to view PDF files, users must download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Viewer from

Server Application: A program that runs on the server, processing information and returning HTML pages on the fly.  Examples of server applications include UTest (online testing) and GradeA (gradebook).

Secure Browser: A special browser that students must use to take some tests. The Secure Browser can be downloaded at

Web Page: A single document that is seen at one time in a Web browser.

Windows Media Player:  One of the most common formats for streaming audio and video over the Internet.  To view or listen to these file streams, you will need to have Windows Media Player  on your computer.  You can download it free at


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